Dogs love to dig! This isn’t a big surprise to most people. However, digging is seen as a bad habit by most owners. Whether the digging is under the fence, under a shady tree, in your flower bed or a crater in your yard, dogs dig for a reason, and addressing the reason will bring you better reliable success than trying to ‘fix the problem’. Remember, while you see a problem, your dog is doing a very natural behavior for a dog, and the intrinsic value for a dog can be great. Your dog sees no problem with the holes in your yard!
How can we resolve this? First we need to consider where your dog is digging. Is your dog is digging under the fence? Under a tree, or in the shade? Just a random place?
Location can be a helpful indicator as to why the dog is digging. If your dog is digging under the fence there is a decent chance your dog wants to roam. Remember, all dogs are meant to move, and are not engineered to live in a back yard. Maybe there is a dog next door your dog wants to go meet. Or perhaps there is a dog in heat in the area that your dog is scenting.
How about in the shade or in the flower bed? At the base of trees and in flower beds you will often find damp soil, and lots of nutrients for the plants from a fertilizer. Even if it’s not fresh, you’re dog is going to be drawn this area to dig to unearth more smells and to have a nice cool place to lay down if it is hot outside.
Finally, how about that giant random crater in the middle of your yard? Well, maybe your dog just wants to dig! Digging is a natural experience for dogs, it is very satisfying for them to dig, both physically and mentally. Your dog also may be hearing things under the surface that you cannot. Gophers, moles, or water running through sprinklers underground can all encourage a curious dog to dig a little deeper.
So, what should you do?
For starters, exercise. Mental and physical exercise should be a daily routine with you and your dog. Second, have an alternative “cool” place for your dog to go lay down if they are outside, so they are less likely to want to dig a cool spot in the dirt. And my top suggestion — give them a place they can dig. Like I said, digging is a very natural and rewarding experience for your dog. So let them dig! Find a kiddie pool full of dirt, or a sand box, and designate it the place for your dog to dig. Bury their toys and let them dig them up.
Here at Doglando we have digging space and non-digging space. This helps the dogs learn that there are places in which one digs, and places in which one does not dig. Any place we have sand is a Digging Zone! Dogs are encouraged to dig in the sand, find a piece of kibble, or a hidden toy. (Anyplace there is dirt or grass is off limits for digging, and we will direct them onto the sand to dig.)