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The Root of the Behavior
Determining the cause of your dog’s digging behavior takes careful observation and patience. First, you must understand that your dog’s ancestors lived in the wild and digging a den for themselves to have puppies and protect themselves from predators and environmental issues were required to live. This means your dog has the action of digging holes in his DNA that could be the cause of his behavior. If your dog tends to dig holes on occasion and tries to get inside of it and sleep, chances are it’s a natural instinct. However, if your dog is digging holes excessively, there might be another reason behind the behavior. Dogs that dig holes under fences are usually trying to escape. This happens when dogs see things outside of their yard that captures their attention. Since dogs are curious, they will do everything they can to get to the object, person, or another dog.
If your dog enjoys digging up your garden, he can be bored or is trying to find something. If you have rodents or pests that hang around your garden, your dog might be trying to stop them by catching them. This usually causes excessive digging that is randomly placed throughout the garden. Dogs that dig up your roses for fun are simply bored and find the activity to be fun and entertaining. As you observe your dog, try to keep a journal of the activity and surroundings that happened prior to the digging behavior. Your dog might start digging holes as soon as you leave the house. This is usually a sign that your dog is experiencing separation anxiety and is releasing his stress by digging holes. Rain, thunder, and lightning can scare dogs. Some dogs are scared of water in general, but most are sensitive to the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder rumbling. Dogs that are located outdoors during a thunderstorm that don’t have a dog house will attempt to dig a hole for safety.
Encouraging the Behavior
As a pet parent, you do not want to encourage this behavior, even though it is harmless to your dog. Your dog will exhibit this action naturally or for a specific reason such as the ones mentioned earlier. Pet parents that have dogs who excessively dig holes often find themselves being contacted by neighbors and homeowners associations due to the condition of their lawn. If you are in this type of situation, you can take steps to lessen and prevent your dog from digging holes. Once you determine the cause of the digging, you need to address the issue.
If it’s a natural instinct you can keep your dog indoors more often and section off a portion of the yard for him only. This way he can dig holes in that area that is hidden from the public eye. Dogs that are escape artists are often attracted to things on the other side of the fence. Installing a wooden fence that prevents your dog from seeing anything except for your yard is recommended. You should also find ways to entertain your dog in the fenced-in yard such as sprinklers that turn on automatically so he can splash around and place lots of toys around the yard to keep him occupied.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Once you have tried to deter your dog from digging holes, the behavior should gradually lessen. However, it may never completely stop. If you are finding it difficult to determine the cause of the behavior and find ways to help stop your dog from continuing the behavior, it is wise to consult with a professional dog trainer. Dog trainers are capable of observing a situation and pinpointing the cause of the behavior. They also provide excellent tips that coordinate specifically with your dog’s needs. During the process of training your dog and making changes such as installing a fence and observing his behavior, you will need patience and understanding.
Avoid yelling or giving your dog any attention when he digs holes. Your dog might be digging holes just to get your attention, even if it involves you yelling at him. He will enjoy soaking up all the attention no matter how angry you seem to be. He will also continue the behavior every time he wants to get your attention. Digging holes is a natural instinct for dogs so try not to take it personally. Perhaps, he is just trying to dig a new swimming pool in your backyard as a gift to you.