Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?by Kimberly Caines
Understanding your dog's digging behavior is the first step to correcting it.
If Gromit has a digging fetish, your backyard might resemble a mine field or a piece of Swiss cheese. Although it might seem like a behavioral issue, your pet companion might not entirely be to blame, because digging is in his genes and goes back to his ancestors who dug holes to hide food or to form a den for their pups. To put a stop to your dog's potentially destructive behavior and to maintain the aesthetic value of your yard, you must first find out what's triggering his behavior.
Seeking Entertainment and Attention
A bored, neglected dog is prone to misbehave. Digging might be his way of getting your attention and releasing pent-up energy. Your furry friend will gladly accept any attention—even negative attention that includes scolding and punishment. To avoid this, spend quality time together and stimulate your dog mentally and physically. Walk him at least twice a day and play games, such as fetch and tug-of-war. A good variety of dog toys can keep him occupied while in the yard, and 10 minutes of obedience training per day can provide mental stimulation.
Seeking Protection and Comfort
Leaving Gromit in the yard during cold, hot, rainy or windy weather might trigger his digging behavior. Your clever companion resorts to digging a hole to seek shelter and protection from the elements. He might dig and lie in a hole near water sources or in shady areas provided by your house or tall trees. To avoid this, provide a doghouse that offers protection from the elements, and leave a sturdy water-filled bowl outside. Alternatively, shorten your dog's hair or place a water-filled kid's pool outside for your dog to wade in.
Escaping or Hunting
If you catch Gromit constantly digging along the fence, he might be trying to escape. A person, object or other animal on the other side of the fence might trigger his curiosity and urge him dig his way out of the yard. To discourage your pet's digging, install a fence that's buried at least a foot below the surface. For extra reinforcement, place large rocks or chicken wire on the ground along the bottom of the fence. When your dog discovers that there's no way to escape, he might stop digging. If you believe he's digging to catch rodents, contact an exterminator and inquire about dog-safe pest control measures.
Just For Fun
If your dog seems to just enjoy digging, and you don't mind the behavior, surprise him with digging pit so he has a designated area where he can have a ball. Border off an area of the yard with a low fence and fill it with sand. Shallowly hide different dog toys and treats in the sand to encourage your pet companion to dig. Whenever you catch Gromit digging in an off-limits area, redirect him to his digging pit. Over time he'll come to understand where he is allowed to dig, and your yard will stay intact.
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