By Michelle Mullins
Many dogs like to dig; I know my Golden Retriever Artemis loves it!
Some breeds are more prone to be diggers than others but any dog might love to throw up some dirt. Digging can result in severe damage to landscaping and possibly underground pipes, wires, etc., escape from the yard and really dirty dogs.
Dogs dig for a variety of reasons.
- Breed – This can play a part with terriers and some hounds seemingly born to dig
- Escape – the dog may want to check out the world outside the fenced yard
- Burrowing – for bugs, rodents, etc. the dog may see, smell or hear
- Hiding Treasure – Some dogs like to bury their prized possessions like bone and toys
- Creating the perfect spot – Dogs may make a hole to stay cool or warm depending on the weather.
My Artemis seems to be the burrowing type. She listens to the ground and digs for whatever it is she is hearing, smelling, sensing under the dirt. It’s a problem but since I’m not much of a gardener and she never tries to escape I’m not too upset about it. That’s a pretty unusual take on extreme digging.
There are several things you can do manage and stop the digging. Limiting opportunities to dig and providing alternatives is your best way to deal with this behavior.
You can try deterring your dog from digging in certain areas by placing his feces in those spots or covering the area with tarps, boards, etc. Unless you provide other things to do and redirect your dog to appropriate behaviors he will probably just find another spot to dig.
Don’t leave your dog unsupervised in the yard, especially for long periods of time. Hanging around in the back yard with little or nothing to do is not a substitute for exercise or enrichment. The yard should be for elimination use, games of fetch and play with other appropriate outdoor toys, training and hanging out with you. If left to find ways to occupy himself your dog may discover the fun pastime of digging.
Instead of just letting your dog out in yard:
- Take your dog for a walk or run
- Visit a dog park – if your dog enjoys playing with other dogs
- Play fetch, frisbee, tug and other interactive games
- Give your dog some mental exercise and do some training. Practicing behaviors like sit, down and recalls along with new stuff like tricks is very enriching for your dog.
Artemis does get to do all the fun things above, but she will still take every opportunity to till the soil!
Consider providing an appropriate area or box filled with sand (sandboxes and kiddy pools are two options) for your dog to dig in and encourage him to dig there. Hiding favorite toys, pieces of dry food, etc. will entice him to dig in this area and you can praise and reward him when he does.
I let Artemis dig in the area she seems to love the most and I’m taking back the rest of the yard this weekend. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.