Digging is fun!
By: Gillian Daniels – Trainer at New Dawn Animal Behavior Center, Clearwater, Florida
Most dogs enjoy digging. It’s a natural and fun behavior for them. We humans may not enjoy this behavior as much as our dogs, but one thing to remember is that your dog doesn’t do anything out of spite, or anger. That’s a human thing, but not how dogs think or behave. Your dog is most likely digging because he’s bored and there’s nothing else to do. You may need to increase his physical and mental exercise and not leave him in the yard unattended.
If you don’t mind the digging, and it’s not along the fence line or an attempt to escape, there’s no reason to stop your pup from enjoying digging a nice hole. However, if you don’t love your dog’s landscaping, there are a few options. Often the easiest way to resolve this is redirecting him to a spot where you don’t mind him digging.
When teaching your dog where you’d like him to dig, pick a spot where he already enjoys digging. Then when he begins digging in another place, call him over to the preferred spot and encourage him to dig there.
If you don’t want any digging, you will need to teach your dog a positive interrupter, like “leave it” and then change the environment by bringing him inside or redirecting him to play with you instead. Remember this behavior often occurs when your dog is bored, and there’s nothing else to do. Just saying “no, don’t do that,” doesn’t tell your dog what you want him to do, and can be frustrating for you both.
Scolding your dog or correcting him for digging will only suppress the behavior while you (the punisher) are present, but not teach him what you’d like him to do, or where you’d like him to dig instead. Think about it like speeding in your car. If you see a police car you won’t speed, but when they’re not around you continue the behavior. It’s the same for our dogs.