As with most dog problems the best way to stop your dog from digging is to determine why they are doing it in the first place. Next to chewing, digging can be one of the most destructive behaviours a dog can participate in which will soon turn your once beautiful backyard into a muddy holed filled mess.
Dogs can dig for any number of reasons with the most popular being that most dogs simply love digging. Other dogs may be trying to get your attention, or they may be bored from a lack of physical and mental stimulation. Dogs can also find the smell of freshly turned or fertilized earth irresistible, and many won’t be able to help themselves. Other reasons may be that they are trying to cool themselves down by digging a hole to lie in, or they may be digging themselves a den. Dogs originally bred for hunting, such as Beagles and Terriers, can also have an instinctual need to dig to flush out their imagined prey. Some Beagliers love to dig if they are allowed to as a natural carryover of their Beagle heritage but to a lesser extent that Beagles.
Changing your dog’s behaviour
Any behavioural changes required in a dog have one thing in common and that is consistency. Dogs need to have it made very clear to them what is and what is not acceptable behaviour. With that said here are a few proven techniques which may help you solve your dog’s problem digging behaviour.
Some dogs will dig to store a bone. If this is the case, then just stop giving him bones. Try a chew toy instead such as a rawhide bone, or pig’s ear. Most dogs are quite particular about where they dig holes and will dig in the same areas almost every time. If this is your dog, try blowing up a few balloons and burying them in areas he likes to dig. Once he’s confronted with the loud pop of a balloon exploding he may develop a negative association with the digging and stop.
Some people have had success with hosing but this method needs close supervision as you have to catch him in the act. When you notice your dog starting to dig spray him with water from the hose. The psychology is similar to the balloon method as your dog is learning a negative association with his digging behaviour.
Another popular method to make digging unpleasant for dogs is to bury chicken wire underneath the areas he likes to dig. Dogs find the scraping on their claws rather unpleasant and will learn to associate digging with this unpleasant sensation. A variation on this method is to scatter freshly cut rose trimmings around the area.
Letting dogs dig in a sandpit
Digging is an instinctual behaviour in dogs so if you don’t want to deny your dog the pleasure you could try building him his very own sandpit where he can dig till his heart’s content. A sandbox in a well shaded area should do the trick. Puggles love to use a sand pit if they are given the opportunity and provide hours of entertainment. To encourage him to use his sandbox bury a couple of his favourite toys while he watches and then encourage him to dig them up. After a little time and some positive reinforcement, he will learn that he can dig in this area and stay out of trouble.