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  • April Schrader, CPDT-KA

Why Dogs Dig and How to Stop It: Best Practices for Managing the Behavior

Digging is a natural and instinctive behavior for dogs. It is a behavior that serves many purposes such as searching for prey, creating a comfortable sleeping spot, and regulating their body temperature. However, it can also be a destructive and frustrating habit for dog owners to deal with. In this blog, we will explore why dogs dig and what you can do to stop it.

Why do dogs dig?

There are many reasons why dogs dig. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  1. To bury things: Dogs have a natural instinct to bury things, such as bones, toys, or food. This behavior is a survival instinct from their wild ancestors who buried their food to keep it safe from other predators.

  2. To escape: If a dog is not getting enough exercise or mental stimulation, they may become bored and start digging to escape from their yard or confinement.

  3. To regulate body temperature: Dogs may dig a hole to cool down in hot weather or to stay warm in colder weather.

  4. To create a comfortable sleeping spot: Dogs may dig a hole to create a comfortable sleeping spot, especially if the ground is soft and cool.

  5. To search for prey: Dogs may dig to catch prey, such as moles, gophers, or rodents

What can you do to stop your dog from digging?

If your dog's digging is becoming a problem, there are several things you can do to stop it:

  1. Provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation: A tired and mentally stimulated dog is less likely to dig out of boredom.

  2. Designate a digging area: You can create a designated digging area in your yard where your dog is allowed to dig. This can be a sandbox or a specific section of your yard.

  3. Provide plenty of shade and water: If your dog is digging to regulate their body temperature, provide plenty of shade and water to keep them cool. Or bring them inside!

  4. Supervise your dog: Supervise your dog while they are outside and redirect their attention if you see them start to dig.

  5. Block off areas: If your dog is digging to escape, block off any areas where they may be able to dig under or through.

  6. Use positive reinforcement: Reward your dog when they are not digging and redirect their attention to a more appropriate behavior, such as playing fetch or chasing a flirt pole.

In conclusion, while digging is a natural and instinctive behavior for dogs, it can be managed and redirected through proper training and environmental adjustments. By understanding the reasons why dogs dig and implementing strategies such as providing exercise and mental stimulation, creating a designated digging area, and using positive reinforcement, you can prevent your dog from digging in unwanted areas. Remember, as a dog owner, it is our responsibility to provide our furry friends with a safe and stimulating environment that meets their physical and emotional needs.


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