Why Is My Dog Obsessed With Digging in One Spot?

by Quentin Coleman
    Terrier breeds are particularly fond of digging.

    Terrier breeds are particularly fond of digging.

    Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

    Your dog's obsessive digging habit can be frustrating. It might be a mystery, but it doesn't have to be for long; a few simple circumstances cause your dog to go spelunking through your yard. You can discourage this aggravating activity if you figure out why he's doing it.

    Dogs are predatory carnivores, so they have an innate desire to chase the local wildlife. If your pet sees a rabbit or mole disappear down a hole, it's safe to a assume he'll dig to chase after it. Take a close look around your dog's holes for small rodent burrows. Use a shovel to make clean cuts in the soil around the hole's edge and bottom in case your dog covered the tunnel entrance while digging. Block up holes or contact a pest control professional to resolve the situation. You can also simply restrict your dog's access to the yard so he can't reach the burrow.

    The tantalizing smells, sights and sounds of the world beyond his enclosure may prompt your pet to dig his way to freedom. While some dogs pick different areas each time, many attempt to tunnel out in a particular spot each time. Gaps between or under the fence where your dog can see outside his enclosure are particularly tempting. Installing wire beneath your stockade or extending the fence several feet into the ground should curb this behavior, according to Dog Training Central.

    Some dogs dig holes out of sheer boredom or to get their owners' attention. Others do it because they enjoy the smell and physical sensation of digging. It's a normal canine activity -- specifically bred into terriers -- so your pup may dig simply out of instinct when he's stressed or excited. It's also possible he's trying to escape the heat. If your pup loves to hide his bones, he may try to bury them in the yard and retrieve them at a later date.

    The solution to your pet's digging problem depends on his motivation. Provide him a shaded area to lay in during the summer, and don't leave him out for long. Give him vigorous exercise each day so he doesn't feel the need to expend pent-up energy on backyard excavations. Discourage him from digging at certain sites by installing a square piece of chicken wire a few inches under the soil's surface in your dog's favorite digging spots.

    Even though digging is a natural activity for your dog to pursue, means exist to stop him from doing it. You can train your pup to limit his digging to a certain area or persuade him to give it up altogether through training. Reprimand him firmly and give him a short blast with the hose when you catch him digging in a bad spot. You can use other disciplinary methods that work for you just as easily, but don't use pain or violence to discipline him. Give plenty of positive reinforcement when your dog obeys your command to stop or when he digs in his designated spot.

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    About the Author

    Quentin Coleman has written for several news publications as well as the University of Delaware's public relations department. He also spent more than 10 years working with a local animal shelter to help nurse kittens, treat sick cats and domesticate feral animals. Coleman graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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