It can be very hard to stop a natural and normal behaviour such as digging, especially in a young active dog. As it’s most undesirable to have pot holes and booby traps scattered around your backyard, it’s no surprise that this is a behaviour many a pet parent wants to stop!
So here are our tips:
- Give your dog an area that’s OK to dig in!
You choose where you’re happy to allow digging, whether it be a hidden, an unused part of the yard, or even an above ground area such as a Bunnings plastic clam shell filled with dirt or sand (side note: these are cheap and very useful, the other half can be a lid or can be filled with water on those hot days to help cool your pooch). Bury interesting things in the dig area for your mate to find, you can bury toys, air dried kangaroo tendons or other treats. Bury things daily for them to find.
If you are not restricting your dogs access to the outside and not supervising them, this will be a very hard behaviour for you to change. If you see your fur buddy heading toward their prior non approved digging areas, it is best to call them and show them the new digging spot- BEFORE they do the digging. This works much, much better than reacting when you catch them in the act. Reward them when they are digging where you want them to. It is important to supervise them until the digging in your preferred spot is well established.
- Deter digging where you don’t want it to occur!
You can fence off areas, and/or cover loose soil with large rocks or chicken wire.
- Enrich their lives.
Daily exercise. Put food in slow release devices e.g Kong cube, this gives them something to do whilst getting their reward (their meal!). Provide distraction with safe chew toys, treats, or filled Kongs. Rotate the toys that are given. Keeping them mentally and physically occupied leaves less time and desire for those unwanted behaviours.
- Positive reinforcement training.
It may not specifically address the digging but it gives you and your dog a way to communicate, and helps keep your pooch mentally stimulated.
Although digging is often a normal healthy play or exploratory behaviour, there can also be underlying issues such as separation anxiety or the desire to escape due to another anxiety. The latter cases require different and more intensive treatments than the tips above.