What Do You Dog About Dogs That Love To Dig?
Today I wanted to tackle a question I get often....what do you do about dogs who love to dig?
Here is the skinny, digging is an ingrained "thing" in dogs, they love to bury their bones and dig them up again. They dig holes in the summer to lay in to keep cool, and do the same in the winter to stay warm. They hear a critter scurrying along an underground tunnel and have to "help" by digging them out. They dig when they are bored, they dig to escape the yard and really they just dig for fun.
Honestly, we can't win....or can we? Keep reading.....
Here is the problem, dogs just don't see the problem as we do. To them it isn't a problem, it is perfectly normal behavior. PLUS if you have a breed that was bred to dig like a terrier (which we have had for years) it magnifies the problem ten-fold!
The bottom line, it is useless to try and actually stop the behavior. At this point, some of you are saying to yourselves, "You are the dog trainer, why can't you stop it?"
Honestly, digging can be a huge outlet for dogs (especially those terriers), management is the best form of action.
So what does management mean?
That entails creating a space that is appropriate for them to dig and ensuring that they are set up to make the right choices when you are home and when you are away. This may take a little work, but it does pay off. Remember, dogs don't see this as an issue....only we do.
Here are the rules:
When gone, keep your dog inside. Seems like a no-brainer, but some will say that their dogs will tear up the house. Don't lose hope, there are solutions to this. Stay tuned, next week I will dive into destructive chewing issues...if you are not yet part of our Training Tribe, make sure you join in so you don't miss it!
When outside, supervise your dog the best you can.
Redirect the digging.
Let's talk more about the redirect. There are a couple of solutions to this one.
TEACH THEM TO CHEW
Encouraging them to chew on a bone to get their energy out is a great option, though it does not replace the need to supervise them when outside. Bone chewing is a great indoor activity and should be done along with constructive outdoor exercise such as playing fetch or going on a walk/run/hike. A tired dog is a good dog.
GIVE THEM AN AREA THEY CAN DIG
I know that sounds crazy, but wouldn't you rather control it, than have them tear up the entire yard?
A great option is to build a digging box or pit, think of it like a child's sandbox. This can be done right into the ground with sides, or you can purchase a little kids plastic wading pool at your local store.
Once you have the spot prepped and ready, purchase a nice enticing beef femur bone to bury in the box. I would also add in some of their other toys that they are familiar with, as this helps with adding their scent to the area. Bury them all, then show your dog the area, and help them discover the fun.
Think of it like the gold rush...once gold was found, people flocked to the area to find more. Your dog will do the same.
Just remember, you will have to keep replacing the items (no, not buying new...just get the old and bury them back again) so that the hunt can continue.
Want to dig deeper (pun intended) on how to provide the ultimate digging spot for your dog?
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It is important to mention that you should also take action to protect the rest of your yard. Be it with adding in chicken wire to keep them out of the planters and/or use additional boundary fences to keep them off of the areas that you do not want them.
Keep in mind the fences are a visual reminder for your dog to stay off, they do not have to be built like Fort Knox, in the perfect world they are temporary until you get things under control.
As always, I hope that these tips and tricks help you have the dog of your dreams. Makes sure to check back next week when I tackle the question about destructive chewing.
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