How to Make the Dog Stop Ditching the Garden
Digging holes in the garden is a natural behavior and very common in dogs, some dogs feel a great need to dig while others just do if they were encouraged to do so. There are even some who never dig, and this is probably related more to the education received than to the natural behaviors of the species. The risk for dogs is usually less than in the case of dogs chewing things, but it is not nonexistent.
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Already there have been cases of dogs that were electrocuted by damaging electric cables while they were digging. Also there have been cases of dogs that have damaged water pipes when digging. Therefore, digging is not a behavior that can and should not be happily accepted in dogs. However, it is also not behavior that can be eliminated in many cases. Therefore, the solution to this problem is more for the management of the environment than for canine training.
Discover in this article from YourCatCareguide how to make the dog stop digging the garden .
Why do dogs crawl?
If your dog digs holes in the garden, it is because he is trying to meet his needs in some way. A severe stress or anxiety situation can lead you to minimize your malaise with intense physical activity or, in this case, digging in the garden.
There are several reasons why you can carry out this behavior, but to try to help it is crucial to identify the cause that causes you to do the holes:
- They keep things : it’s an instinctive behavior. The dogs hide the goods they like best under the earth, and for that they have to dig. However, dogs that live indoors and not in the garden can store their things under blankets, rugs or inside their suitcases or dog houses. They do not have to dig forever to “store” their favorite toys and food scraps.
This leads us to a discussion topic, “Where should dogs live?”. Discussing whether dogs should live indoors or in the garden is already a very old topic and has no answer. Each one decides where your dog should live. However, in my opinion, dogs are beings with whom we share our lives, not objects and therefore must live indoors,
- They look for cool places : especially in the summer, the dogs can dig holes to find a cooler place where they can lie down to rest. In this case, a comfortable, cool and comfortable little house for your dog can be a solution to help refresh it. Letting him rest indoors and not in the garden is another alternative. It is essential that dogs always have fresh and abundant water at their disposal to avoid a possible heat stroke .
- They look for a comfortable place : it is a case similar to the previous one, but in which the dog does not seek a more pleasant temperature, but a softer place to lie down. They move the earth so that the place where they go to bed is more comfortable. It usually occurs with dogs that live in the garden and have houses made of wood or other hard material without blankets or mats.
- They want to escape from a place : many dogs dig with the sole and simple intention of leaving. In some cases they are dogs that flee their homes to go out and out.
In other cases, they are dogs that are afraid of something. These dogs feel anxious when they are alone and try to escape from this place for protection. When the case is very serious, the dog may develop separation anxiety and in his attempt to flee he may try digging hard surfaces until he breaks his nails and gets injured.
- Because it’s fun : yes, many dogs dig just because it’s fun for them. Especially the dog breeds that were developed to chase tumbled animals, like the terriers, dig because yes. If you have a terrier and note that you like digging in the garden, do not waste your time trying to avoid this behavior, it’s part of your instinctive behavior. You can redirect this behavior, but do not eliminate it (at least without side effects).
- They chase animals : in some cases the owners of a dog think that they have a behavioral problem when in reality the dog is chasing animals that people did not detect. If your dog digs in the garden, make sure there are no live animals that can live there. It stands to reason that a dog of any race fits when it pursues an animal that hides underneath the earth.
- They suffer from behavioral problems : dogs are very sensitive animals, so it is essential to observe their emotional well-being if they observe that they dig and make holes in the garden. Aggression, stereotypy, or fear may indicate that something is not right.
Preventing Your Dog from Holes
Then we will propose you three different options that can help you to improve this situation. We suggest you try all three at the same time so you can watch a dog change if you offer him regular attention, warmth and toys:
If your dog is a compulsive digger and digs only once in a while or when left alone, the solution is relatively simple. Provide him with company and activities he can do. Many dogs dig because they are bored or sad, see for themselves how play and attention modifies their behavior in a positive way.
