Monday, February 28, 2011


Why do dogs dig? 

Digging is instinctual for dogs. They dig to hide bones, to follow the scent of a burrowing animal, to escape from a yard to find a mate, to find relief on a hot day in the cool earth and possibly because they can and because it's fun.

Digging can also be a reaction. A dog that is left outside alone for a long period of time can become bored, frustrated and lonely, afraid or anxious and might dig to help alleviate those feelings.

As with anything, knowledge is power. And while you may not be able to completely stop your dog's instinct to dig, you can most certainly lessen it.

Most importantly, have your dog neutered or spayed. This will curb their desire to roam and will also help with the overpopulation problem we face today. Do not leave your dog unsupervised for long periods of time in the backyard. Dogs are social animals and it's natural for them to want to be where you are. Always provide some form of shade and access to fresh drinking water all summer. And spend time every day playing or training your dog to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. All of these things should lessen your dog's need to dig.

That being said, some dog's urges to dig can still be stronger than others. If this is the case, designate an area of your yard where your dog is allowed to dig. Bury some treats, bones or outdoor toys to make that area more enticing. If you catch your dog digging somewhere else, interrupt with a firm "NO" or "STOP" and calmly bring him to the area you designated. Be sure to praise when he digs in the appropriate place. Never yell or punish your dog, especially if you find evidence of digging after the fact.

We can allow dogs to follow their natural instincts and still set rules for them at the same time. The result is a happier dog and human.

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