A fondness for digging is a trait that is usually associated with animals like gophers and groundhogs. Many first-time dog owners, however, are often surprised to learn that dogs also like to dig. Consequently, it is not uncommon for these pets to turn front and back yards into disaster zones. While canines do have a tendency to carve holes into the ground, taking certain steps can make them less likely to engage in such troublesome behavior.
Why Dogs Like Digging
A dog’s digging problem can be attributed to a number of factors. If your dog has torn up your lawn beyond recognition, one of the following reasons might explain why.
Looking for Shade (or Warmth) ‒ Weather can provide the impetus for a dog to start digging. If a dog is stuck outside on a fairly hot day, he or she may dig a hole as a way of getting relief from the heat. Conversely, dogs also create holes to insulate themselves from the chill of wintry temperatures.
A Way to Stave off Boredom ‒ Dogs need entertainment, and it they don’t get enough of it from their owners, they might try to alleviate their boredom by bulldozing the ground. Puppies are especially rambunctious, and require outlets to burn off their energy reserves.
It’s In the Genes ‒ Some breeds have a stronger urge to dig than others. Huskies, Terriers and Border Collies all have well-deserved reputations as lawn destroyers.
Hiding Treasures ‒ Virtually everyone is familiar with the notion of dogs burying bones. In fact, dogs don’t stop at hiding bones in dirt, but will also submerge toys, food and prey in the earth’s soil.
On The Hunt ‒ Dogs are not commonly thought of as predatory creatures, but this label makes sense once you remember that domesticated canines evolved from wolves. Many dog breeds have maintained this urge to hunt throughout the centuries, and will pursue their prey deep into the ground (insects and rodents are common targets).
Anxiety Issues ‒ Many of our four-legged companions experience separation anxiety while their owners are away. In short, dogs with this condition can’t bear not being with their guardian, to the point that they engage in highly undesirable behaviors. One such behavior is digging; a dog may tunnel under a fence to escape their home and seek out their owner.
What Owners Can Do
Though digging is a common problem among household dogs, the good news is that dogs can be trained to resist this destructive impulse. Of course, the methods used to achieve this goal hinge on the root causes behind a dog’s digging habit.
Dogs that dig in search of physical comfort can be provided with certain products that make digging unnecessary. For example, insulated dog houses can shield canines from uncomfortably cold and hot weather, while wading pools give dogs an easy way to cool off in the muggy summer months. Other options for warmer temperatures include fans and elevated beds, which promote cooling by letting air flow underneath resting dogs. If chilly weather conditions are causing your dog to destroy the backyard, you might consider putting pet additional blankets or a burrow bed in his or her doghouse. Burrow beds offer a covered space for dogs to rest.
Regular walks are very useful for keeping bored dogs in line. A good approach is to aim for two daily treks around the neighborhood. Owners can also vent their dogs’ pent up energy by having them chase after flying discs or tennis balls. If you have to leave the house for long periods of time, scattering doggie toys around the yard offers a dog plenty of alternatives to making hole after hole.
There are also ways to keep dogs from using the ground as their own personal storage vault. For one thing, a dog can’t bury prized possessions if it has no such items to hide. While you might have trouble saying “no” to your pet’s pleas, only hand your dog food and edible treats that it will consume on the spot. It bears mentioning that putting a cap on handouts may not fully quell your dog’s urge to dig. Some owners have had success with designing a certain area of their yard as a “digging pit,” a place where a dog is allowed to dig to its heart’s content.
On the surface, it may seem as if nothing can be done to spare a yard from the ravages of a dog on the hunt. In fact, certain products have a good track record of keeping unwanted guests at bay, thereby limiting the amount of dog prey surrounding the home. Gopher baskets, animal-proof trash containers and L-shaped fences are just three of the many options available to owners. Invaders that avoid these defenses can still be caught with live traps, and subsequently released in a humane manner.