On the other hand, allowing your dog to start living indoors and spending more time inside than in the garden is a great option. It will greatly improve your quality of life, prevent debris in the garden and have a happy dog. When you go out into the garden, it will be important to accompany and supervise it, so you can distract it when your digging instincts begin to appear.
Finally, we suggest you use dog toys . Just as for dogs that gnaw on things, you can give your dog enough activity to forget to dig when he’s alone. Keep in mind that you should restrict the places where you are alone, at least until you are completely certain that you will not dig in your garden. Among all dog toys, we highly recommend using Kong , an intelligence toy that will help you to channel stress, motivate you intellectually and allow you to develop an activity that keeps you away from the garden.
Alternative for dogs that need to dig
If you have a terrier or other dog addicted to digging the garden , you should redirect your behavior. In these cases you will not be able to eliminate this behavior without creating other collateral problems, so the best you can do is to get your dog a place to dig and teach him to do it only in that place.
Teach a dog how to make holes in a specific place
The first step is to choose the place where your dog can dig and make holes without problem. The most sensible option is to go to the field or a garden area nearby. In that place, it will be delimited by an area of two by two (approximately and depending on the size of your dog). We advise you to first stir the soil to get loose. No problem if your dog helps you to move the earth, since this will be your hole to dig. However, you should make sure that the area is free of plants and roots so that your dog does not associate the activity of digging with spoil planting or can eat some of the toxic plants for puppies .
When the digging hole is ready, bury one or two of your puppy’s toys in it, letting a small part of them stand out. Then start encouraging your dog to dig them up. If you see that it does not work, you can try spreading ration through the zone to familiarize it with the place. When your dog unearths your toy, congratulate him and play with him. You can also use positive reinforcement with treats and snacks for puppies.
Repeat until you see your puppy dig more often in this place . At this point you will notice that digging in the digging hole has become a very appreciated activity for your dog because it does so even when there are no buried toys. However, from time to time you should leave some buried toys so your dog can find them when digging and his digging behavior is reinforced in the digging hole.
This can be done by keeping your dog from accessing the rest of the garden when he or she does not have supervision. So for a while you will have to put a physical separation in some places to avoid that your dog has access to any garden. You should only have access to the area in which the excavation hole is located.
Little by little, you will notice that your dog stops digging in other areas of the chosen area and only digs in the hole he has built for him. Then, gradually and over several days, increase the space to which you have access when you are alone. During this time, leave buried each day in the digging hole some toy that reinforces the behavior of your dog. You can also leave interactive toys full of food out of the digging hole so your dog can do other things than dig.
Over time, your dog will have the habit of digging only in its digging hole. You will have lost some garden but you will have saved the rest. Remember that this alternative is only for compulsive digger puppies. It is not for the dog that digs occasionally and can learn to learn to gnaw at his toys instead of digging.
A real case
A few years ago I met a Labrador dog that destroyed the garden. In addition to chewing the plants, he dug everywhere. The dog spent all day in the garden and chewed the plants at any time of the day, but only dug at night.
The owner did not know what to do because the dog was destroying everything. One day the dog had a head wound and to avoid infecting himself while he was being healed, they allowed him to sleep indoors for a week. During that time the dog did not do any damage in the house and, therefore, did not dig in the garden. Then they left the dog in the dog again long enough and the problem reappeared.
Why did he dig in the garden? Well, we could not know with absolute certainty the answer to this problem. But being a hunting dog, of a very active race and developed to spend a lot of time with company, it was left in the street all the time, with nothing to do, without toys and without company. You probably felt anxious to be alone or frustrated by not being able to access the things you wanted and eliminated that anxiety or frustration by digging.
It is a pity that although an immediate solution was found that did not require any effort to add (and did not cause any collateral problem), the owner decided that the dog would have to spend the rest of his life in the garden and not in the interior home with his human family.
Many times we ignore the options that present us to solve a problem of behavior of our dogs and, we are left to think because the dogs behave that way.
It is important to remember again that dogs are neither toys nor objects. They have their own emotions and act accordingly. They are dynamic, active animals that need physical and mental exercise, as well as the companionship of other beings.