Why Dogs Dig And What Can Be Done To Prevent Or Change Such Behaviour
For some dog owners, their backyards might best be described as a miniature minefield. From a distance, the lawn appears to have been subjected to countless tiny underground explosions, but upon further inspection, it becomes evident that the property has been subjected to repeated episodes of dog digging – yes, the not-so-subtle behaviour of the family dog basically ripping up chunks of the lawn and the vegetable or flower gardens.
The dog owners may even have attempted several methods of punishing or scolding the dog after the fact, but these approaches seldom if ever stop the digging and can often make matters worse.
To curb such unwanted behaviour, it is important to first understand why a dog digs, then take the appropriate steps to redirect that digging behaviour to activities that are more positive (for the dog and the owner) and less destructive (to the owner’s property).
There are several reasons that a dog will engage in digging activities in the backyard:
- Entertainment – Due to boredom, perhaps from being left alone for long periods of time or from a lack of toys or other distractions in the yard
- Working Instinct – The breed may be a hunter or herder by nature and the dog is digging for burrowing-type animals or insects that may be present underground
- Comfort – Looking to make a cool/cooler spot to lie down in warmer weather
- Protection – Trying to create some shelter from inclement weather
- Escape – Digging under a fence to either get at something or away from something
- Attention – The dog is just trying to get some attention (to the dog, any type of response, even a scolding, is a form of attention)
Fundamentally, the most common reasons that a dog may be digging in the backyard can be related to: instinctive behaviour, defense mechanisms, and a lack of attention from its owner. Once these causes are understood, there are several remedies/actions that can be implemented to eliminate this negative/unwanted behaviour.
- Exercise – Walk the dog daily, preferably more than once per day
- Engaging in playtime activities – Fetching a ball, stick, or Frisbee
- Regular practice and reinforcement of basic dog obedience commands
- Providing outdoor toys – Kong products, squeaky items, rubber bones
- Blocking off openings and cover up gaps under fences
- Removing evidence of burrowing animals or insects
- Providing comfort if dog is left outside for long periods (water, shelter, shade)
- Repeated praise and reinforcement of positive behaviours
- Not reacting to negative behaviours
- Consider dog obedience training (regardless of the age of the dog)
If home remedies are unsuccessful, or if the dog owner does not have the time or the inclination to address any digging issues, dog obedience training from a professional training service such as Alpha Paws may be the best option for a positive resolution.
Get A Professional Assessment And Action Plan To Correct Dog Digging Issues
If your dog has been digging in the backyard and turning the property into a miniature minefield, it may be beneficial (and much less frustrating for you and your dog) to call upon the services of a dog obedience training professional. These dog trainers have extensive experience in addressing and resolving a wide range of behavioural issues, such as digging in the backyard, and are fully qualified to conduct the particular type of dog training classes to best rectify this situation.
At Alpha Paws, our trainers will implement a comprehensive training plan for your dog that includes:
- An in-home assessment to determine the root cause of the digging behaviour
- A recommended training program designed to resolve the behavioural issue(s)
- Scheduling these dog classes to align with owner lifestyle needs
- A series of at-home follow-up lessons for the dog-and-owner partnership
As well, all dog obedience training at Alpha Paws are conducted as private sessions, that is, one-on-one between your dog and the trainer only. Alpha Paws believes this is the most effective and successful approach, as it allows the dog and the trainer to fully focus on the training lesson without distraction from other dogs and/or other trainers.
If your dog is displaying the unwanted behaviour of digging in the backyard, call the obedience training professionals at Alpha Paws today at 905-830-9500 or 1-647-694-4584 to schedule an in-home assessment and develop the best method of training classes to effectively resolve this situation.