Certain dog breeds, like terriers and dachshunds, were originally bred to dig in order to go after vermin in farmer’s fields. Therefore, these types of dogs are born diggers. Other types of dogs may dig due to boredom, in order to keep cool in summer, or they are seeking prey, such as mice or insects.
If you don’t want your dog digging up every square inch of your back yard, there are several things you can do to alleviate the situation.
If you’re dog is seeking comfort from the heat, bring it inside more often; make sure the outdoor shelter is comfortable, and that your pup has plenty of access water. If your dog is still digging, try setting aside a special area where such behavior is okay.
If you believe your dog is bored, spend more time with your furry friend. Play fetch in the yard; go for an extra walk; have more cuddle-time on the couch (dogs, TVs, and couches go well together!); provide interactive toys inside and outside the house; teach your dog new commands or tricks and spend about 10 minutes each day in training; set up an agility course in the yard or join an agility club – any of these or a combination of such activities are great ways to provide extra entertainment for your pet as well as added time with you.
If you think your dog is digging to go after “prey,” the Humane Society of the United States suggests: “Search for signs of burrowing animals, then use safe, humane methods to fence them out, exclude them or make your, yard or garden unattractive to them.” However, “Don't use any product or method that could be toxic or dangerous to your pets or other animals. Anything that poisons wildlife can poison your dog, too.”
Dogs also dig for other reasons, such as trying to escape the yard (perhaps your dog is afraid of something, like as a neighbor dog that barks and growls from across the fence, or someone has been teasing and harassing your dog from the alley), or your intact dog is trying to get out of the yard to search for a mate, or your dog may be burying treats and food Trying to understand the “why” of digging can help you address the behavior and work on changing it as needed.
Also keep in mind, many cats also enjoy digging in dirt.
For more information on why dogs dig and how to take charge of the issue, visit these websites:
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.