Belgian Sheepdog on dog transport from Florida to Massachusetts

Digging Dogs: I Can Dig That!

Digging Dogs: 101

Digging dogs. Some do it. A lot. Feverishly and relentlessly, they dig. No matter how many times you scold them and tell them how unacceptable it is for them to dig up your prized daffodils … still, they dig.

Dogs dig for various reasons, but in general it comes down to these things: Heat, boredom, prey, attention and escape. Addressing the root of the problem is the first step.  Still, it may not solve the issue entirely without a bit of work.

Perhaps your pup is feeling a little warm and is just looking for a cool place to lie down for a while? The first step is to make sure your pup has a shady area where he can retreat, no matter what time of day. Keep in mind that if he is confined in an outdoor area, his shade may move throughout the day. Be sure to provide plenty of water for your pup at all times when he is outside, especially during warmer weather. Try to keep his water in the shade as well, since warm or hot water doesn’t do much to cool down a hot dog!

The second reason for digging, boredom, can be more difficult to address.

The solution may be as easy as bringing your pup into the house more often. Allowing him to spend more time with you may help.  Or it may take a bit more time and energy on your part.. Other suggestions are to provide a few toys for your pup to play with.  One of my personal favorites is a Kong.  They make a variety of toys other than the original, so visit your favorite pet supply store to check them out!  A Kong is great for many reasons. They are constructed of made-for-chewing rubber that is virtually indestructible. They bounce in fun ways, and once loaded with a treat they provide your pet something to do while they work to get the treat out!

If toys don’t seem to make a difference, perhaps your dog just needs some good old-fashioned wearing out! Take him for at least two walks a day – or for a run. Throw a ball or frisbee. Play tug o’ war, fetch. Play until he’s too tired to dig, and do it regularly. Yes, it may wear you out too, but if you’re anything like me, a little extra exercise wouldn’t hurt!

Is being a digging dog bred into your pup’s behavior? Terriers or other dogs who are bred to flush out small prey may be digging for moles, other rodents, or insects. Is he digging at the base of a tree? In a flower bed? The best solution for this is to find a safe, non-toxic way to remove his prey (thus temptation). Try to convince him not to dig by using chicken wire around the area. digging dog

If your dog is digging along the fenceline or under the fence, he may be trying to escape from or to something.

Take a look around and try to determine what could be going on. Is there a dog in next yard that your pup wants to go visit? Is there another dog in your yard that your dog is afraid of?

A final suggestion for those tough-to-dissuade digging dogs:

Provide an area where digging is acceptable, then train your dog to dig there.  You may have to place a temporary pen around the area, add sand or loose soil and encourage digging by burying a toy or treat underground.  Praise your pup when he digs in the appropriate area, and try not to react with more than a “No Dig!” when he chooses the wrong spot to dig.  Know there will be a digging mishap or two while your dog is outside of the approved digging area, but plenty of love and positive reinforcement should help make a difference!

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