How to Stop a Dog from Digging: 10 fool proof tips
You may be at the point of tearing your hair out when you look out your kitchen window and see your perfectly tended garden accessorized with a barrage of muddy holes and torn up grass, but take comfort in the knowledge that you are most definitely not alone. One of the most asked questions by dog owners everywhere is how to stop a dog from digging. The first thing you need to remember is that as much as your dog constantly digging away might cause you to feel an angry bubble of rage in your stomach, they really are not doing it to spite you. There are a wide variety of reasons that your dog may enjoy a good dig. For example, they might feel bored and need some sort of mental and physical stimulation, or maybe your flower beds have had the desired effect and they really love the fresh scent and the soft dirt. It is also possible for dogs to be attracted to the scent of fertilizer. A dog’s sense of smell is extremely superior to humans so any scent is likely to exert more of a reaction from them than it would a human. You might also find that your dog is digging more in the summer than the winter, if they are this could be a survival technique, a way to find themselves shelter and cool down from the hot sun. They also might use digging holes as a way to store their precious items such as bones, food and their favourite toys. Working out the reasons why a dog is digging is the first step in finding out how to stop a dog from digging.
Time for the Tips
So, once you have established why your dog is digging, you need some great tips on how to stop a dog digging for good.
- Exercise – Although you might love being able to curl up with your dog on the sofa, they are not a teddy bear. Dogs are animals and like every animal including humans, they need to be active! Make a consistent effort to give your dog lots of exercise, they need plenty of mental and physical stimulation in order to thrive. But this doesn’t just have to mean walking around the park a few times and chucking a stick every now and then, you can make it fun for you as well as fun for your dog. Maybe try running with your dog or even hiking with your dog. Make it a great experience for both of you.
- Confinement – If you feel like you can’t leave your dog alone for five minutes, because as soon as you turn your back they are digging under next doors fence, then maybe you could consider using an indoor crate or a kennel run. This is not a long term solutions but basic crate training may help buy you some time to get to the root of the digging problem once and for all.
- Diversion Tactics – If you can work out the regular places that your puppy likes to dig, then you can put your secret MI5 skills in to practice, and do some digging yourself. Try blowing up balloons and burying them in their favourite digging area. When they hit the balloons the noise will shock them and dissuade them from digging in that place again. Hopefully if this happens enough times, the aversion of the noise of the balloon will divert them from digging altogether.
- Negative Reinforcement – As a similar technique to the diversion tactics, if you don’t have any balloons to hand then you can use something else that you will likely have available; the humble garden hose. Every time you catch your dog starting a digging spree, spray him quickly with the garden hose. There is no need to drench them, just a quick forceful burst will do to shock them out of the behaviour. This will form a negative association between digging and being sprayed with the hose, and should eventually dissuade them from engaging in any digging at all. However, training your dog should not be a fully negative affair. Try to include just as much if not more positive reinforcement, praise them frequently for any good behaviour that they display.
- Designated Digging – If you can spare the room in your garden, it might be a good idea to cordon off an area in which your dog is allowed to dig in. This can give them the freedom that they need whilst also keeping the rest of your garden safe. Although this isn’t without its complications as you will need to train them to dig in the designated area only, and this may take some time, so be prepared for a few unsanctioned holes to spring up from time to time. If you don’t have a garden and there is somewhere within your home that you don’t mind getting a little messy, you could try using a child’s sandbox as a way for your dog to get their digging practice in.
- Fill the Gaps – A lot of time dogs dig to get underneath things like a wall or a fence. If you have been closely monitoring where and where your dog likes to dig and find that your dog is frequently doing this then it might be a good idea to fill in all the holes under your fence. Try to block out any visual temptations that they might become distracted by or attracted to, if they can’t see something that they want to get at then they will be less likely to be digging to reach it.
- The Thrill of the Hunt – Your dog might be digging because they are trying to catch small animals or insects. This is quite a difficult problem to solve, but there are many problems on the market that can dissuade insects and other animals from entering your garden using completely humane methods. In order to determine if your dogs are hunting, you should keep track of where they are digging. If they tend to dig in a focused area, usually around the roots of trees or other shrubbery then it is likely that they are grazing for some new animal friends.
- Cool Them Down – As you read earlier, sometimes dogs dig as a way to cool themselves down in hot weather. The answer to this dilemma is pretty simple. When the weather begins to get hotter, try to keep your dog indoors apart from designated outings. It may also be a good idea to install a doghouse or some sort of shelter in your garden. As well as, continuously provide your dog with plenty of cool fresh water and keep watch for signs of overheating such as regular panting.
- Attention Seeking – In this crazy 24 hour world we now live in, we’re all busy all of the time, and maybe your dog is reacting to this. Just like a child, dogs will act up if they are not getting enough attention. However, the answer to stopping them digging for attention is not just to scold them for the action. You need to teach them that there is a difference between positive and negative attention, so try to spend more time with them and make sure you praise them regularly for good behaviour, that way when you give them negative attention for digging they will realise this is not the correct way to get the attention they want.
- Playtime – If you are adverse to the idea of crate training, then you may need some other distractions to keep your dog from digging. In order to do this, you can stock up on some fun and interesting chew toys for your dog. Spreading these throughout your garden in moderately hidden but easy to reach places can add an element of adventure to their outside time. Toys that are filled with tasty food treats are also a good idea, as well as a raw bone can keep most dogs happy for hours. Keeping your dog busy and stimulated really is the key in finding the best technique to answer the dilemma of how to stop a dog from digging, as well as, having plenty of stimulation and exercise is only going to benefit your dog in the long run and go towards them living a long and healthy life.
Training a dog can be a huge struggle for a lot of owners, and constant digging may forge a divide between you and your dog. Obviously, this is the exact opposite of what you want, your dog is not just a pet, they are also your friend and falling out with friends is never a good experience. Hopefully these 10 fool proof tips will get you started on the road to recovery. Use these helpful hints to help stop your dog digging for good and give new life to your friendship.