Digging can be one of the most frustrating behaviours from our dogs that you, the avid gardener might experience. Firstly, we need to understand why our dogs dig to really understand out how we can solve the problem.
Why do our dogs dig?
Dogs are natural diggers. They use the behaviour of digging to make their lives more comfortable or more exciting. For example: some dogs dig to create a cool and comfortable spot to lie down in during the hot weather. So, this will make sense if your dog has multiple digging spots around the garden as the sun moves around creating shade in different parts of the garden. Some solutions to this problem are to provide your dog with a soft, cool and comfortable spot in the garden to lie on where it is always shady. Some dogs also love to dig for fun! This would be very difficult to stop your dog from doing as it is a naturally rewarding behaviour for them. The best solution would be to have a designated digging area for your pet. Place fencing around the areas in your garden that you would not like your pet to dig in. It is easier to teach your dog where to dig than where not to dig in certain areas.
Dogs also tend to dig if they are bored or lonely. This is very common to see in dogs that are left alone all day. Dogs are very intelligent creatures and need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. They tend to take out their frustration in destructive ways, like digging up your garden. The solution to this problem would be to spend more time with your pet, give your dog plenty to do while you are out for the day (toys, snuffle mats, rawhides). Take them for daily walks to get rid of the excess energy and tire them out. Walks are not only good for physical exercise it is also a great way to mentally tire your dog out. When they are sniffing different smells on their walk, they are activating their brain which makes them tired. It’s like us trying to do a very hard puzzle.
Dogs are also curious diggers. That means if they smell or hear something underground like a mole or an insect then they will want to investigate. This is very common in your terrier and hound breeds as they were bred to track scents and burrow after their prey. This is an instinctual behaviour that your dog is exhibiting and it not their fault. These types of breeds are also very high energy and need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. To solve this problem, you can monitor when your dog is curious digging, when they are digging say ‘NO’ and give them something else to do that is equally exciting. You would need to use positive reinforcement training to stop this type of digging. For curious diggers daily walks and mental stimulation would be the best solution to deal with this behaviour.
If you have a new puppy this is a perfect time to set them up for success and to teach them how to act appropriately when they are in the garden. Puppies are like children and need to be taught right from wrong right from the start. It is important to spend time with your puppy and using treats and positive reinforcement training to reward your puppy when they are acting appropriately in the garden.
INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY VETERINARY HOUSE HOSPITAL