Dogs are loveable and loyal animals, but they do exhibit certain traits that frustrate their owners such as destroying furniture, chewing valuables and digging holes. If your dog digs, before trying to stop it, you must determine the causes behind this particular behavior.
Why Do Dogs Dig?
Dogs dig for various reasons, and it is important to understand them. Spend time with your pets and pay attention to figure out the causes. Once you identify the reason, it will be somewhat easier to stop your loyal friend’s destructive tendencies.
Instincts play a major part in a dog’s temperament, and an inclination to dig is no abnormality. In fact, some breeds are bred to do so. It is usually challenging to drive this tendency out. Therefore, before getting a dog, research the breed intensively to decide which one is the most suitable if you do not want a digger in your home.
Lack of Entertainment
When bored, we watch television, play video games or scroll social media. However, dogs cannot have such a luxurious pastime. Digging is their preferred outlet for boredom, but it can quickly become a habit to battle their boredom.
Dogs are social creatures and are happy when socializing with others. Leaving them alone or unattended for an extended period can lead to anxiety, which might be expressed through digging. Separation anxiety is not something that goes away with time, so you will have to find a proper solution to tackle it.
Dogs, especially working dogs, have high energy levels which need to be catered to. It is important to set their routine or else they will get creative and find other means to release this energy.
All dogs are naturally driven to hunt prey. Their smelling power is remarkable and can detect animals burrowed deep in the ground. They frequently dig for vermin and rodents like rats. Although these burrowing animals are harmless, that will not stop your dog from digging.
Trying to Escape
Most dogs are expert escapists. If there are no underground fences, they can successfully get out. Hence, they will dig to try to find a way out.
It is common for dogs to bury their favorite items like toys or leftover food as it is always pleasurable for them to find their belongings later. They also do this if there are other pets in the house to hide their possessions from them.
Extreme weather can harm your dog’s health. The outcomes can be deadly such as heatstroke or hypothermia. Thus, dogs dig for protection and comfort from the scorching heat or freezing winters.
How to Make Them Stop
After figuring out the cause, you need to be patient while dealing with your dog. Eventually, the digging habit will be controlled, if not completely stopped. Here’s what you can do:
Interact with Your Dog
The best solution involves attention, so spend time with your canine companion as much as you can. Bring it along with you when picking or dropping mail, getting groceries or going somewhere nearby. You can also take your dog on road trips or plan an activity like hiking or camping. It will love nothing more than spending time with you and being happy.
Keep your dog engaged with regular exercises to release all that pent-up energy. Teach it new tricks, take it on daily walks, and play games like tug of war and fetch. All these activities will help alleviate your pet’s boredom or anxiousness, and your dog will dig less.
Mental stimulation is just as necessary as physical exercise. If you don’t want your dog ruining your backyard, get it brain-teasing and time-consuming toys. Scent toys are great for hiding treats that your dog can discover. Furthermore, noisy, interactive toys are playful to squeeze and throw around. They will keep the dog busy, even when it’s alone.
Don’t Leave Toys Outdoors
To prevent your dog from burying possessions, do not allow it to bring toys outside. Keep an eye out while it’s playing as the urge to bury might take hold at any moment. Whenever it happens, immediately distract your furry friend with other stuff. Also, be sure never to leave any toy outside after your dog is done playing as it can go missing later when you are not watching.
Block Escape Routes
If your dog keeps making holes in certain places, discourage it through deterring solutions. One way to do so is to put underground fences or large heavy blocks in the already dug holes. You can also barricade the problem areas by placing sturdy and unbendable wiring. Another great deterrent is using a combination of vinegar and citrus fruit peels. Thorny rose bushes may also serve as barriers for concerned spots.
Specify the Digging Location
Despite your best efforts, certain dogs cannot defeat this practice. Breeds like dachshunds and terriers are naturally prone to digging because they were bred for tunneling to catch prey. It can be hard to break this habit, but you can control it.
You should start by providing a suitable place to dig like a sandbox or a designated spot in the lawn. Train your dog to ensure it sticks to the specified area. Also, praise and reward it with treats for digging in the right place.
Create Shade and Shelter
In the summer months, your dog will want protection from the heat. Provide some shade in the yard for it to cool off so that it won’t dig to get that shelter. You can place a hammock or stretched tarp between trees. Make sure your dog has access to fresh drinking water as well and do not leave it outside in extremely high or low temperatures.
If there are wild creatures burrowing underneath your lawn, your dog will try to hunt them down no matter what. To get rid of this problem, trap or catch such creatures in the most humane way possible. Be cautious, though, when using toxic chemicals to lure them out. It can be dangerous for your dog as well as other wildlife. You can also contact an animal control authority to get rid of this wildlife.
The above strategic measures are beneficial for curbing digging. All you need is time, patience, effective stimuli and proper training. If it still does not work, seek an animal trainer or behaviorist.