Monday, February 16, 2009

Why Do Dogs Dig?

Digging is instinctive behavior for a dog. Dogs may dig for any of the following reasons: they are bored; it's fun; they are hot; they are trying to escape; they are lonely; they have excess energy; or you have put fertilizers in the garden (nice smelling to your dog).

To stop the digging, try to find the reason.
Alleviate the boredom. If you leave your dog alone in the yard for long periods of time, provide him with something to do. Leave him with bones to chew or toys to play with. (Bones really need to be supervised and some toys also are dangerous.) It would be a good idea to exercise and play with your pet before leaving him. He probably would sleep instead of being destructive.
A lonely dog can be a digging dog. It's no fun being left alone most of the day. Dogs are pack animals and crave company. If you work long hours or are away from home a lot consider hiring a professional dog walker, a neighbor who would take him for walks or a doggy day care. Boredom sets in when dogs are in the back yard for hours on end. Bring him inside and let him be part of the family.
Your dog may be digging holes to keep cool. In hot weather many dogs will dig a cool hole to lie in. Ensure that your dog has a cool place to retreat to during the heat of the day or bring him inside. Make sure that he has plenty of water. Another idea is to supply him with a kiddie wading pool. Many dogs just love to splash and play in these and after cooling down will not have a need to dig a hole.
Dogs may dig under fences and gates in order to escape. They usually want to escape because they are bored and things look more interesting on the outside. If your dog is not spayed or neutered he/she may be trying to escape in order to mate. Spaying or neutering usually fixes this problem.
Let him have a designated digging area. Some breeds have a very strong instinct to dig. Perhaps there is one part of your yard that you will permit digging.
To stop dog re-digging existing holes. Use dog-poop! Place some of his poop in the hole. Lay chicken wire over the hole.
When Buddy was a puppy, I filled a soda can with pennies with the top tapped shut. When he started to dig, I shook the can, yelled NO, startling him. Don't let him see that you have the can. Buddy never dug in the back yard again.