With nice spring weather not far away, many dogs will be spending more time in their backyards. What’s one of their favorite outdoor pastimes? Digging! Here are some ideas to help you and your dog agree on landscaping decisions.
First, some of the reasons dogs dig:
- To pursue animals like moles, chipmunks, gophers, and rabbits.
- To alleviate boredom.
- To stay cool.
- To bury special treasures.
- It’s in their genes—some breeds, particularly terriers and some hounds, are bred to hunt animals that live in the ground.
- To escape.
Digging is actually a good outlet for your dog’s energy, so if there is a suitable spot (preferably shady) in your yard for it, set up a designated digging area. This could become a favorite place for him to be while you hang out in the yard together. Help your dog get the idea by burying treats and toys for him to find in the designated digging area. Keep the soil moist (not muddy), so it is cooler and not dusty. You can also use a child’s plastic sandbox. If your dog likes to bury bones, he will hopefully choose this spot. If you catch your dog digging in the wrong place, get his attention and redirect him to the right place where you’ve hidden some treats.
If your dog is one who likes to bury treasures in a safe place and he doesn’t use the designated place, give him less valuable toys that he won’t think are worth stashing. Save the really high-value things for when he is indoors in his crate.
Spring is the time of year when wild animals get busy looking for food and making dens to raise their families, and this makes for irresistible digging temptation. Sometimes moles can be controlled by treating your lawn for grubs, which are moles’ food source. Follow directions carefully for the safety of your pets.
Some animals won’t come into the yard if they know a vigilant dog is around, but others don’t seem to mind the risk. Maybe you can make the designated digging area more tempting than a chipmunk hole, but if your dog is a terrier, it may be impossible to divert him. The only certain way to keep your dog from attempting to dig up these critters is constant supervision when in the yard.
Ideally, dogs should not be left outside all day while their owners are gone, even in a fenced yard. They are much safer indoors and less likely to become habitual diggers. If a dog gets anxious, he may dig under the fence to get out—then get lost or, worse, meet with a car. If there is no other option but to leave your dog outside, install a smaller kennel in the yard that is dig-proof, with buried fencing or concrete under the fence perimeter. Surround it with shrubs and trees so your dog feels safe there and cannot see (or be seen by) passersby. When you leave him there, provide long-lasting chew toys or food puzzle toys.
There are also products available that are supposed to deter dogs from digging. Some are effective, and some dogs aren’t bothered by them at all. If it rains, they must be reapplied. Closer supervision and good management are the best ways to curb digging. If special flower beds are in your dog’s domain, try putting a decorative fence around them. If you have amended the soil here with compost, it’s extra tempting.