Have you noticed lately that your dog treats your backyard as his personal earthmoving project? I mean, all dogs enjoy their excavation trips from time to time, but this just seems too much. Before we begin explaining how to stop your dog from digging, you must realize that this is a very natural and instinctive behavior, so don’t be too harsh on them.
Dogs dig in dirt, sand or mulch when they want to bury items and save them for later. These items include toys, bones, favorite treats, and similar chewable and playable things. They also dig when they search for things buried in the past or look for prey like rodents or insects they can feast on. Yes, your dogs eat insects! Anxiety plays a big role in dogs with ‘digging attack’. This is a form of escaping from the situation which really calms them down.
While our blog’s mascot is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, this applies to any breed.
Stopping Your Dog from Digging
There are a few things you can do if your dog is a major digger. First of all, you supervise the dog’s behavior very carefully.
Whenever he starts to dig your job is to distract him as soon as possible. You can either clap your hands or blow a loud whistle. Some owners use empty soda cans filled with rocks or coins and shake them for the purpose. Remember, you only need to distract the pooch and break his concentration and not frighten him.
More Playtime, Exercise, Toys, and Chews
Now, once you have his attention it’s time to redirect him in doing something different and fun. You can offer a game of ball, frisbee, go-find-it, whatever the furball prefers. Tossing treats around for the dog to sniff and find will contain his attention from digging long enough.
When the digging is due to boredom or excess energy you really need to offer the dog something really fun. Dogs love working for their food. A good option is to give them food puzzle toys that provide a quality mental and physical outlet for them. If you use food puzzle toys don’t let the problem with digging turn into obesity problem.
Leave it Command
Depending on how well your dog reacts to commands, a simple ‘leave it’ would be enough. This can be gradually taught by rewarding the dog every time he ignores or walks away from an undesired item.
Maintain an Area for Acceptable Digging and Discourage Digging in Unwanted Areas
Maybe the owners don’t want to suppress what is considered a natural canine behavior. One method is to control where the dog is allowed to dig. You can spare an area of your own yard and mark it as a ‘free-dig-area’. You can mark it with low plant borders, small flags, fences, etc, as long as they are safe for the dog. Make the area interesting by adding different substrates (ex play sand) and by hiding fun and safe items inside. Whenever the dog starts digging in the proper area shower him with praises and rewards and when he wanders off to prohibited areas disrupt his attention and point him in the right direction.