One of the most disliked behaviors in a dog is when they dig. Whether you have always struggled with your dog digging or they just randomly started; when you realize that digging is simply a part of many dog’s natural behaviors, you can understand why this behavior may require extra attention to stop. Just because it is an instinctual behavior does not mean that we want it occurring in our yards. There are a few successful ways to put an end to the behavior for good. Here are a few reasons why they dig:
- They are seeking prey
Dogs enjoy chasing after potential prey. Critters like small mammals and bugs can make their way onto our property, stirring up a dog’s prey drive. A passing animal can cause a dog to dig in hopes of finding them, but just their scent can cause a dog to start to dig as well. Animal droppings like cat poop and leftover scents can trigger a dog’s urge to hunt, leading to excessive digging in certain areas. You may notice the excessive digging around trees, near rocks, and other places critters may hide or leave scents.
- They are relieving Stress
Digging can be a pleasurable activity for many dogs and offers them an outlet for their current stress or struggle they are feeling. It is truly therapeutic for some dogs, but can quickly become a neurotic behavior. A dog may turn to digging if they are left alone for long periods, not getting enough exercise, dealing with the new addition of another dog in the home, and more. If your dog’s digging began after a stressful event, this could be the cause of their sudden digging.
- They are Bored
Many dogs can turn to destructive behavior if they are experiencing boredom. A dog with pent-up energy may look for a fun distraction to keep them busy, and this distraction can be sudden digging in many cases. Dogs rely on mental and physical stimulation each day to keep them content and can experience stress when those needs are not met. When their energy levels are too high, and they become frustrated, your yard may be the brunt of their digging frenzy.
- They are hiding Treasure
Does your dog like to hide toys from you or other animals in the home? Does your dog take treats in the other room to eat in peace? How about pushing their toy under a couch or table & ask you to get it as a game? Dogs like this often enjoy hiding their “treasure” in a safe place, ensuring that they are the only ones who can enjoy it or that they can enjoy it with you later. Some dogs will do this by digging holes in their favorite spot in the yard, then burying their favorite dog toys in the process. These dogs tend to view hiding their favorite toy as a type of brain-stimulation game.
How to stop your dog from digging:
- Offer more exercise
If the digging starts when they are bored, adding extra exercise to their routine may be enough to end the behavior. By tiring them out a bit more each day, they may no longer feel the need to turn to a destructive behavior. Typically, a well-exercised dog is often a well-behaved dog is something to remember.
- Pest Control
It is extremely hard for a dog to ignore critters that make their way into your yard. Because of this, you will often need to eliminate the pest from your yard to see a decrease in your dog’s digging habits. Look for safe ways to eliminate the pests from your yard.
- Mental Stimulation
One of the most common misconceptions with Doodles is exercise means physical movement. This can work, but mentally exercising them is far more effective! Puzzle boxes for feeding time or treats, making them do tasks for praise or meals, as well as pushing them into new environments are all basic examples of mental stimulation. This is one of the best ways to prevent your dog from digging.
(Bonus Point) Supervision
We are all busy & have busy schedules that aren’t conducive to watching a dog all the time. However, if you know your dog is struggling with a certain behavior then don’t openly put them in that situation to fail. Don’t allow them alone in the backyard unsupervised until you see progress. Don’t allow them to disobey. Let them earn success & learn how to act in the backyard with your guidance. That may mean quick potty trips & right back in. That may even having potty breaks on a leash for a short period of time while they are learning. In short…set them up for success!
Dogs can turn to digging for several reasons. Each dog will have different reasons behind their actions for digging. Figuring out what those reasons are and then using different training methods to stop or prevent the behavior from happening will help you put a plan in place for you and your dog. Every dog & every behavior can be trained. It’s just a matter of finding out the “why” & then being consistent with the remedy.