This blog is for all those dog owners that leave the house and come back to a backyard with no lawn! Owning a dog that regularly digs can be frustrating at times, so we've come up with some great tips on how to deal with it.
Firstly, it is important to understand the root cause of this digging. Digging can be caused by such things as;
- Relief from boredom
- Trying to escape
- Seeking protection
- Instinct (this is especially common in dog breeds known for their digging)
- A result of pent up anger or anxiety
Secondly, it is important to make sure your dog's needs are met;
Company/interaction - Spending time playing with your dog is essential. Teaching your dog, even older dogs, tricks on the daily is a great way to stimulate their brains. Practice these and/or play fetch for at least 10 minutes a day.
Exercise - Walk your dog at least once daily. Insufficient exercise is a leading cause of problem behaviours.
Chewing needs - When you're not home, make sure your pup has interesting chew toys. Rotate the toys to keep things interesting for your dog.
Shelter - Some dogs dig to provide themselves protection from the weather. Provide your dog with a comfortable dog house in which they feel they can be safe from the weather.
Here are some tips that you can implement once you've made sure you have the suggestions above in order;
Provide an acceptable digging area - Find an area in your yard where it is acceptable to dig. Firstly, make sure your dog is attracted to the area. Bury safe toys and chew items for them to discover. If your dog goes to find the items and digs in the acceptable zone reward them in the form of a food treat or some vocal praise. If your dog starts digging in an unacceptable area, call them over and encourage them to dog in the acceptable area. If your pup digs in this area reward them with lots of praise ie a treat and vocal praise. Try and make the unacceptable zone unattractive your dog. This can be done placing a temporary fence around it or by putting rocks over it.
Digging along the fence line - If your dog is digging along the fence line it generally means they are trying to escape. This can be caused by a number of reasons such as separation anxiety. If this is the case you'll need to resolve the issue of separation anxiety. We have a great article here on things to alleviate this problem. Click here for article.
Avoid punishing your dog - Punishing your dog will not address the underlying cause of the behaviour, it will make most dogs worse. This is especially true if your dog's behaviour is caused by fear or anxiety.
If all of these things combined aren't working for your dog we recommend you consult a veterinary behavioural specialist.
We hope this article was helpful and would love to hear from you if you have tried these strategies or have a general comment about the article. Also, scroll down to the bottom of this page to subscribe to our blog. We post informational blogs for dog and cat owners twice weekly.
The Pampered Pet Team
There are also some great tips at the RSPCA's website, click here to access this.