You probably did the same thing as a young child – though your digging was probably done at the beach or in a sandbox, digging like an architect trying to find Pompeii. Do you remember how much fun that was? (Probably not, you were probably too young). While dogs aren’t digging for the ruins of an ancient Greek city, they most certainly can dig for fun. And while it may be fun, it also can be destructive to your property or the property of others, and that is most certainly not OK.
If you want to stop your dog from digging, follow some of these steps. Ultimately, you need to become acquainted with your dog’s personality and learn how to manage those aspects of their personality. Why do dogs dig, then? And how can you stop them?
One of the most common reasons for dogs to dig is to hunt for prey. Small dog breeds like terriers, dachshunds and hounds were born and bred to hunt small game. For these breeds, digging is an instinctive thing – if they spot a mouse or other small game going down their burrow, they’re likely to give chase and begin to dig. If you have a breed that you know was bred for hunting, one of the best things you can do is to keep them on a leash during walks in the country. This way, they are less likely to give chase to possible prey and dig into their burrows.
This technique of catching food or toys to come back for them later is a throwback to their wolf ancestors. They bury their food or toys and rely on their noses to guide them to it at a later date. They can also do this if they’re bored of the toy, or if they fear it may be “stolen”. If your dog is prone to burying their food or toys in the garden and it’s tearing up your lawn, one of the things you can try is to keep them indoors when they’re chewing on a bone, or only bring their toys when you take them for a walk in a public space.
One of the less obvious reasons why a dog might dig is to cool down during the summer months. We asked the team at The Vets about this and they explained that the ground is likely to be very hot for your dog during the summer, so they may start to dig down a few inches to reveal cooler spaces for them to lay. You can mitigate this by keeping your dog cool by giving them plenty of water, dousing them with the cold water from the garden hose.
Another important consideration is how well your dog is groomed. If you notice that your dog is digging a lot – it is very important to keep them well-groomed. Make sure that you pay a visit to your dog groomer (or learn how to groom them yourself) to keep their coat thin during summer and their nails trimmed so that if they dig, they don’t hurt themselves by damaging a paw nail.
Putting down citrus scents
One of the best inhibitors for any negative behaviour that your dog exhibits is citrusy fruits like lemons – the sharp smell of the lemon really turns your dog off from whatever it is. If you find that your dog is getting into the garbage, try drizzling the bin or the contents of the garbage with lemon juice. Equally, if you find that your dog likes to dig in a certain spot, try placing lemon peels or drizzling lemon juice over that area. The citrusy smell will really turn your dog off digging up the earth.
Exercise your dog more often
The main reason for doggy digging is (often) boredom. More frequent walks and playtime outside can abate this boredom. This will tire your dog out, so they won’t have the energy to be digging up the lawn.
Digging for your dog is natural, as annoying as it may be. You can try and stop your dog from digging, though at some point, you may decide that you may as well put up with it, as they’re not responding to admonishment and deterrents. If you know that your dog is a digger, you can try having a designated ‘digging’ area, and fence them in that area and let them dig to their heart’s content.