Why Dogs Dig and How to Resolve the Problem

February 14, 2019
As a dog owner with over 25 years of experience, I can attest that having a dog is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened in my life. The companionship and joy they bring is incomparable.

Nothing is more annoying than coming home to discover that the flowerbed has been dug up by a busy dog. Happily, yards and dogs can coexist peacefully with the right knowledge.

Why do Dogs Dig?

Sometimes the answer to this question simply involves the personality of each individual dog. Some breeds are also known for their devoted digging habits such as terrier and huskies. Perspective dog owners that are concerned about their yard and garden may want to avoid breeds that have a strong disposition towards the digging trait.

Besides genetic leanings towards the habit there can be many other reasons that dogs dig.

  • • Separation anxiety can cause nervous canines to form many different habits to relive their tension, including digging.
  • • Some dogs are simply escape artists that constantly strive to be free of any confinement.
  • • Bored dogs that are lacking attention often look for alternate ways to entertain themselves and digging is a common occurrence
  • • High energy canines that are not getting enough exercise also turn to energetic ways to dispel their excess energy.

These four common reasons for digging are fairly simple to solve. Dogs with severe anxiety may need veterinary care while escape artists may need to be crated when no one is home or be on a properly built dog run. High energy dogs need more exercise and bored dogs require more interaction and exercise to keep them fit both physically and mentally.

For dogs that dig for other reasons such as pure enjoyment, the owners will have to exercise more creativity to solve the problem.

Solutions to the Problem of Digging

The easiest answer is to make sure that the dog cannot access sensitive areas such as flower and garden beds. This can be accomplished by building fences and barriers to prevent the dog from gaining entry into these spaces.

The best way to prevent digging is to ensure that the dog never has unsupervised time outside. If there is a person watching him whenever he is out, digging can be stopped before damage is done. This method combined with positive reinforcement will also teach dogs that digging is not an acceptable behavior and is a good long term solution if the manpower is available to monitor the dog’s activities.

If the dog really loves to dig another method is to create a designated area for this pastime. By allowing the dog a fixed place to make holes he can still enjoy his favorite bad habit and the owner can live with the resulting digging zone. When dealing with a small yard with restricted square footage a sandbox can be constructed and filled with sand and soil to create a small dig zone. This method also requires supervision as the dog will have to be monitored and corrected to move to the designated space, but for owners that love to make their pets happy; this is the most enjoyable solution.

With time, patience and some trial and error digging can be contained or eliminated completely, letting dogs and owners be happier with each other.

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