Digging is a natural instinct for dogs, and for some breed types the need to dig can be quite strong. In order to help provide your dog alternatives to digging up your garden, let’s take a look at why your dog might be digging.
Dogs dig because:
- Digging is a fun way to get exercise
- Digging can act as a stress reliever
- Digging creates a place to hide toys and resources
- Digging up items hidden below the soil is rewarding
- Digging provides access to cool soil to lay on
- Digging may provide access under a fence for escape
If your dog is digging to get exercise, bury resources, or relieve stress and boredom:
Consider providing your dog alternatives. More interactive playtime and confidence-building training exercises can help. Providing your dog access to an area where they are allowed to dig can be a game changer.
Give your dog a dig pit, or an area in your yard that you have clearly identified with visual markers. Redirect any inappropriate digging onto this special area. Reward them with treats and praise when they choose the special area.
If your dog is digging to find a cool spot to relax on a warm day:
Consider providing a raised cooling platform bed in a shaded area or allowing them access indoors.
If your dog digs as a means to escape:
Consider allowing your dog only supervised access outdoors and reinforce the fencing border by burying chicken wire or adding other wire fence augmentations.
Building a dig pit is fun!
Make sure the area is large enough for your dog’s size. They should be able to fully stretch out and turn around comfortably. Add sand or dirt and plenty of fun new toys.
SMART TIP: Get creative!
If you only concentrate on stopping the digging without addressing its underlying cause, chances are other undesired behaviors will pop up. Instead, find an alternative behavior that satisfies your dog’s need to dig or relieve stress.
We are always here to help! You can find additional behavior and training resources at pasadenahumane.org/behavior.