Like chewing or howling, digging is a natural behavior for dogs. However, the fact that it’s natural doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable for the owner. Even when you know your dog digs to some very solid reasons, you still want it to stop. Plus, a backyard riddled with holes and burrows doesn’t add to the aesthetic value of your home.
Some dogs start digging from their early childhood, but others don’t feel the urge to dig until they grow up and something changes in their life. The desire to stop dog from digging is perfectly understandable, but in order to know how to stop a dog from digging, first you need to know what leads to this behavior in dogs. Find out why dogs start digging and how to control this behavior!
Why do dogs dig holes in the ground?
It might seem like there is absolutely no reason for your holes digging holes in the ground, but there are actually a few things that can lead to this type of behavior. So why do dogs dig holes in the ground? Here are a few common reasons:
It’s no secret that dogs are very social animals, some breeds being more social than the others. Your dog thrives on communicating with you and other family members. If you frequently leave the house for a long period of time — for example, to go to work — don’t be surprised that the only way your dog can curb the feeling of loneliness is through digging. If this is the reason why your dog is digging all those holes, the only solution here is to make her feel less lonely.
In case you live in a home, there is a good chance that some animals populate your household territory. Usually, it’s someone like rabbits or moles, but your dog doesn’t distinguish, as smelling and sensing those animals underground triggers her hunting instincts. And while training hunting skills can be good for some breeds, burrows made by animals can jeopardize the foundation of your house, so it’s best to take action by contacting animal control.
Like humans, dogs are subjected to the feeling of boredom. Unlike humans, dogs cannot grab a smartphone and scroll through social media or watch their favorite TV show. If your dog is prone to digging when there isn’t much else to do, don’t be surprised when your whole backyard is covered in holes. When you spend a lot of time together with your dog, make sure to always have something for her to do, whether it’s playing a game of fetch or giving her an interactive dog toy she can enjoy on her own.
We all know that some dogs are more energetic than others. While a Basset Hound will be perfectly happy with chilling around the house with occasional interaction with the owner, other breeds, like Wire Fox Terriers and Labrador Retrievers, have way more energy. Without the ability to direct their energy to useful tasks, they will soon resort to digging. It’s very important to give your dog plenty of mental and physical exercise to prevent excessive digging.
If you’ve ever owned a daschund or any kind of terrier, you know that these dogs can’t live a day without doing at least some digging. For those dogs, digging and burrowing is part of their genetic heritage. And while these dogs likely won’t stop digging for good, there are still ways to minimize their destructive behavior.
Both extremely high and extremely low temperatures are not suited for keeping dogs outside for a long time. Whenever your dog is obsessively digging around in your backyard, look at your thermometer. If the temperature outside is freezing, your dog is digging a hole for warmth. If it’s too hot in the street, the dog is trying to cool down through digging. In both cases, you should immediately take your dog inside and wait for the outside temperature to become normal again.
In rare cases, your dog can sense the lack of certain nutrients in her body. As a result, she starts digging in an attempt to find the required vitamins and minerals. If you’re noticing an increased need for digging from your pet, analyze her diet. If anything is missing, supply the necessary nutrients through food or medicine.
Even if you are taking fantastic care of your dog and surrounding her with all the love you’ve got, she will still eventually try to escape. She may try to escape for no apparent reason at all or because she spots someone she wants to play with outside of your home. If that happens, you might want to think about fortifying your fence and distracting the dog with some games.
Hiding toys and treats
If you’ve noticed your dog digging holes to hide her toys and treats, you should know that it’s a part of standard dog behavior and there isn’t much you can do to stop it. However, there are some ways to channel this behavior into something more acceptable for you — you find them below.
How to stop a dog from digging
If you have correctly identified the reason for digging and put some effort into resolving the issue but your dog continues creating holes and burrows, here are a few effective ways to keep dogs from digging:
Create a digging zone
Allowing your dog to exercise her digging needs is always easier than trying to stop that behavior completely. If you can, arrange a digging area in your yard. Think of it as a playground for your dog. It may take some time to train your pup to dig only in the designated area, but in the end, you will be rewarded by your dog’s improved behavior and minimized damage to your backyard.
Exercise your pup
There are very few dog breeds who need little to no exercise at all. Most dogs need to be exercised every day. It’s obvious that our busy lifestyle doesn’t allow us to have extensive training sessions with our pup, but there are some things that take very little time and effort from you. Anything from a 15-minute jogging session in the dog park to an hour-walk around the city streets will give your dog a channel for spending that excess energy. Even a short but intense game of tug-of-war will make your pup less likely to do some destructive digging afterwards.
Rearrange your backyard
If you live in a hot climate with plenty of sunny days, there is a good chance your dog is digging in an attempt to cool off. If you can’t go outside without immediately sweating, imagine how hot your dog must feel! A good idea here is to add some shade to your backyard by attaching an extension to the roof. A breezy, roomy dog house can also work. There your dog will get the opportunity to cool off without all the obsessive digging.
Surround your dog with attention
The lack of attention from the owner, whether it’s due to your work or commitments at home, can result in all kinds of destructive behavior, including digging. If you feel like you are not giving your dog enough attention, the answer is simple: spend as much quality time with your pet as possible. It doesn’t have to be hours of non-stop play, but your dog needs to feel loved in order to stop the unwanted behavior.
Whenever you can, take your pup with you when you are running errands or picking up your kids from school. The dog will not only experience your increased attention, but also notice the change in the scenery, which will stop her from getting bored too quickly.
Get some toys
Dog toys are a great way to keep them both busy and entertained. An entertained pup with plenty to do is far less likely to destroy your backyard with constant digging. You can start with simple toys like chewing bones and squeaky plush toys, but you can achieve much better results with complex, brain-teasing toys. Various interactive toys where the dog needs to hunt for treats will keep her entertained for as long as needed for you to finish your errands. Make sure to rotate the toys once in a while to keep your pup from getting bored.
Excessive digging is something most dog owners experience sooner or later, but it doesn’t mean that your backyard is doomed to be constantly destroyed by your dog’s restless paws. Now that you know not only that digging is a perfectly normal dog behavior, but also how to stop a puppy from digging, you will be able to give your dog more opportunities for entertaining herself and limiting unwanted digging.