How to stop your dog from digging

Red Cavoodle puppy

Digging is a natural behaviour for our dogs and the ancestors of our dogs and the domestic dogs that have become feral dogs in the wild. Dogs dig dens to raise their puppies in as the den protects the young from extremes of hot and cold and help to protect and hide the vulnerable pups from predators. Dogs will also dig small holes to bury precious items such as food and bones. These behaviours have helped dogs to survive and are firmly ingrained into our dogs, even in breeds such as the Cavoodle that are not common diggers. Some terrier breeders have taken advantage of this and bred to encourage the digging instinct. This is the case with the Jack Russell Terrier that will often dig at the opening of a burrow of an animal that they are hunting in an attempt to get to it.

Why does my pet dog dig?

Even though your pet dog no longer raises a litter, dogs still dig to keep cool in the hot wether as the hole provides them with a comfortable spot to get out of the elements. Usually the hole is large enough for the dog to lie in and located in the shade of a tree or outdoor structure such as a shed or garage.

Some dogs just love to dig for the pure entertainment value. They love to get to a sandy or loose soil part of the yard which frustratingly, is usually the garden beds and lawn and dog little holes all over the place. Some dogs will never dig holes for years but then once they discover the joy of it, they can quickly make it a habit. They may also use these little holes to go back to in order to bury the new prized possession such as the bone they never got around to chewing completely or one of your belonging that they have managed to steal while you weren’t there or just weren’t looking. Burying bones and left over food is a survival technique that allowed dogs to survive in the wild and can be deeply ingrained in the psyche of some dogs. These dogs will often try to ‘bury’ other objects inside the house also by placing items under the rug or couch.

Some other reasons for digging may include relieving the stress of separation anxiety, boredom, to escape the yard and even to teething pain if they have nothing to chew on.

How do I stop my dog from digging?

The best course is to prevent the behaviour from developing in the first place. The easiest cause of digging to cure is to make sure the dog has a comfortable place to rest, especially during hot and cold weather to prevent the need for the dog to make their own spot. The next step is to try to figure out why the dog is digging. If your dog is burying food and bones then you may want to watch your dog eat and remove any uneaten food and bones before he gets the chance to bury it. Making the feeding times for your dog consistent will help to reduce the dog’s need to bury and conserve food over time. Also if it is bones that your dog is burying, they try offering him chew toys that don’t smell like food to discourage the behaviour.

How do I stop my dog digging in the same spot?

If you just don’t want your dog digging in the same hole you can try to discourage him by placing his own faeces in the hole that he keeps digging as most dogs will try to avoid their own excrement especially when digging. You can also try other deterrents such as pepper in the hole to make digging more unpleasant or a quick spray with water or the hose when you catch them in the act.

What if my dog just loves to dig and I can’t stop him?

For the dog who just loves digging so much that they will not be put off by unpleasant experiences of a water spray etc, you can build a sand pit where the dog can be encouraged to dig and bury their bones and toys as well as to entertain themselves. If you have the room in your yard for this, training the dog to use it is done in the same way as training your dog to go toilet in a particular area. Provide positive reinforcement when they use the right spot for digging in the sand pit. The sand will also be a naturally inviting place for a dog to dig. Many dog breeders with dogs who love to dig will provide an area for their dogs to express this natural behaviour in the form of a sandpit. Many of these dogs who love to dig will also invent little games of burying an object and then ‘discovering’ them some time later!

 

 

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