Why is my dog digging up my yard?

February 18, 2021
Why is my dog digging up my yard?

Why is my dog digging up my yard?

Originally posted on www.demaindemaitre.ca and written by Myriam Laferrière

Your dog has started digging in the garden, but, who cares? Snow is everywhere andt here’s no harm in it. But the longer you wait to control the situation, the worse your dog’s digging behaviour can get.

Perhaps you have started planting seedlings in preparation for your garden this summer.Once you’ve planted your last petunia, it is then that your dog decides to“help” you out by digging up the yard and ruining all your hard work.

No matter the time of year, a digging dog can wreak havoc on your property.

So, why is your dog digging holes?

Before we get angry and yell, it's important to fully understand why our furry friends are so inclined to turn our garden into a mess. Here are some reasons your dog digs the ground:

Digging is a natural behaviour: 

This is the simplest explanation that we can sometimes forget, but the act of digging is a very innate behaviour in many of our dogs.

Their ancestors had to dig to make “a bed” that did not have rocks or insects and was cool or to hide resources they would need later.

Your dog may dig because he is bored and needs to move:

Dogs have one thing in common with our children: if we don't keep them busy enough, they'll take care of themselves! And it's a safe bet that we won't like what they find to occupy themselves with. Your dog can therefore dig because he is bored and needs to expend his energy. The fact of digging, therefore, brings him a lot of pleasure, allows him to let off steam, to find branches with which to have fun, to find insects and even to smell new smells.

Your dog may dig for attention:

It's important to understand that dogs do what works! If Pitou has already dug once for some reason and you "quibbled" him, he is able to make the following association: When I dig, I have the attention of my favorite person in the world! Any form of attention whether positive or negative is still attention.

Finally, it may be that the digging is related to a behavioural disorder in your dog .

It may just be that your dog is very stressed and digging for calm.

If Fido digs into a situation that stresses him out (the arrival of another dog, for example), it is most likely because he is using this method to get rid of a certain discomfort.

Your dog may also be anxious to be left alone in the yard. In this case, you will be able to observe that it digs frantically at the exit points of the garden to try to get out, only when it is left alone. This should be a red flag that signals your dog may be having separation anxiety.

5 tips and solutions for dogs and puppies digging in the garden

# 1 Environmental management: install a fence

The more a dog has the chance to practice a behaviour, in this case digging, the more he will do it. The first step is to prevent our companion from being able to dig in the wrong places. For example, if your dog has a tendency to dig in flower beds, it might be worth putting some fencing around. In another case, if your dog likes to dig in the same place, you can put a rock on top. These facilities don't necessarily have to be permanent, but they will be a good time management tool to teach the dog to adopt other behaviours.

# 2 meet your dog's needs

As we saw above, your dog may dig to meet his energy expenditure needs. It is, therefore, important to meet his needs BEFORE letting him go in the yard:

  • Go for walks with your dog letting him smell all the way.
  • Offer bones or chew toys to give your dog chewing and mental activities . These activities can be offered to him directly outside in order to occupy him with something else.
  • Improvise play sessions with other sociable dogs ,
  • Play ball, frisbee or tug of war with your dog

We all know the expression: Happy dog, happy life  !

# 3 Allow a specific place where your dog can turn the earth ashe pleases

Digging has many benefits for your dog. It is a relaxing activity, which makes him expend energy by being active and using his sense of smell. The digging is not all negative, IF it is done in the right place (not on our flowerbeds).

You can set up a sandbox or box of earth where your dog will be allowed to dig. You can bury his toys or bones there so that he has the motivation togo digging in that precise place. 

# 4 Keep your dog busy when he's in the garden

If the thought of giving your dog a sandbox raises your eyebrows, there are other ways you can keep him occupied. There are 1001 interactive and chewy games thatyou could give your furry friend outside to occupy him (and therefore prevent him from occupying himself).

You could also offer him a bone to chew on or some other interesting and safe chewable object.

# 5 redirect your dog to another behaviour

Finally, once your strategies are in place, you may need to redirect your dog when thedesire to dig in your new, all-green lawn resurfaces! You can then directyour dog to his bones or to where he is allowed to dig. Eventually, hewill dig there on his own or play with his chew toy to  expend energy. In addition, teaching hima good reminder to stop this behaviour could also be useful.