How to prevent a dog from digging? This is one of the most common questions asked by dog owners, and there are several myths about how to stop dogs from digging. You must realize that most of these ideas will not work in preventing your dog from continuing this behavior once he has started.
Why Does a Dog Dig?
Dogs who dig have an urge to see what is beneath the ground. If you can understand your dog’s reasoning for digging, you will be better able to help him out of this behavior. If your dog is digging to keep himself busy, it is best to encourage him to go on a walk, play with toys, or be left alone in another room.
Before we get into the details of how to stop a dog from digging, it’s also important that we address why dogs dig in the first place. Some common reasons for this behavior include:
- Dogs love to feel safe and secure – they may dig under fences or through walls if they think it will make them safer. Digging is often a sign of separation anxiety in dogs and can be a symptom of stress or fear.
- Dogs may dig when they’re bored or aren’t receiving enough exercise. If your dog is left alone in his yard for long periods, he may use digging as a way to occupy himself. Digging can also become an activity when you neglect to exercise your dog properly throughout the day. A tired dog with excess energy will often turn to dig.
- Pregnant female dogs may dig before giving birth, probably out of nesting instinct.
- Some breeds of dogs are more likely to dig than others, such as terriers.
What You Can Do To Stop a Dog From Digging
There are several ways you can prevent your dog from digging and stop him from continuing this behavior once he has started:
Don’t reinforce digging by giving the dog praise when he digs. When a dog acts on his instincts, it’s common for the owner to provide positive reinforcement in the form of a treat or verbal praise. This is not recommended in this instance, however, since it will only teach the dog that digging makes good things happen.
Keep your backyard free of items that could be dug up by accident. Some people may leave their gardening tools out when they go inside, and if the dog starts digging around them he may cut or injure himself.
Train your dog to dig in an acceptable location. If you want your dog to dig in one specific spot, train him with a command such as “dig” or “kennel.” When he digs in that area, give positive reinforcement with his favorite treat or activity. If this method doesn’t work after repeated attempts over several days, consider getting rid of the item that’s triggering the digging behavior instead.
For instance, if your dog always digs through underground cables, plant thorny plants near these cables so he’ll leave it alone. This will take some time before it works though, so be patient!
Dogproof your yard by removing temptation. A small kiddie pool in the middle of your yard can be a great way to prevent digging in the yard. Keep your dog engaged in other ways when he leaves his toys alone. Give him plenty of exercises when you’re at home so that by the time you go outside together, he’s ready for a break and some playtime in his favorite spot in the yard.
Bury rocks or prickly branches in your dog’s favorite digging locations, such as near an underground cable. This may also work to keep him away from these areas since he’ll feel pain when trying to dig through them.