Stop that! Did you find your dog digging another hole in the yard? As a pet parent, you might wonder why your dog is digging holes. It’s actually normal behavior for dogs. Your dog’s ancestors lived in the wild and digging holes was essential for their well being. Dogs are den animals and often dug holes to give birth to their pups or hide from predators. They often felt safe in dens from harsh weather as well. Your dog has the habit of digging holes in his DNA, but the following information will help you determine if it is also related to stress, separation anxiety, hunting, escaping, or boredom.
The Root of the Behavior
Chihuahuas that excessively dig holes might be exhibiting this behavior due to emotional issues. Is there anything in your dog’s life that is causing him to feel stressed out? Perhaps he might suffer from separation anxiety? If your dog digs holes while you are away from home and doesn’t exhibit the behavior while you are at home, chances are he is experiencing separation anxiety. When a dog is separated from his pack leader he often feels anxiety. His body fills with physical anxiety and a common way to deal with the high energy level is to dig holes. Emotionally, your dog can dig a hole because he is scared and wants to feel protected. Most likely, this safe feeling is the same emotion he feels when he’s next to you. Hiding in a hole makes him feel better while you are away.
As you can imagine, your little Chihuahua has small paws and might take a long time to dig a hole wide or deep enough to fit his body. Chances are he gives up on digging the hole completely which leaves your yard filled with tiny little dips. Chihuahuas enjoy chasing after rodents and small prey. If your dog has managed to catch one of these pests, he probably left it on your doorstep as a gift to show you how much he loves you. These pests often hang around in gardens and in various areas in the yard. Your dog doesn’t know the importance of lawn care, landscaping, and gardening so he is just digging around trying to catch his prey. Boredom is a common reason dogs dig holes in yards. Some pet parents allow their dogs to play outdoors for a few hours at a time thinking their dog is having fun. However, some dogs become bored after the first 10 minutes of being alone outdoors with nothing to do.
Encouraging the Behavior
Pet parents often feel overwhelmed when they see their dog digging holes. It’s definitely not a behavior most dog owners want their dog to repeat. Discouraging this harmless behavior can be a long road since it can be related to your dog’s natural instincts. Patience and understanding along the way are encouraged. The cause of the behavior should be treated in order for the behavior to lessen and possibly diminish completely. If your dog digs holes because of separation anxiety, there are a few things you can do to help make your dog feel safer.
Dog crates are den-like structures that your dog seeks when he feels scared or wants to rest. Providing your dog with a crate that comfortably accommodates his size and placing a blanket and toys inside will help him feel more secure while you are away from home. Chances are your yard has become destroyed and has missing grass, holes, and looks like a miniature dinosaur from Jurassic Park has ripped it to shreds. You can remedy this situation by keeping your dog indoors while you are away from home and watching him closely when he goes outdoors. Distracting him with a toy every time he attempts to dig a hole will gradually train him to become interested in other things besides digging.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Some pet parents find several ways to prevent their dog from digging holes. One of the most common is repairing the fence to prevent their dog from digging holes to escape from the yard. If you have tried several techniques that don’t seem to lessen or stop the behavior you should consult with a professional dog trainer. Trainers who are not emotionally involved with your dog the same way you are will find it easier to pinpoint the cause of the behavior and treat it properly. Depending on the severity of the issue, a few sessions with a dog trainer usually clears up the issue or at least lessens the frequency of digging.
If your little wild Chihuahua can’t stop digging holes, you should designate a small area of the yard for him to dig holes as much as he likes. Generally, you want this area to be in the backyard and hidden from the public eye. This will help prevent issues with your homeowner's association as well as picky neighbors that might complain about the condition of your yard or nickname it Jurassic Park.
By a Cocker Spaniel lover Shellie Sutera
Published: 04/24/2018, edited: 01/30/2020