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Is Your Dog Diggin’ It?
Is walking through your yard an ankle twister? Did you inspect for gophers and moles and find nothing?
It might be your dog is digging your yard, and not in a cool way.
Canines dig for different reasons. Some are even bred for digging after vermin, like Dachshunds and terriers.
Let’s take a look at some the reasons why your dog may dig and how to work on positive behavior change.
Your dog is hunting prey
Many breeds are out for the hunt. If you see signs of intense digging in one area or trails of digging, your dog may be in pursuit. Search for signs of burrowers such as rabbits or gophers. Remember not to use poisons to rid your yard of digging vermin, in case your dog or another area pet tries to hunt or ingest the animal.
Your dog needs entertainment or attention
If your pup is left in the yard for long without company or playthings, they may begin to dig. Dogs need to keep their mind busy and work off energy. They depend on members of their social order, in this case, their human family, to aid in playtime. Your dog may dig only when you are away or even dig when you are around, seeking your approval of the game. Offering favorite toys when your dog must be alone as well as providing positive reinforcement and redirection at playtime can help reduce digging behavior.
Your dog needs comfort or protection
Another reason for digging may be related to the environment. In the heat, your pooch may be seeking a cool area. In the cold, wind or rain, your dog may be seeking warmth and a dry spot. Some canines also dig dens when they feel frightened by too much stimulation, such as a lot of loud noise. They might dig if they feel ill. Double check to make sure all outside comforts are the right size, in a good area of the yard and comfortable for your pet. A good guideline to remember is that if you are cold, they are cold, but if you are hot, they are probably hotter. Bring them indoors, out of the inclement weather. You may also want to consult your vet to ensure your dog is healthy.
Your dog is trying to escape from or to something
Digging along the fence and gate line may be a sign your pup is trying to escape. Something in the yard may be bothering Fido, or there may be something much more interesting on the other side of the fence. Make sure that there is nothing in the yard that is upsetting your canine, and then examine the area around your home for those interesting things such as wildlife tracks or toys and bones strewn in the front yard. Then secure your fences line with a deterrent such as chicken wire or large rocks, partially buried, along the bottom of the fence line. If your fence is chain-link, upgrade with privacy slats or a wooden fence as a sight barrier. Work with your canine through redirection and positive reinforcement.
Establish a “Digging Zone”
If your dog is a hot-diggity digger and nothing seems to change that, give your family friend a play zone for digging. The area should have loose soil, or it can be mixed with sand. Many owners like using child-sized sandboxes. Bury favorite toys and offer positive reinforcement when your dog finds the treasures. If your pooch is digging outside of the zone, redirect the behavior. Give praise for any positive actions taken there right away.
Most digging can be prevented or nipped in the bud by human supervision. The easiest cure for digging is simply not to leave your pet unattended for long periods of time. (“Long” varies by dog. “Long” is long enough for them to get into trouble on their own.)
Still can't solve your dog's digging problem? Contact Head of the Class Dog Training. We are here to offer guidance, and if we can’t help you directly, chances are, we know someone who can.
Lisa Marino, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, PMCT, has taken her varied teaching experiences and applied them to helping owners understand and train their beloved four-legged family members. She has more than four years’ experience leading group dog training classes at Best Paw Forward in Hartland, WI, and opened Head of the Class Dog Training LLC in Winchester, VA in 2012, where she conducts group classes and private lessons, as well as helps owners to modify their dogs' problem behaviors.
Lisa earned her CPDT-KA in 2012, is a 2015 graduate of the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy and is a Pat Miller Certified Trainer.
She has 4 registered therapy dogs and is a Pet Partner Therapy Team Evaluator and a member of HOPE AACR. As a former middle school teacher, she works well with families and children and does school presentations on various dog related topics.