The bane of many dog-lovers is their canine companion's love of digging up gardens. It could be your prize-winning flowerbed, or just a little patch of lawn, but dogs don't care.Although canine quirks are very cute, this one can be more destructive than most. So how can we stop our furry family members from turning our gardens into compost?The best way to sort out a problem is to find out why your dog is behaving this way. Luckily for us, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has done some research into why dogs like to dig and how to stop it:
Many breeds of dog were originally bred to hunt and find prey. These include very popular breeds such as Spaniels, Labradors and even Poodles. Even if your pet is not a working dog, they still have prey instincts and might dig in the garden to find insects or small animals that they see.Holes that are concentrated in one area, are around the roots of trees and bushes, or holes that seem to follow a pattern might be signs of your dog tracking prey. The HSUS suggests that you look for signs of burrowing animals and then use safe, humane methods to stop them entering your garden, such as fencing.It is very important that you do not use poisons. Not only is this cruel to the animals, but animal poisons will be unsafe for your dog too.
On hot days, dogs might dig holes to protect themselves from the heat and the sun, or to find water. They might also do this do protect themselves from the cold and the rain.If your dog is digging near to buildings, sheltered areas or water sources, they don't have access to shelter, or they lie in the holes they have dug, this is probably why they are digging. Provide them with comfortable shelter, take them inside often on days with extreme weather and make sure they have enough water.
Many dogs are simply bored when they dig, or find the feeling of digging fun. Some breeds, such as terriers, also dig instinctively as that is what they were bred for in the past.Young, energetic dogs might use it as an outlet, whereas other dogs might not have enough toys, activities or other dogs to use up their energy on. Some dogs are just left on their own for too long and resort to digging to make their own entertainment. More intelligent, working breeds are more likely to end up digging holes to stimulate themselves if they don't have enough to do throughout the day.To combat this, these dogs need more to do. Try activities that let them use up their excess energy, such as going on walks often and playing with them using toys that they can chase. Keep them busy with chew and puzzle toys, or try teaching them tricks and commands to keep them from getting bored.
Some dogs know that they shouldn't dig, but do it to get a reaction from their humans. If they don't get a lot of attention from you or other family members and dig only when they know you can see, they might be trying to get attention from you.In this case, it might not help to punish your dog. Punishment is still attention and you do not want to reinforce bad behavior. Instead, praise your dog for good behavior and make sure that you spend more time with them.
And if they don't stop?
If your dog won't stop digging, check to see that there is nothing that they are trying to escape from in your home. If it persists, try giving your dog a part of the garden that they are allowed to dig in and train them to only dig there! Asking your vet or a behavior specialist is also a good idea.
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