If you’ve ever gone outside to your backyard and stepped into a hole, chances are you probably don’t have moles. In fact, the animal responsible is the same animal who regularly bounds around your house and snuggles up close to you at night. He isn’t a pest. He’s your pet. So what can you do when you realize that he’s tearing up the back garden and leaving holes everywhere you step? It’s no doubt a frustrating problem for many dog owners.
For owners of Labradors, the problem can be even more frustrating knowing that your dog may not be digging for any reason other than he finds it fun! Labradors are energetic and curious. They love the water and the mud and digging may present a great opportunity to get nice and dirty, much to your frustration. While Labradors aren’t the only breed of dog that gets up to digging antics, they can be a bit difficult to convince that digging isn’t something they should be doing, especially when you need the backyard for your kids to play in or your prize-winning tomatoes are put at risk of being torn up. There’s no reason to dismay, however, as digging is almost always a problem that can be tackled with enough resilience.
Dogs dig for many reasons, whether curiosity, boredom, for fun, or because of an issue such as anxiety and fear. The important first step in “diagnosing” your Labrador is to determine why exactly he’s digging in the first place. Keep an eye on your pup to watch his behavior and when it occurs. Is he not being supervised enough? Is he hiding extra food? Write down anything you observe in order to properly address the behavior.
Puppies especially may pick up digging out of boredom or excessive energy. The good news is, puppies are easier to break of the habit than older dogs. Start addressing the digging behavior as early as you can in order to nip it in the bud. Expect to take a week or two of repetition to break your puppy of this destructive behavior, but remember that bad habits can always make a resurgence into adulthood.
First, double check that your puppy isn’t digging because of separation anxiety. This is a behavior that may need to be addressed by a veterinarian or a behaviorist in order for it to prevent the digging behavior.
Barring anxiety, there are a variety of ways to prevent your Labrador’s digging behavior. Depending on the method, you will need things like toys and treats for reward, or gates and fences to prevent access to areas where digging is possible. Consider the best course of action for your puppy before committing to just one method of training.