Does your garden resemble a small moonscape? Find out why your dog digs in the garden and what you can do about it.
If your dog digs in the garden, it is usually due to an ancient instinct. For example, they sometimes look for hiding places for their toys or favorite bone to protect it from possible predators.
In bitches in heat or pregnant, on the other hand, digging is often due to the nest-building instinct.
Besides the instinctive digging behavior, there are also other causes.
Some dogs dig when it is too warm for them. Because thereby they fetch cool earth upward, which promises them something cooling.
If your dog prefers to dig holes under the fence or next to the garden gate, he may be trying to get out of the garden. This is due to hunting behavior, especially if there are animals in a pasture outside your property.
Or sexually mature, unneutered males smell a bitch in heat and therefore try to break out of the property.
Of course, there are also the so-called notorious diggers, who dig simply for fun and out of boredom. For example, the popular terrier breeds, whose behavior man used to take advantage of when hunting rodents.
After you get to the bottom of the cause, you can break the digging habit or prevent it with a little patience and training.
If your dog digs out of boredom, spend more time with him and exercise him in other ways. This way he will have less motivation to do his usual “gardening” later on.
If you catch your dog digging directly, make it clear to him with an expressive “No” that he should refrain from doing so.
If you don’t want to specifically stop the urge to dig holes, you could offer your dog a specific spot to dig.
This can be an empty bed or a small sandbox. Your dog will certainly be happy about this option and with a little training will leave the rest of the garden alone.
5 reasons why dogs dig and how to break them of it
Every dog owner dreads the day when the dog once again decides to dig up the garden. It may be the prize flower bed, or a patch of lawn – dogs don’t care.
Although many bad habits of dogs are very cute, this quirk can be a bit more destructive than others. So how can you keep your four-legged family members from turning your yard into a compost pile?
The best way is to first find out why your dog is digging. Luckily, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has researched this topic. Here are some explanations and tips:
- hunting instinct
Many types of dogs were originally bred to hunt and seek out prey. These include very popular breeds such as spaniels, Labradors and even poodles. And even if dogs are no longer working animals today, they still have hunting instincts and therefore dogs may start digging when looking for insects and small animals.
If your dog digs mainly in a certain spot, or they follow a certain pattern, this may be a sign that they are looking for prey. The HSUS advises looking for signs of burrowing animals and then using gentle methods, such as a fence, to keep them from entering the yard.
It is very important not to use poison. Not only is it cruel to the animals, but it is also dangerous to your dog.
On hot days, dogs may dig holes to protect themselves from the sun and heat. They may also want to protect themselves from rain.
When dogs dig near buildings, sheltered areas or water sources, they want to be safe. Therefore, you should provide them with adequate shelter, take them indoors when water is extreme, and make sure they always have enough water.
Many dogs dig because they are bored, or digging simply gives them pleasure. Some breeds, such as terriers, dig instinctively because that is what the breed was originally bred for.
Young dogs with a lot of energy may use digging to get rid of their energy. They may not have enough toys, exercise or other dogs to play with. Some dogs are left to their own devices for too long, creating their own entertainment. More intelligent working dogs like to use this to stimulate themselves when they haven’t had enough to do during the day.
To combat digging, dogs need more to do. So you should try activities where dogs can get rid of their excess energy, such as frequent walks or toys to catch. You can also keep your four-legged friends busy with chew toys and puzzles, or try to teach them tricks and commands to prevent boredom.
Some dogs know they shouldn’t dig, but they do it to get attention from people. If they feel alone and only dig when they are being watched, they may need more attention.
In this case, it would be wrong to punish the dog for its behavior. This is because it keeps attention and will reinforce the dog’s behavior. Instead, the dog should be praised for good behavior and care should be taken to spend more time with them.
What if they don’t stop?
If the dog doesn’t stop digging, you should make sure there is nothing in the house that the dog is afraid of. If he doesn’t stop, you should try to give him a part of the garden and teach him to dig only there. It is also a good idea to ask the vet or a behavior specialist.
Why does my dog dig holes?
A dog digs in the garden because it is part of its instinctive behavior. Terriers in particular love to dig in the ground, for example, to look for prey. You can’t really break your dog’s habit of digging, but you can prevent him from destroying your flower beds in the process.
You’ve put so much effort into gardening, then your four-legged friend comes along and the dog digs everything up again. That can be quite frustrating. Nevertheless, you should not scold him, because the behavior is innate to him and he does not mean any harm at all. What you can do instead, reveal the following tips.
Dog digs in the garden: Why does he do it?
When your dog digs, he usually acts instinctively. For example, animals bury important resources such as food in the garden or in the ground to hide them and protect them from potential thieves. For some dog breeds, such as terriers, digging is part of their hunting behavior, as they were originally bred to catch small animals underground. A pregnant bitch, on the other hand, lives out her nest-building instincts while digging. If your dog defaces the garden in summer, it may simply be too hot for him and he wants to cool down in the hole in the ground. Furthermore, it may also be that your dog digs because he is bored and is looking for something to do in the garden.
Distract dogs that like to dig instead of making them stop digging.
Since it is only conditionally because of education mistakes, if your dog digs, you can also only conditionally wean him off it. Only if your quadruped indulges in the “destructive rage” out of boredom in the garden, you can generally influence the behavior. Make sure that your pet is busy by taking him on sufficient walks, going to dog sports and dog school, and scheduling daily play sessions that challenge him physically and mentally. Then he may not stop digging completely, but the devastation will be kept in check.
You will please your dog if you assign him a digging corner in the garden where he can give free rein to his instincts. Do not let him play on the green unsupervised, so that you can intervene immediately as soon as he digs in the ground somewhere else. Immediately interrupt the undesirable behavior with the command “No” or a sharp “Fie” and lead him to the digging corner. If he starts digging there, praise him. Hide a few treats in the soil there from time to time to motivate your dog to dig only in this one corner of the garden.
Protect beds from dogs
Additionally, for safety, zones in the garden that you don’t want your dog to dig up can be protected. You can fence off flower and vegetable beds with a small fence and teach your four-legged friend not to step over the fence. Instead of bark mulch, the beds can be lined with pine cones – this looks pretty and your dog does not like to dig there because it feels uncomfortable on his paws.