Tired of coming home to find your dog has dug up your lawn or garden bed? It's a familiar sight for dog owners around the world, and one of the more frustrating elements of being a dog owner. Certain breeds are particularly prone to this kind of behaviour (We're looking at you retrievers).
The most important thing that the dog owners need to know is that dogs dig for various reasons. By understanding the reasons for your dogs digging you will be able to address the root cause and take actions to stop their naughty behaviour.
Read on to learn about the underlying reasons for dogs digging, and simple strategies you can implement today to stop this behaviour.
The underlying reasons for dogs digging
Lack of Entertainment And Exercise
Some dogs dig because they are bored inside the home, or they don’t anything to keep the occupied. Also, if you leave your dogs in the backyard for a longer period of time without anyone to play with, they will more then likely end up digging as their nose and curiosity gets the better of them.
On the other hand, there are some breeds of dogs that are bred to dig. You will also find some dogs that are way too energetic and are always looking for ways burn up their energy.
In such cases, you need to take your dog out for regular exercise. When dogs don’t get enough exercise, they are more prone to start digging. So, to prevent behavioral problems caused by lack of activity or exercise, you need to come up with opportunities where the dogs can play and utilize energy, allowing them to relax or sleep once they get home.
Search of a prey
At times, when the dogs are out in the yard, they may come across burrowing animals or insects. Due to this, they may start digging as they follow their nose down the literal hole. As they keep looking for prey that they can hunt they will mess up the yard in the process.
The only solution to this problem is to get rid of the burrowing animals. Make sure that you use humane methods to get rid of the small animals. Also, keep in mind you don’t have to use toxic chemicals to kill the animals. It is not only dangerous for the small animals but also for the plants in the yard. The dogs can also be exposed to such chemicals. So, avoiding them is the best. If you dog only started digging because of the burrowing animals, then removing the animal will likely stop the dogs digging right away.
The need to be protected
Sometimes, dogs feel insecure or afraid of their surroundings. Due to fear, they dig. Also, they may dig to protect themselves from weather conditions. On hot days, they may look for cool dirt, on cold days they dig to find warmth. Rain can also cause them to dig.
If your dog is digging in search of protection then you need to make sure that it is getting the adequate protection that it needs. Try bringing the dog inside, pet it and also try to take away the fear.
If you intend to leave your dog out in the yard then make sure that the shelter outside is comfortable enough for your dog, and provides them with protection from the elements. Dogs love to feel secure, so a kennel with sides and a roof is a better option than just soft bed.
Lack of attention
Lastly, lack of attention is one of the major factors that may cause digging. If the dog is not getting enough attention, you will notice behavioral changes. One of these behavioural changes is digging. They may do this purely out of frustration of not receiving enough attention, and indicates them trying to communicate with you.
The simple solution to this problem is to shower your pup with a lot of love. Provide it with treats, cuddles, spend time playing and this will definitely improve their behavior.
The urge to escape
Some dogs may even dig in order to escape the yard. If they see a weak spot in your fencing, they may try to dig underneath it. In this case, you have to adjust the fencing. Make sure that there are no spaces or spots that may tempt your dog to start digging.
Simple strategies to prevent digging
Now that you understand why you dog is digging, we can look at simple strategies you can implement today to stop this unwanted behaviour.
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise!
Providing your dog with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation will ensure once they are left alone in the yard, they will be less tempted to start digging, and will more likely want to rest and have a sleep. Most dogs will be satisfied with one walk a day, however certain breeds can require up to two or even three walks a day to tire them out. If possible it's also good to include some dog socialising in their exercise program to provide further mental stimulation.
If there are certain areas of the yard that your dog is prone to digging up, such as the veggie garden, then you can use barriers to protect these areas. Ensure the barriers are well constructed and high enough to prevent your dog from simply jumping over them.
Provide the dog with a designated area
If you have tried multiple strategies and nothing is working, then you may want to try providing your dog with a designated area where they are allowed to dig. Certain breeds of dog just love to dig. A simple sand pit in the corner of the yard can give them a spot to dig all day long, and you can entice them into it by hiding their toys or treats in the sand. It might take them a little while to work out where they are allowed to and not allowed to dig, but this can be a successful long term strategy.
Introduce new toys to create distraction
Though your dog may have a favourite toy, they may also get tired of it after a little while. Fortunately there are heaps of different options available on the market, including interactive toys that can provide your dog with much needed mental stimulation. If your dog is showing disinterest in their current toy collection, then it may be time to provides them with some new stimulating toys. These will provide a welcome distraction and go a long way to preventing them from digging.
Sprinkle cayenne pepper in the areas where the dog digs
This may sound like a cruel solution, but in reality it's not. By sprinkling a small amount of cayenne pepper over your law, your dog's excellent sense of smell will pick up the scent and trigger them to avoid the area. You don't need to use a lot as a dogs nose is 10,000 to 100,000 times more powerful than our own. You may need to do this regularly to protect the area.
Cover the ground with something hard
If your dog is prone to digging up your garden beds, then a potential solution is to add a hard cover. You could fill the beds with pebbles or rocks, or try using a weed barrier to cover the dirt. Alternatively you could consider replacing your lawn with artificial synthetic turf or grass.
So too summarise, now that we understand the reasons for your dogs bad behaviour, we can implement some simple strategies that will ensure their digging is a thing of the past. Every dog is different, and they will respond to different strategies, so you may have to try a few different ones before you find something that work effectively. If you have some further suggestions or ideas, let us know in the comments below!
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