Photo by Jamie Street
Dogs have a natural inclination to dig holes. It is instinctive behavior, but can be extremely destructive and inappropriate for dogs that spend a great deal of time in yards. A digging dog can ruin a great landscaping job, creating both great annoyance and expense for his owner. If your dog is a problem digger, there are three effective means by which to combat this frustrating behavior. These three guidelines, used in concert, will often eliminate digging behavior in dogs.
Address Your Dogs Comfort
First, it is important to realize one of the most common motivations for digging. Dogs often dig holes as a means of personal climate control. On hot days a dog may dig himself a cooling well. His newly dug hole will be a place for him to rest on a surface that is cooler than the rest of the ground.
If your dog's digging habits seem to be related to heat, it is easy to solve the problem simply by addressing his needs. By providing a cool, shaded location in the yard, your dog may no longer feel a need to dig. Many have found that the use of a kiddy pool or other larger tub containing some water may also be of use in this endeavor. By making the dog's surroundings cooler, you can easily eliminate his need to remove chunks of the yard to relax.
Likewise, dogs will sometimes dig to create a warm space during cold weather. By digging a small pit in which they can rest, the dog creates a space removed from brisk winds. Again, it is relatively easy to address the situation. Providing a warm space, such as a well-insulated doghouse can reduce the dog's need to dig holes throughout your lawn.
By tending to their comfort, one can reduce a prime motivator of digging behavior. Keeping a pet adequately cooled during the summer and sufficiently warm in the winter is one of the most simple, yet effective, means of eliminating digging.
Exercise Your Dog Adequately
Dogs will also dig when they are inadequately exercised or are overly confined. A dog with excess energy to burn may turn to digging as a means of release. A dog who feels confined in his yard and yearns to run free will be likewise attracted to the prospect of digging those annoying holes.
This cause for digging can be addressed simply by making sure your dog is adequately exercised. Regular walks, play opportunities and other exercise outlets will leave your dog better rested and less inclined to dig. The value of exercising a dog is immeasurable. It produces a happier, calmer dog who is more receptive to training and who is likely to be considerably more healthy than his under-exercised brethren. Thus, exercise should be pursued in all cases with all dogs. However, it brings with it the additional advantage of decreasing the level of interest the dog will show in digging.
Keep Your Dog Entertained
Digging can also be symptomatic of boredom. A dog with little to do may find the instinctive behavior of digging holes to be a great way to occupy his time. The bored dog is more likely to seek solace in the instinctive act of digging holes than is the appropriately engaged pet.
As such, one can combat digging simply by making sure the dog has sufficient alternative sources of entertainment. As previously mentioned, regular exercise and activity offers hope in reducing digging behavior. Additionally, the presence of attractive and entertaining toys can provide a dog with other ways to spend his time and can reduce the likelihood that he will dig holes.
Dogs who are simply left alone in a yard with little else to do are, not surprisingly, apt to invent their own diversions. As digging is an instinctive activity, it is often latched upon as something to do for an otherwise bored dog. By providing more attractive play activities, one can remove this frequent cause of destructive digging behavior.
There are certainly other reasons why dogs dig and there are certainly problem dogs whose digging behavior will not immediately cease simply by following the three rules covered here. However, most dogs will curtail their destructive digging if their climate is appropriately managed, they are adequately exercised and they are provided with alternative diversions.
Though instinctive, digging is not necessarily inevitable. By tending to needs of the dog, one can reduce instances of inappropriate digging.