Many different dogs absolutely LOVE to dig. It’s shear unadulterated joy to throw dirt high in the air behind them with a singular purpose in their mind. But the destruction they leave behind, with holes dotting the yard, some deep enough to bury pirate treasure, can be frustrating. We love our dogs and our yards and would just like to look at both with satisfaction and pride. Humans forget that many breeds of dogs are genetically hunters and while small, adoring, and cuddly, have the genetic drive of a predator.
Lots of dogs go to the groomers these days, but there was a time when they served a purpose for mankind. Many breeds hunted vermin such as snakes, rats, rabbits, mice, moles, and even some root eating insects. They used their powerful forelimbs to dig out burrows and underground nests. They tore apart large fallen trees, could hear the high-pitched chirping of insects or the shrill vocalization of rodent families underground. These facts often never enter our minds as we’re getting ready for work and put the dog out in the back yard unsupervised. Sometimes we put the dog out to get some exercise. “Go run around outside” we tell them.
They may make about 3 rounds around the yard before their nose drops and their ears perk up to something underground. And then, to them at least, the real exercise begins! Digging under the porch, under the prize rose bush, under the shed. A noise or small whiff of odor is all it takes to reawaken that long forgotten instinct in your adorable pup, and they’re digging to China!
At this point you should stop. Take a Deep Breath…and scold yourself. The dog is only doing what it has done for nearly a century or more. If you have a digging dog, then you must take the time to train him AND provide an appropriate outlet for his natural self.
- You may want to rid your yard of underground rodents and root destructive insects. First, look for great referrals and results, and work closely with the extermination company aware of your pet, so he doesn’t get into any product not meant for him. Remember, every newly purchased plant/tree risks re-introduction of unwanted pests.
- You can make sure your fence is seated under the ground as much as 10 inches. This prevents your digging dog from accidentally escaping under the fence. Once this happens, it is unlikely they will forget, and this behavior can turn into a whole different problem.
- A good obedience training foundation goes a long way in keeping everyone happy. Dog obedience is a lifelong practice. Unless housed in a kennel run with a concrete floor, supervision while he is outside is a must. Especially while he is learning the rules of digging only where it is allowed. Physical exercise for your dog is another lifelong practice. Walks, fetch in the park, swimming, treadmills, playing with other doggy friends are great ways to get your friend out in the neighborhood and burn off some energy.
- Provide a large sand pile in one area of your yard. As big as you can. Hide toys in the pile every other day and let him know he is allowed to dig there. Bury old favorites and see how quickly he can pick up the scent and dig them out. Hide new squeaky toys so he can have fun making noise when he pulls them out.
When we recognize and celebrate the dogs own innate gifts and traits, we enjoy the companionship so much more.
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