So your dog likes to dig holes when he’s outside? There are a variety of reasons your dog might enjoy this destructive hobby. While this is natural behavior, how can you help him feel like himself without sacrificing your yard?
If you’ve ever wondered how to stop dogs from digging, you might want to read on.
We spoke to Jackie Marvel, a veterinary assistant at DodoVet, and Mikkel Becker, a canine behaviorist and lead animal trainer for Fear Free, to learn more about why dogs dig and how you can help him find a new activity (or redirect the behavior). ). a more suitable grave site).
How to stop dogs from digging
First, it’s important to understand why your dog is digging in the first place.
“Digging is a natural canine behavior,” Becker told The Dodo. “It’s an expression of who they are as a species, much like how cats naturally love to scratch. You are hardwired for it.”
And while instinctive behavior is a likely reason, it doesn’t stop there. According to Marvel, other reasons your dog might dig can include:
- Entertainment out of boredom or a way to burn extra energy
- An attempt to break free from a barrier
- Warns you of rodents or pests underground
- A search for cooler ground beneath the surface to cool off when it’s warm outside
Dogs also love to bury their treasures, although they don’t always remember where they hid them, says Becker. (OK, let’s be honest, this is totally adorable.)
So how can you help your pup find a new hobby that isn’t quite so messy? Marvel and Becker have some helpful ideas.
“First, make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation,” Marvel told The Dodo. “They may tell you they need more physical and mental exercise.”
Mental stimulation dog toys include:
- Sniff Mats – which can enhance his searching instincts in a less destructive way
- Puzzle toys – to keep his brain working while he’s hanging around the house
“A ‘nose work’ obedience class might not be a bad idea either, especially for dogs with higher prey drives,” Marvel said. “You will learn to tune into your instincts without destroying your garden.”
But the best idea how to stop dogs from digging? Create a designated dig site.
“The best way to discourage them from digging where they’re not supposed to is to give them an approved burial pit, filled with either sand or dirt,” suggested Becker. “Fill it with different treasures, like a buried food puzzle or a chew toy. Bury toys too. They will learn that the best treasures are in their dig pit, not in your flower garden. If necessary, you can also use a sandbox or a children’s pool.”
If you’re in an apartment without access to a backyard, don’t worry.
“You can create an indoor burrow in a large laundry basket or in the bathtub,” suggested Becker. “Use layers of blankets or torn cereal boxes [or] Packaging so they can hunt and root through anything with their paws.”
If your dog is still digging where it shouldn’t, Marvel says there are a few ways you can use positive reinforcement to redirect your dog:
- Do not leave your dog outside unattended. If that’s the case, make sure he has adequate protection from the environment – no matter the time of year.
- Do not fill holes with water. This might make holes more tempting.
- Don’t punish your pup after he’s been caught digging. Instead, redirect with an appropriate, quality toy and praise him for stopping the destructive behavior.
- Watch your dog for signs of digging, such as: B. Prolonged sniffing, and then call him to you, praise him with affection and treats when he leaves the area.
While it may take a little time for your pup to adjust to an approved digging area, the rest of your yard will thank you.
Do you want 24/7 access to a veterinarian? With DodoVet, you can connect via video chat, phone, or SMS with an empathetic veterinary expert who can help you be the best pet parent you can be. Say goodbye to Dr. Google and get answers to all your pet parenting questions anytime, anywhere. Learn more here.
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