Like all normal doggy behaviors, such as barking and chewing, digging can be seen in many (if not all) of our domestic dogs at some point or another. And like other canine species-specific traits, each of these characteristics can be more pronounced in some dogs than others; where one dog loves to chew, another loves to dig. However, these ‘hobbies’ are sometimes considered problematic in our human world. If your yard has more craters than the moon’s surface, then keep reading.
The initial step for dog guardians is to try to understand why their inquisitive canines are digging. For instance, is Fido trying to escape (and if so, why)? Is he bored? Or is he simply warm and trying to create a cooler spot to lie down comfortably?
Once inquisitive pet parents understand their dogs’ needs and wants, they then have an opportunity to decide whether to 1) provide access to “legal” digging areas or 2) completely redirect doggo to an alternate behavior. These management strategies help set everyone up for success.
Here are some specific examples of what you can do:
- Be cool: Ensure there are cool places for your dog to chill out, if that is his digging goal.
- Pet Parenting 101: Manage the environment to help prevent your dog from practicing behaviors you don’t want.
- Let dogs be dogs: If you suspect your inquisitive canine is bored, creating Fido’s very own digging pit can help focus his energy to specific allowable areas. Intentional digging pits provide enrichment and a place pups can bury their own treasures. Next thing you know, Fido will be too busy digging through his own treasure chest to care about digging in other areas! Trust me, if he has the urge to dig, providing the time and place for him to do it will make you all happy!
- Think outside the box: Consider taking your inquisitive canine to areas outside of your home where he or she would be allowed to dig.
- Gamify it: If offering a legal outlet for digging isn’t possible, it’s up to us to teach our puppies and dogs what we would prefer them to do instead of tearing up the garden. You can help redirect your dog’s digging energy into other activities by providing alternative types of mental and physical enrichment such as interactive food toys and games. For dogs who like to watch ‘gopher TV’ and dig for critters, scent games and scavenger hunts are excellent options.
However, if destructive digging is a result of your inquisitive canine not being able to cope with being left alone, then that’s a completely different scenario. This isolation distress needs to be addressed first, as the digging is more of a symptom and a stress signal. If you’re concerned that your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety, contact us for additional evaluation and guidance regarding certified separation anxiety services.
To sum up, as inquisitive pet guardians, when we dig deeper and look for the underlying need beneath a dog’s behavior, we can usually find solutions that are mutually beneficial to us and to our canine pals.
So, please stay inquisitive and continue to visit our Doggy Blog regularly for more real-world solutions to dog training challenges.