Why do dogs usually dig?
According to Dr Jo, diggings is a natural caning behaviour, but some dogs – such as terriers – may be more inclined to dig than other breeds. “Digging is an individual behaviour in dogs,” says Jo. “Some do, some don’t, and they may dig because it’s fun, to find a cool spot in summer or warm spot in winter, to find roots and grubs, or if the dog is bored and needs an outlet for their energy, or they are anxious.”
However. Dr Jo suggests that sometimes out puppers think they’re helping us out. “Some dogs dig because you do (they are helping you garden!), or even to bury or uncover buried food or toys. In one case, a dog had buried socks, and when the owner dug up their garden they found 27 odd socks!”
Dr Jo says the key to preserving your garden is to work out why your dog is digging.
What can you do to stop a dog from digging?
In terms of defense measures, Dr Jo suggests fencing off precious areas of the garden, but if your dog is digging due instinctive behaviour, then your best best is to redirect the energy.
“You would be better off to satisfy their need to dig with appropriate digging opportunities, such as providing a designated digging spot like a sandpit,” says Dr Jo. “Use a different substrate (sand, in this case) to build an association with this material rather than your soil. Dig in toys or treats for your dog to find.”
“You could also take your dog to a dog-friendly beach and let them dig, as the tide will return the dug up spots to normal. Ensure you provide suitable warm or cool spots for your dog, and if your dog is bored or anxious, find solutions for these issues and the digging may reduce.”
Dr Jo’s top training tips
- Do not give the digging behaviour attention. Shouting at your dog while they are digging may actually encourage this behaviour. Instead, put up barriers to prevent digging and give your dog appropriate outlets for their energy.
- Reward non-digging behaviour.
- Provide appropriate digging places with hidden rewards such as treats, as this will encourage them to dig appropriately.
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