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Wellness

How To Get Your Dog To Stop Digging

If you recently noticed that your dog is digging and you are looking for ways for them to quit this troublesome behavior, you will be relieved to learn that, while it can be difficult, it is certainly not impossible.

There are a myriad of reasons that your dog might be indulging in this habit. Ultimately, it’s essential that you get to the bottom of what’s leading your dog to do this before you attempt to rectify their behavior.

Pawp veterinarian Dr. Sylvalyn Hammond recommends dealing with digging promptly. Digging may cause injuries to your dog, including “torn or broken nails, exposure to toxins or soil borne illnesses, and even escaping and becoming lost or injured are all possible negative outcomes in avid or unsupervised diggers.”

Once you successfully figured out why your dog is digging, you can begin to embark on teaching them how to stop it. This can seem overwhelming at first. But, remember that with dedicated effort and patience, your dog will be able to overcome their habit. 

Today, you will learn more about why your dog might be digging and how you can get them to stop. In addition, read on to find some tips and tricks if none of the aforementioned tactics seem to be leaving an impression on your dog and they are continuing to dig.

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Why does my dog dig?

If you have noticed that your dog enjoys digging, you might be wondering why they do this. There are plenty of reasons why dogs dig, and it’s a fairly common behavior. Still, it can be difficult to deal with, especially when it is disruptive and your pet is destroying furniture.

Digging for dogs is an instinct; it dates all the way back to your dog’s wild ancestors. Therefore, it’s important not to chide them too much for digging—it is in their nature to do so. Nevertheless, when it becomes destructive and unwelcome, it’s time to take steps for your pet to overcome this troubling behavior. 

Digging is a joyful activity for many dogs. Remember this before you get angry and yell at your dog; being gentle yet stern in tone is best for getting your dog to listen. Digging is similar to sniffing or barking for a dog; it’s often an involuntary habit, and one that your dog likely doesn’t realize is wrong. 

There are certain dogs that have predispositions to digging. So, if your dog is routinely engaging in this behavior, it could be worth looking into if your dog falls into this category. In such a case, a vet familiar with the breed might be able to suggest a course of action.

Continue reading to learn more about why your dog might be digging. 

They’re bored

When your dog is bored, they will go to unprecedented lengths to entertain themselves. That can include chewing, barking, and digging. In addition, your dog might be digging in hopes of finding something more exciting to do. Unfortunately, this can lead to destruction for pet owners. 

There is a silver lining to this cause for digging: there are a plethora of ways that you can help your dog combat their boredom. While digging is not an easy habit to kick, there are certainly ways that providing your pet with entertaining things to do can help combat it. 

They’re hunting

As mentioned earlier, digging is a dog’s instinct. Therefore, your dog might be “hunting” when they are digging. Remember: there are ways that you can work to reduce the likelihood that your dog behaves this way, but keeping in mind that it’s part of their nature can be helpful for staying patient. 

They want attention

While your dog might be digging for some fairly innocent reasons, the reality is that sometimes, they are trying to get attention. If your dog learns that when they dig, you will pay attention to them, there’s the chance that they will continue this behavior to ensure that you continue to pay attention to them. 

In this case, remember that even when you punish your dog for engaging in this behavior, you are still giving them what they desire: attention. Try to praise them when they are behaving correctly, and provide them with the appropriate amount of attention. 

They want to escape

If your dog is in a fenced-in area in the backyard, there is a chance that your dog is attempting to dig and escape. An example of this is a chicken wire fence. Canines are known for attempting to dig to get underneath barriers, so if you have any around and your dog enjoys digging, you can nearly be sure that they will attempt to do this. 

They’re seeking comfort

This is a more practical reason for digging. For one, your dog might be attempting to relieve anxiety, such as separation anxiety. Digging can help them achieve this because they are staying busy.

In addition, if your dog is in a warm place, they might be digging to get more comfortable, as a shallow hole can help a dog stay cool when they want to beat the hot weather. 

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How can I get them to stop?

There are several ways that you can help your dog put their digging habit in the past. The first step is arguably the most critical; when you successfully achieve this, it’s a lot easier to figure out what you need to do to get your dog to stop digging once and for all. 

Get to the root of the problem

Your first—and arguably most crucial step—is to get to the root of the problem. The approach you will take to get your dog to stop depends heavily on what is causing them to dig in the first place.

Therefore, by process of elimination, you should figure out why they are behaving in such a manner. Sometimes, this will take several days of observation.

Call your vet

Talking to your vet about the predicament can help you get personalized information about how to tackle your pet’s problem. Ideally, you will come to them with a possible cause or at least some evidence suggesting the digging is caused by one thing over another.

From there, they will be able to help you figure out exactly what is happening and create an appropriate course of action. 

Watch your dog outside

Dogs enjoy digging by nature. Sometimes, it’s wise not to force them away from their natural instincts. For this reason, you can watch your dog outside and help them channel their digging into an appropriate outlet.

This could mean a place in your yard where digging is allowed. This can be your pet’s so-called “digging zone.” It doesn’t require a lot of setup or maintenance, and the investment of time and energy can prove valuable when your dog is no longer destroying furniture. 

Play with your dog

Playing a simple game like fetch with your dog can work miracles when it comes to reducing their boredom, which is one of the key culprits of why dogs begin to dig in the first place. Therefore, building time to play with your pet is an invaluable addition to your daily routine—and your dog’s. 

Give your dog more attention

As mentioned, sometimes dogs begin to dig because they are looking for attention from their beloved owners. When you punish your dog for digging, you are still providing them with a green light (though inadvertently) because you are giving them the attention that they want. 

Therefore, you should spend more time giving your dog attention in a setting that doesn't involve digging. You can spend time playing with them, take them for walks, have them sit next to you on the couch and give them a bone, or spend time with them outdoors in their digging zone. (Just be sure they’re protected against creatures such as ticks and that they’re not eating grass.) 

Give your dog more mental stimulation

If you believe that your dog is bored or anxious, and that is why they are acting out, providing your dog with more mental stimulation will help alleviate the problem. You can offer your dog a puzzle toy that will get them thinking. This not only works wonders with boredom but can help stimulate their brain. 

What should I do if these methods don’t work?

If none of these mentions are successful, it is time to get a trusted veterinarian’s opinion on what your next steps are. These are some popular solutions for dogs that are digging enthusiasts. However, a more specialized veterinarian might be able to recommend highly specific problem-solving techniques.

It’s important that you give your dog a chance, have patience, and do not scold them by yelling. If you have attempted for several months to see a difference and there is still no change, address it with your vet.

Another alternative is by reaching out to a dog behavioral professional. They will have specialized training in this sector. This could be costly but worth it.

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Reach out to a vet if you’re unsure why your pet is digging

If your dog enjoys digging, you do not have to deal with destroyed furniture and holes in your yard forever. If you get to the bottom of why your dog is digging and take appropriate steps to help them quit, often you will find great success.

And if you’ve reached a point where you’re not sure how to proceed, reaching out to a Pawp vet can help you get some clarity. Pawp’s vets are available to talk 24/7. There’s never an appointment necessary or a wait time. 

DOG DIGGING SOURCES: 

Animal Health Topics / School of Veterinary Medicine - Digging in Dogs | UC Davis Vet Med  

How to get your dog to stop digging | Humane Society  

Can You Dig It? – University of Florida Health 

Dogscaping: Landscaping for you and your dog | Michigan State University

New concepts in research suggest that animals suffer boredom too - News | Royal Veterinary College

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