Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dog Digging Solutions

Different dogs dig for different reasons. The best way to troubleshoot digging is to try to identify what might be causing the behavior.

1) Some dogs dig to create their own spot to cool off in. This is a coping technique dogs have used throughout history... and it works! (take a look around your yard and make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water and a consistent shade source. Remember that shade moves during the day.)

2) Some dogs dig to mimic their human family members (limit your dog's view of any gardening activities so he doesn't feel the need to "help out with your digging project" while you're away.)

3) Some dogs dig to get out, escape, and roam. Even if your dog comes back, and does not get lost, dogs who run off can be attacked by other dogs, be hurt by abusive humans, be taken to animal control, or even get hit by cars (have your dog spayed or neutered, and/or consult with a contractor about creating a cement perimeter around your fencing. If spaying/neutering is not an option, your dog should be house trained, and then allow supervised outside play only.)

4) Some dogs dig to get at an underground critter like a mole (seek out an ecofriendly pest control specialist.)

5) Some dogs dig because their nails are too long (take them to a groomer.)

6) Some dogs dig because they're bored (give them a Busy-Brain Toy to occupy their time while you are away, or enroll them in doggie daycare.)

7) Some dogs dig because they aren't getting enough exercise (tire dogs out with lots of long, wonderful walks. Unless specified by a vet for special medical reasons, all dogs big, small, young, and old, usually really need two walks a day. Anything less than one walk a day I would consider cruel. Dogs who don't go for walks on a regular basis can get really nutty. If you don't have the time yourself, consider hiring a dog walker.)

8) Some dogs dig because they feel isolated and want your attention (because dogs are pack animals, it's unkind to exclude dogs from the rest of the family for long periods of time. Be sure they get lots of positive time with the family, preferably both outside and inside your home. Doggie daycare is also an option for superbusy families.)

(9) Some dogs dig because it's in their blood! Some breeds were bred (for instance, terriers) specifically to hunt for burrowing/underground animals. Even if they've never been taught by you to do so, they will have a genetic urge to dig! Some dogs will dig regardless of their breed because... it's just FUN to dig! (in both of these cases, the easiest remedy is to give your dog a special digging spot /sandbox type space. Clearly delineate the boundaries and encourage your dog to dig just there by using praise and hiding toys filled with yummy treasure treats! For detailed directions, see my Creative Puppy-Proof Garden Tips post.)

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