Posted by Margaret Mobley on 5/26/2017
Tips for getting your dog to stop digging up your yard…
Little kids at the beach (and some adults) love to dig and so do dogs in your yard, because it is their instinct. There are several reasons that your dog may be digging up your yard, or even hiding things inside your home. When you can understand the reasons for your dog’s digging behavior, then training them to stop becomes easier for both of you.
Why dogs dig
While instinct plays a part in a canine’s desire to get their paws dirty, boredom seems to be the biggest cause of this habit. When your dog is left alone for long periods, like while you are at work, or when you go out during the evening, they will resort to what they know best and that is digging around for something to entertain them! BE sure to leave the house with a toy or two, a chew bone or some other favorite object they like to cuddle. Training your pup to sit and stay is a must when you “charge” them as you leave them alone.
Another reason to distract your doggie from their digging habit is when they are outdoors, they may dig to hide things, like a bone or toy. They may also be too hot and want to dig a cool place in the dirt to settle into and lower their body temperature. Plus, the need to work off energy will lead them to use their paws to dig things (like your pretty plants) out of the ground.
According to the American Kennel Club, Terriers are the most likely breeds to seek out reasons to dig because it is their strong instinct. However, those of us with other breeds, like Labrador Retrievers, know that the puppy instinct to dig needs to be corrected as early as possible!
Tips to stop doggie digging
When boredom is the culprit in your fur baby’s mind, plan periods of entertainment such as playing toss, catch, fetch and retrieve with a chew toy in the yard, or a soft toy in the house. Take your dog on a long walk each day. These walks will encourage them to look forward to that time of day, as well as keep their bodies toned and healthy for the long haul. Our 15-year-old golden Lab mix still walks with his dad one mile every morning and lets us know if we are running just a little late! Take time to train your dog to do not only the basic commands, Sit, Stay, Down, Come and Heel, but also tricks like roll over, beg, high-five and others you can find online.
If lack of Exercise is causing your dog to act out either indoors or out, add even more exercise to their routine. Take walks and play with them in the yard using a ball, toss, pull, tug or frisbee toy. Some breeds need more exercise time than others, so check with the AKC.org website and/or your veterinarian to get the exact recommendations for your pup, adult or mature dog’s physical needs.
Loneliness is associated with boredom for all dogs that have been socialized, trained and adopted! Of course, they are lonely when they are living in a shelter or breeding kennel, but you buy or adopt a dog for companionship on both of your behalf. So, when you must go off and leave your precious fur buddy alone, please be sure they are trained to behave within your home or yard; that they have toy or chew bone distractions and a comfortable bed or kennel where they like to go for sanctuary!
When all else fails, and your time with your pooch is limited, here are a few ideas from AKC and Cesar
to make up for lost time.
- Cesar Milan says that taking your dog for a walk wearing a backpack that has stuff in the pockets on a 30 minute walk, equals a 1 hour walk to the park and back.
- Place your dog in the yard with another dog friend so they can entertain each other.
- Dr. Mary Burch of the American Kennel Club recommends building a literal “sandbox” or a place in your yard to train your dog to dig. If they know they have a designated digging spot, they can dig, hide, bury and exercise at their own pace!
- In hot weather, when you leave your dog outdoors, have a play pool of water, like used for children to splash around, so your furry pal has a cool place to lie down. Better yet, designate a climate controlled indoor spot your dog can access to escape the heat.
You are not alone! All of us with medium to larger dogs have experienced the dog digging issue. Your time spent in training, exercising, entertaining and providing alternative distractions for your dog is well worth the results you will see!
Doggie Diva would like to thank the following resources:
Shiloh tells how he got in trouble for digging in the yard and how he learns other bad habits from a neighbor dog friend!