Spring is in the air
The nice weather finally feels like it's here to stay and that means we're outside a lot more. The snow has melted, the birds are making nests and our dogs are helping out with the landscaping.
If you're like me, you love your dogs, but you don't always appreciate how they modify your backyard. Whether it's from boredom, to make a bed or just because they feel like it, your dog can decimate gardens, plants and overall just ruin the look of the yard you've worked so hard to maintain.
First of all, digging is instinctual. Just like barking, some breeds dig and others don't. That means stopping it entirely is next to impossible. Instead, you're going to want to redirect the behaviour to teach them that it's okay to dig, but only in a certain area.
To do this, burry some toys, treats, or whatever he or she likes in an area you designate as okay to dig. When they start to dig there, praise them and let them know they've done good. If you catch them digging in another area of the yard, fill the hole and redirect them to the digging area you'd like them to dig in.
Don't punish your dog for digging, they won't associate the punishment with what they are doing because they don't see digging as doing something wrong. Instead focus on redirecting and teaching them a new pattern of behaviour.
Reasons dogs dig
There are multiple reasons a dog might dig and each will have it's own solution. The Humane Society of the United States, lists a few main reasons a dog may dig:
Need for entertainment — if you leave your dog in the backyard for a long period of time, they may get bored and begin digging as a way to entertain themselves.
To fix this, give your dog regular exercise — two good walks a day should help. You can also enrol in a dog training class which will help to mentally stimulate your dog and keep them mentally occupied.
Hunting prey — if you've got some other friends from the animal kingdom making a home in your backyard, your dog may dig to try to get at them.
Contact someone in your area to humanely rid your property of your unwanted guests. This should help to stop your dog from digging to try to uncover those new playmates.
Seeking comfort or protection — most of the time when my dogs dig, it's because they want to create a hole to lay in. The dirt can make a cool bed on warmer days and I'm sure with their years of experience, they've learned how to dig the equivalent of a memory foam mattress out of dirt.
The solution here is to bring your dog indoors more often or provide them with a dog house so that they have an area to rest in that's comfortable. I let my dogs have one area that they can make into a bed, and that's it. Well, I try anyway.
Trying to escape — if your dog is digging around the fence, specifically at the bottom, they're more than likely trying to escape so that they can explore the world without you. Obviously this is very unsafe.
The best way to stop this is to bury chicken wire under the dirt so that your dog doesn't want to dig there any more. You can also place some large rocks in the way, or bury the fence one or two feet under the earth so they can't get out.
Breeds that dig
As I mentioned, some dogs are just bred to dig. Here's a small list of some common diggers and why they dig from DogTime.com:
Nordic dogs, such as Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes and Samoyeds will dig to keep themselves cool on hot days. They're also natural hunters and may dig to follow a scent they've found in the yard. If there was an award for being escape artists, these dogs would also be consistent nominees for the top prize.
Terriers are another group of diggers. They were bred to hunt underground animals like gophers and weasels. It's in their genes to dig. Once they've caught scent of something, they'll try to dig their way to get at it.
Shelties and Border Collies might dig out of boredom. These are smart dogs and they need to be kept entertained. Try filling a kong with treats or exercising them more regularly to prevent digging.
Remember that digging is just one aspect of a dog and it is somewhat preventable with the advice I've mentioned above. Don't say no to a breed just because they're on this list. You might miss out on the best friend you could have ever asked for.
Do you have a digger? What do you do to help keep your backyard looking good all summer long? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.