Frustrations with digging obsessed dogs range from simple annoyances for people through to escapist artists that dig their way out of backyards and are at risk of endangering themselves.
Digging can be part of normal behaviour by dogs. It can also be a symptom of other underlying issues. Identifying the cause of the digging is the key to addressing the behaviour.
Why do dogs dig?
If you’ve got a digging dog in your family, you’ll no doubt have your own to add to this list below, but, some common reasons can include:
- Too much energy and excitement directed at the wrong things
- Finding somewhere cool to rest
- Prey drive behaviour to find small animals
- Hide food for later
Ways to reduce digging behaviour in your dog
If the digging behaviour is unwanted or puts your dog, property, or others’ in danger, you’ll want to take active steps to try to reduce this.
- Figuring out when and where this happens and restricting unsupervised access to those areas
- If trying to keep cool, provide access to other shade/indoor areas, small dog pools, cooling mats, etc
- Redirecting attention away from digging by engaging in a friendly play session as soon as they start to dig
- Simply getting more exercise is often overlooked. Go for an extra walk or play fetch some more.
- Provide more chew toys or other interactive dog toys.
- If treats or chews are being buried, consider providing these only for specified periods of time and then removing them if not finished.
- Are there underlying emotional issues? Calming supplements, additional training, extra socialisation and stimulation are a few things to tick off the list at first. Still, it can also warrant a trip to the vet to discuss.
- Using physical deterrents like fencing or rocks over softer dirt areas
Some breeds naturally like to dig more than others. Terriers, hounds and high-energy dogs like collies, cattle dogs and huskies can enjoy digging much more than other breeds. In many cases, for a determined digger, you’ll need to combine multiple strategies to help reduce the number of holes in the yard.
Managing dog behaviour isn’t about the total removal of innate behaviour. Rather, it is about finding compromises that can work for both of you, so there is less stress living together and having a happier life.
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