A dog's obsession with digging in the same spot can be extremely frustrating (not to mention puzzling), but it doesn't have to be for long! You can help discourage this aggravating activity if you first figure out why he's doing it. We'll examine how you can do just that.
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Dogs are predatory carnivores, so they have an innate desire to chase the local wildlife. If your pet sees a rabbit or mole disappear down a hole, it's safe to assume he'll dig to chase after it. Take a close look around your dog's favorite digging spot for small rodent burrows. Use a shovel to make clean cuts in the soil around the hole's edge and bottom in case your dog covered the tunnel entrance while digging. Block up holes or contact a pest control professional to resolve the situation. You can also simply restrict your dog's access to the yard so he can't reach the burrow.
The tantalizing smells, sights and sounds of the world beyond his enclosure may prompt your pet to dig his way to freedom. While some dogs pick different areas each time, many attempt to tunnel out in a particular spot. Gaps between or under the fence where your dog can see outside his enclosure are particularly tempting. Installing wire beneath your stockade or extending the fence several feet into the ground should curb this behavior, according to Dog Training Central.
Some dogs dig holes out of sheer boredom or to get their owners' attention. Others do it because they enjoy the smell and physical sensation of digging. It's a normal canine activity -- specifically bred into terriers -- so your pup may dig simply out of instinct when he's stressed or excited. It's also possible he's trying to escape the heat. If your pup loves to hide his bones, he may try to bury them in the yard and retrieve them at a later date.
Preventing Obsessive Digging
The solution to your pet's digging problem depends on his motivation. Provide him a shaded area to lay in during the summer, and don't leave him out for long. Give him vigorous exercise each day so he doesn't feel the need to expend pent-up energy on backyard excavations. Discourage him from digging at certain sites by installing a square piece of chicken wire a few inches under the soil's surface in your dog's favorite digging spots.
Even though digging is a natural activity for your dog to pursue, there are completely safe and humane ways to discourage him from doing it in unwanted areas. You can train your pup to limit his digging to a certain designated area or help him to give up the habit through training. Consistently correct him when you catch him in the act using a firm voice paired with an unpleasant noise (coins in a can, for example). Never use physical punishment to correct him. Give plenty of positive reinforcement such as praise, rubs, and treats when your dog obeys your command to stop or when he digs within his designated spot.
By Quentin Coleman
Big Dogs Huge Paws: Prevent Digging
Dog Training Central: How to Stop Dogs From Digging
The Humane Society of the United States: Dig This: How to Get Your Dog to Stop Digging
About the Author
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.