Digging is a natural behaviour for many dogs – especially terriers, hounds, and hunting dogs. This can cause problems though if your pooch is causing your lawn to look like an excavation site. So, what is the solution to this problem?
The first step is to identify why your dog is digging up the garden.
Why Do Dogs Dig?
There are many reasons why a dog may feel compelled to dig.
- Stress / Loneliness
- Trying to Escape
- To Burn Off Excess Energy
- To Hunt for Underground Prey
- They’re Copying You Gardening
- They’re Digging A Shelter
- For Fun
Dogs Dig Because They Are Stressed
Dogs can suffer from separation anxiety or lack of mental stimulus and dig holes as a way of relieving the boredom and anxiety they’re feeling.
Digging an also be an attention-seeking activity because your dog feels lonely and wants your company. Dogs are pack animals and love companionship.
Solution: Spend as much time with your dog as you can. Provide your pooch with dog toys to keep him mentally stimulated and occupied especially when you can’t be around. Dogs love to play and will get bored without something to do.
Dogs Dig When They Are Trying to Escape
Again, try to discover why your dog wants to escape. Do your neighbours have a dog or cat that your four-legged friend wants to befriend or chase?
Is he keen to explore the world outside? Does your pup feel scared or unhappy in your garden for some reason?
Solution: Walk your dog at least twice a day. Take your dog with you when you run errands to the shops or post office, so he gets to see more of the world outside of the garden.
If your dog is digging under a fence, try placing chicken wire, large rocks or a wooden barrier as an obstacle.
Dogs Dig When They Have Excess Energy
Dogs, like humans, are individuals and certain dogs (and certain breeds) are more energetic than others. If you have a high-energy dog, you may find that without enough physical activity they can resort to digging up your lovely garden out of frustration and pent up energy.
Solution: Give your high-energy dog lots of exercise. Playing tug-of-war with a rope toy or throwing a ball or frisbee for him to fetch are great ways to tire him out so he doesn’t feel the need to chew up your lawn.
Be sure to allow your dog a cooling-down period to calm down after his exercise session.
Dogs Dig When They Can Smell Prey
Your dog may be digging for insects or rodents, or certain creatures such as squirrels, rabbits or hedgehogs may be leaving a scent which is bothering your dog.
If your attempts at dissuading your dog from digging aren’t working, then consider humane methods of removing wild animals from your garden.
Your Dog is Digging Because You Are Digging!
If your dog sees you gardening then he may think it’s OK for her to do a bit of digging too – after all, why should you have all the fun?
Solution: Set aside a patch of garden where digging is permitted. Perhaps fence it off and encourage digging only in that spot.
Try burying treats or toys for your dog to find in that area only. If your dog attempts to dig anywhere else, admonish her with a firm: “No digging!” and lead her to the designated digging patch.
Reward her for digging in her own special digging spot. You could also use a small sandbox as an allocated digging area just for your pooch.
They Are Digging A Shelter
Dogs will seek a cool place to lie in warm weather and some dogs will find it natural to dig a hole to lay in.
When the ground gets hot in the sun, the soil a few inches below the surface is cooler and your dog may enjoy lying in the soil to cool off.
In colder weathers, some dogs, especially breeds such as the Siberian husky, will dig a hole as a shelter from the elements.
Solution: Ensure there is a shady spot for your furry companion or provide him with a cool, comfortable bed out of the sun.
Always make sure he has plenty of water to drink. In cold weather ensure your dog has access to a warm, comfortable shelter from the wind and rain.
Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun!
Digging is an instinctive and natural behaviour for dogs. Many breeds have been specially bred to burrow. Others have been bred to work and have a high level of energy which needs to go somewhere.
Many dogs simply enjoy digging for digging's sake. Trying to prevent a dog from digging can cause anxiety and unhappiness in your four-legged friend. Punishments may only make the problem worse.
Usually, unwanted digging can be prevented by keeping your dog happy, occupied mentally and well-exercised. Assigning a special patch or a sandbox for your dog to dig in can avoid holes being dug up all over your garden while still permitting your pooch to indulge in his natural behaviour.
Using deterrents such as orange peel or other things that your dog may dislike can also deter your dog from digging. Be sure that you are not using anything that is toxic to dogs (such as onions or garlic, which are poisonous to dogs when ingested).
Seeking advice from a dog behaviourist can help if you’re still not sure why your dog is digging.