Stopping Dogs from Digging

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.   

Understanding Digging

Tan and white BeaglierDogs 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.

balloonsSome 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

Black Puggle PuppyDigging 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.

Puppy Teething

Puppies milk teeth are razor sharp and are responsible for many accidental but painful nips, so most new owners look forward to the time when pup replaces those razor sharp masticators for their blunter grown up versions. This usually happens at around 4 – 5 months, with the process being complete at around 7 months – give or take a few months depending on the breed. Larger breeds such as Groodles will develop at a slower pace than smaller breeds such as Poochons that go through these stages very quickly.

Groodle puppy runningBecause pups go through their growing stages 7 times faster than humans your pup losing his milk teeth can feel like a blink and you may miss this little milestone in the life of your puppy. You may end up pulling one of the pin sharp teeth out of your bare foot while walking around the house, or find a few embedded in his favourite chew toy, but in reality most of them are simply swallowed whole. Once the milk tooth falls out the body then reabsorbs the root of the tooth.

Human children will notice a loose tooth and can take extra care when chewing their food. Plus, they also have the option to ask for and consume food that is of the softer variety. Pups have no such luxury and we humans are generally oblivious to the occasion as dogs seem to have avoided the discomfort afforded to humans during this early phase. If you are to notice it all it will be when you see a gaping hole at the front of their mouth, as if they have just come home from a serious bar fight.

Poochon happy and excitedIf the milk teeth do not fall out in time for the adult teeth to grow through the pup will have the appearance of possessing a double set of teeth for some of their teeth. If you notice that a baby tooth just won’t come out, a visit to your veterinarian is essential in order to have these problematic milk teeth pulled out to give room for the permanent teeth to grow through properly. Ignoring this situation may result in misaligned teeth, causing difficulty eating and poor dental hygiene which promotes rot and decay.

All dogs should have a system of oral hygiene as part of their overall health care with a routine visit to the vet for a check and a possible cleaning at least once every 12 months. Teeth can rot out quite quickly in dogs which may manifest in fussy eating habits. Unlike humans, dogs cannot tell you about painful headaches caused by dental issues, or how much agony they suffer while crunching down on their hard biscuits and bones. Make sure you keep a close eye on your dog’s oral situation so you can take care of any problems before they can cause your pet any serious discomfort.