Most dogs love to dig holes, unfortunately if you own a dog you will come across a digging problem sooner or later. One of the most common questions I receive from dog owners is "How do I Stop My Dog From Digging?"
Dogs dig for a number of reasons, its important to keep in mind that your dog is not digging to spite you. If you dont clearly communicate to your dog that his digging is unacceptable, he wont realise that he is doing anything wrong.
Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?
In order to stop your dog from digging holes it is crucial to determine the reason why your dog is digging in the first place. Below is a list of the most common reasons your dog may be digging:
- He simply likes to dig!
- Your dog may just looking for some attention.
- May be bored and digs for mental and physical stimulation.
- If your dog is digging under the fence he may be trying to get out to search for a mate.
- Dogs often dig in freshly turned dirt (like your rose bed!).
- Dogs are often attracted to fertilized dirt - the fertilizer is irresistible to some dogs.
- To dig themselves a den - much as they would have in the wild.
- For shelter, to cool themselves down or warm themselves up.
- Some breeds are very prone to digging (terriers), it is instinctual and bred into them.
- May be because your dog is hunting for some little critters that live in your garden.
- For food storage purposes. While you and me prefer to use the fridge, our dogs think the garden will do just fine.
How To Stop A Dog From Digging
Whenever you are trying to change any behavior in your dog the golden rule is be consistent! Make it very clear to your dog what is, and is not acceptable behavior.
Depending on the reason you believe your dog is digging, you can apply some of these proven techniques:
- Give your dog lots of exercise, including heaps of physical and mental stimulation.
- If your dog is always digging in order to bury a bone, dont give bones! Substitute with chewing toys like rawhide bones.
- Confine your dog when you cant supervise him. Place him in a crate or kennel run whenever you arent around to spy on him. Youll need to do this until you have fixed the digging problem.
- Blow up some balloons and bury them in the area your dog likes to dig. When he strikes a balloon, the noise of it popping startles your dog. In some cases the negative association this produces is enough to stop your dog from digging in the future.
- If you are able to be around your dog for a couple of days, you could have some success with this method. Whenever your dog starts to dig, reprimand him and spray him with the hose. Again this method produces a negative association to your dog each time he digs. You must be perform this reprimand every time your dog starts digging holes.
- If your dog has a favorite spot he likes to dig you can bury some chicken wire just under the surface of this area. When your dog starts to dig he wont like the feeling of his paws scraping along the wire. Ive used this method myself and found that it worked well for my dalmation puppy.
- This one doesnt sound very nice but is a very popular and effective way to stop your dog from digging. What you do is fill up the holes your dog has created, adding some of his poop (feces) to the filling. Most dogs are really put off by this and wont attempt to dig again. Some trainers advocate feeding your dog pineapple before performing this technique. Apparently the pineapple smells terrible when mixed with the poop.
- Some dogs just copy what they see their owners doing. So if youre working away in the garden, suddenly your dog may be interested in doing the same! Such dogs may need to be confined while you are working in the garden.
- If youve got the room a great solution for both you and your dogs is to provide them with a digging area. You can actually encourage your dog to dig in this designated area. Fill it with nice soft sand and bury some of your dogs favorite treats in it. Most dogs figure out that if they want to dig, they must go to this area.
- If your dog is digging under the fence it may be worth filling in all the holes in and under the fence. This takes away the visual temptation your dog may be trying to get at.
- If none of the above methods work for you and your dogs, you may wish to try a remote electronic training collar or e-collar. This method does work, although I realise many dog owners dont like the sound of using such a device. In reality it works the same way as many of the other techniques in that it provides a negative association to the act of digging.
- If you take a trip down to your local Pet Shop you will find many commercial products that claim to help digging problems. They are effective for some dogs and may be worth a try.
Good luck with stopping your dog from digging, and remember that basic dog obedience training is the key to correcting any dog behavioral problems. If your dog respects and trusts you, he will be eager to please you in all situations.