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your dog seem to regard your yard as his own personal earthmoving project?
so, it’s important to realize that digging is a very natural instinctive
behavior in dogs. Dogs dig in dirt or other substrates, like mulch or sand, to
bury items they want to save for later, like a favorite chew or toy, or to search for items that they have hidden in the past. They also dig to
search for prey like rodents or other tasty treats such as insects. Some dogs
may also dig because they are attempting an escape or because they are anxious.
Though some of this behavior is not only acceptable but perhaps even
advantageous in the wild, most owners do tend to object to their dogs digging
up their nice lawns or gardens or leaving holes that people can step into and
Here are a few of my
favorite tips that might help you curb this unwanted behavior:
1. Supervise. Do your best to monitor your dog every time he goes out in the
yard until you get this behavior under control. As soon as you see your dog start
to dig, distract him with a novel noise, such as clapping your hands or blowing a
loud whistle. Some people like to use shaker cans, which are empty soda cans
filled with coins or rocks. If you do use a shaker can, make sure the sound
simply breaks your dog’s concentration but does not overly frighten him. Once
you have his attention, you can then redirect him to more appropriate behaviors.
The goal here is to disrupt your dog’s digging, interrupt his train of thought, and then redirect him to something completely different and fun, like chasing a
ball or getting engaged in a game of go-find-it. Something I find very
effective is to toss a handful of small treats onto the ground. Your dog will
have to use his eyes and nose to search out those tasty treats. As he gets
better at the game, you can toss treats into a wider area, and, therefore, he has to
search longer for those goodies and, hopefully, he will forget about whatever it was he
was trying to dig up! Although, be careful that your dog isn’t eating a lot of
grass while searching for those treats, as it can sometimes contain parasites,
pesticides or other nasty stuff.2. Contain. Sometimes it is very difficult to suppress what is really a very natural
behavior for your canine friend. So in the long run, it may be easier to try
and control where he is allowed to dig. You can do this by providing a certain
area of the yard that is clearly marked for digging. Mark the area by
using low plant borders or fences from your local home improvement store, or
set out small flags that are used by lawn maintenance companies.
You can also create a distinct digging area where you provide him with certain
substrates that he likes to dig in, such as play sand. You can clearly mark
the appropriate digging area and then hide fun items, like special toys, partially
buried in the substrate. Go out in the yard with your dog and call him over and
encourage him to dig up those items. Whenever he tries to dig in the other
section of the yard, disrupt him and bring him over to the appropriate area. When
he starts to dig out the goodies you have partially buried for him, offer him plenty
of praise! Make it very clear to him that all of the rewards and praises are
showered on him when he digs in the marked area of the yard.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
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