My Dog Won’t Stop Digging – What do I do?
At North Paws Ranch, it’s not out of the ordinary for dogs to dig – they’re probably just playing! But we understand how this can be frustrating; especially when you’re trying to keep your yard looking nice. Dogs like to dig to bury bones and other treasures – a common behavior that dates back to when dogs hunted their food and buried leftovers to keep them from going bad. However, some dogs dig due to anxiety or to escape.
So, what shall I do?
If the digging is starting to frustrate you – firstly, try giving your dog plenty of regular exercise and provide them with toys to keep them occupied. Secondly, supervise them when you can. For instance, as soon as you see your dog start to dig, distract them with noises, such as blowing a loud whistle or clapping your hands. Some dog owners like to use shaker cans, which are just empty soda cans that are filled with stones. Once you’ve gained his attention, make sure you make it clear to them that they shouldn’t be digging. But do not yell! The goal of this exercise is to interrupt your dog’s train of thought by disrupting his digging Proceed to then redirect them to something completely different and fun like chasing a ball, or tug-of-war.
Trick your pooch into using their paws for other tasks
Secondly, you can distract them in a different way. Serving your dog’s meals or some treats within two or three food puzzle toys may help keep his paws away from digging. Food puzzle toys will encourage your dog to use his paws in order to gain a treat, working for his food will provide a good physical and mental outlet for them if his digging is due to excess energy or boredom. Make sure the treats in the toy are healthy and don’t overdo it – you don’t want a digging problem to turn into a weight problem! Everything in moderation.
If your dog is digging due to boredom, it may be best to try and reduce it.
- Provide entertainment with toys and play time, especially if the dog is young. Rotate the toys every half an hour or so to keep your pooch from getting bored.
- Take your dog for regular walks or runs to keep them distracted and out of energy by the time you get home. A tired dog is a key to keeping them from digging,
- Let your dogs play with other dogs – bring them to the dog park and let them sniff, adventure, and socialize to his heart’s content. Dogs will never be bored as long as other pooches are involved.
If all else fails, try more unpleasant (but not harmful) discouragements. Some dogs are disgusted by the smell of their own feces, try putting their feces in the hole they’re digging to keep them away. However, do keep in mind that some dogs eat their own feces and may see this as you dropping a treat in the hole. If this happens, don’t do it again. It completely depends on the dog.
Seek a certified dog trainer
Seeking professional help is probably the best way to combat digging – this way you’ll be able to get a diagnosis on why your pooch keeps digging. Certified dog trainers and animal behaviorists can offer you tips that are personalized to your dog and techniques for addressing the causes and conditions of his digging. Teach your dog basic commands such as “Stop,” “Sit,” “Heel,” etc. Practice these tricks once every day for 10 minutes, ignore failures and reward success. Or consider enrolling yourself and your pooch in a basic training class. When everything is done correctly, your dog should show deeper respect and remember all the commands they were taught.
Cool your dog down
Many dogs will dig a hole to lie in it and keep cool on a hot day. Find ways you can make your pup’s bed cooler and more comfortable for your pooch. You could place frozen drink bottles inside or wet towels over the top of his bed. Or you could purchase an elevated pet bed which allows air to circulate under the bed on those hot days.
Why do dogs dig?
Figuring out “why” a behavior occurs is crucial before attempting to resolve it. Here are more common reasons why your furry friend may be digging holes:
Your dog is eating soil, plants or roots.
Your yard is full of many tasty treats to your dog, who may have a taste for certain types of soil or plants. This type of digging is easy to identify because holes are usually limited in number and focused on certain choice spots in your garden.
Your dog is trying to bury toys or bones
This is a behavior your dog may have inherited. Watch your dog carefully when you give them a toy or bone to see what they do with it. If the dog starts to dig, divert their attention somewhere else.
It’s a puppy
Puppies have so much curiosity burning up inside them. They chew, tunnel, dig, and discover things because they are exploring the world. Digging is very normal for puppies, and with your patience, they should stop digging by their second birthday.
No matter what method you decide to try out, you will have to supervise your dog until they stop digging. The pooch won’t do it by themselves. Once they start to understand the routine, you can increase the distance between you and your pup. Take into account that some dogs may always need supervision no matter what because when they’re left alone, they may proceed to dig in any areas that look like digging heaven to them. Obviously, this can be frustrating but remember not to yell – you do not want to frighten your furry friend. This can inhibit your dog from digging in front of you and cause them to start digging when you’re not in the yard to supervise. If digging is still a problem even after trying these tips, it may be best to seek professional help from your veterinarian.
North Paws Ranch loves each of our guest, no matter what quirks or habits that come with! If you are looking for more tips, check out our blog or Reserve a Stay with us today and ask about our certified on site dog training!