Snoqualmie Pets 101: Digging, Why Dogs do it and Ways to Curb it

This is the latest from guest columnist, Melissa, who is a Pet-ology Expert and In-home Dog Trainer at Le Chic Pet in Issaquah.  To get more training tips visit the LeChic website.

Some breeds of dogs were bred to dig, expecting them not to is unfair and unrealistic.  Most of the little diggers are terriers, coming from the Latin “terra” which means earth.  See, it’s in the name we have no chance, right?  Wrong.

Aside from the terriers, there are many other reasons why dogs dig.  Boredom, to create a cool place to lie in, to escape, or to bury something.

Remember never reinforce any behavior that you do not want to occur. So unfortunately, that means no digging in the garden in front of the dog or occasionally allowing the behavior when it’s funny or if you have gophers.  Lead by example.

MANAGING THE BEHAVIOR
Digging is a behavior that will probably occur when you are not around.  Please remember that coming home and taking the dog to the hole to chastise him will do absolutely no good.  In fact, it may make the dog dread your homecoming instead of turning inside out with joy.

Remember to praise appropriate behavior.  If you see Fido out in the yard being an angel, praise lavishly. Keeping your dog exercised, limiting their access to dirt or making it unpleasant (burying poop where they commonly dig) may all help manage the problem.
Another option is creating a dig zone for the dog.  It may be a little messy, but some dogs are happiest with their paws in the dirt.

METHODS TO DETER DIGGING
Bury the dog’s poop, as stated, before or lava rocks where they commonly dig and cover them with dirt.  Make sure the dog does not see you do it.  When the dog goes back to his favorite spot to get his paws flying it will be an unpleasant experience for him.  If your dog moves to a different spot, you may have to repeat this several times, but eventually some dogs will give up.

Another idea is bury chicken wire where the dog tends to dig.  Bury it an inch or two down and use a big enough piece so they won’t rip it up.  The dog is prevented from digging any further down than the wire.  The wire can stay there all the time and won’t hurt the plants and flowers.

REMEMBER THIS…
Digging is normal canine behavior and you may have to work hard to eliminate it.  You may never completely eliminate it.  Exercise and supervision may be your best bet to control this problem.

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