How to stop dogs digging | The context
Digging is a natural behavior in dogs. They sometimes do it to cool themselves in the earth, warm themselves in winter, bury food and/or toys, hunt for burrowing animals, or simply to play. There is also the possibility that they will dig to escape, or it might be related to separation anxiety. In these cases the digging is only the result of the separation anxiety or the self-rewarding behavior of running away. Once the cause is addressed the digging usually stops by itself. But for normal digging the behavior is quite straightforward to work with. The problem often is that digging happens when no one is around.
How to stop dogs digging | What to do?
Being able to control the environment or situation is the first step. If digging happens when you are away, you need to outsmart your dog. Also make sure your dog has no access to areas where it can dig when you are not around. Basically you will have to lure your dog into digging when you are there. A way to lure your dog into digging is to bury some treats in an existing hole – just slightly covered with earth. Obviously put the food in when your dog is not around. Make sure you have access to the area and can supervise what is happening and have some time. If your dog is prone to running away when you try to get hold of it, you might need to tie a thin rope to your dog’s collar. This way you can step on the rope in case your dog runs away.
A clear response is to immediately isolate your dog when you see it digging. It my preferred choice in these circumstances, as it might be hard to catch the dog in the act of digging. When you see your dog digging, calmly walk up to it, get hold of its collar and put it in time-out for longer period. I would suggest at least half and hour.
Another way to set some boundaries around dogging is interrupting the behavior and claiming some space. Walk calmly over to your dog when it is digging, take hold of your dog’s collar and walk it away a few meters without giving it any attention. Repeat each time your dog returns and is about to dig. If your dog is too persistent, isolate it. Only use the above if your dog is likely to come back and try to dig again. By setting boundaries, you can give it more signals. Using isolation immediately, on the other hand, is a way stronger response.
Let us know how you go or if you have questions. Success stories? Pictures of dogs caught in the act? Pls share below.
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