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Digging


Digging will happen for several reasons and you need to understand the problem before you can apply a solution.  The reasons for digging include:

1. Boredom– after a while outside dog begins to dig.


2. Escaping – digging near fence lines to get out.


3. Hunting – several holes dug in a row to extract a gopher etc.


4. Cooling – digging a hole and then laying in it typically on a hot day.


5. Separation Anxiety - Digging frantically as soon as you leave.


Most typical causes are Boredom in which you will need to find something to occupy your dog’s time or give them some more exercise.  You can also make them a special digging box where you can hide certain toys and encourage digging there so they will dig there and not in the rest of your yard.


For Separation Anxiety, see the article on Separation Anxiety.


For Escaping you will need to proof up Pack Structure and give your dog something more exciting to do as well as burn off more energy. This is quite similar to Boredom.


For Hunting you will need to get rid of your gopher population (or other vermin) or apply a negative consequence for digging. You could also rent them out to a farmer with a gopher problem and take advantage of that natural talent.


For Cooling you can get a kiddie pool or provide some nice shade or a water mister in your back yard.


We personally don't train our dogs to stop digging as it is an indication to us that we are not meeting their needs through exercise or mental stimulation. In the summer if we get really busy a dog may dig a hole and it is a good reminder to us that we need to spend more time with our dogs in the chaos of life. If we are exercising our dogs and spending time with them there are zero holes dug in the yard. If you do this long enough they get out of the habit of digging in the yard so if you do forget to spend time with them they are much less likely to dig a hole in the yard.


Some other ways to stop digging are these:


1. Chicken Wire or Lava Rock - Where the dog digs you can place chicken wire or lava rock so it is hard on the dog's paws when they dig. This works for some dogs to get them to stop digging. The chicken wire can be placed under the lawn or allow the lawn to grow over it.


2. Dog Poop - You can place some of their dog poop in a hole and cover it back up. Some dogs do not like to dig up their own feces and this will help stop them from digging. Some dogs love to dig and eat poop so you will want to make sure your dog doesn't like it otherwise you would be rewarding digging.


3. Remote Collar (E-collar or Citronella) - When the dog is digging you can press the vibrate or nick at an appropriate level and this can help stop them from digging. You need to be around to spy on the dog for this. If Murphy were around he would add a new Law to Murphy's Law stating that a dog will only dig when you are not spying on them. The second you get up to go to the washroom after you have been spying for an hour without the dog digging you will return three minutes later to find a 2 foot hole in your back yard and the dog is onto something else.

4. Pepper (or Cayenne Pepper) - Many people find this works well. Many dogs don't like to sniff up pepper so this can be enough of a consequence to stop digging.