Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?
Dogs dig holes because they are bored. They like to play hide and seek with their owners but when it comes down to it, they don’t have any real interest in playing hide and seek. That’s not what dogs really want to do. What dogs really want is for us humans to provide them with something interesting to do while they’re out there being busy. So they’ll go play in the backyard or garden, but if we keep giving them boring things to do, then they won’t even bother going out there anymore.
What does a dog need to enjoy life?
Something interesting to do! And so far, all I’ve been able to come up with is digging holes.
But why would a dog dig holes?
There are lots of other animals that dig holes too. Rabbits, squirrels, mice, lizards…the list goes on and on.
Why wouldn’t a dog dig holes?
Because they aren’t interested in digging holes. They’re just doing it for fun.
If you think about it though, if dogs were actually interested in digging holes then they’d be digging them all the time! If you had a hole to dig every day for five minutes at least you’d get some enjoyment out of it. And that’s for a hole.
Now what about if someone let you have a nice patch to dig holes in for hours on end?
You’d be digging all the time then!
Why Do Dogs Dig Holes In The First Place?
Dogs dig holes because they’re bored. Dogs are fun animals and they like to have fun things to do. If they can’t find anything else to do, then they’ll make their own fun!
But what does your dog do all day?
He has a nice bed to sleep in, he eats delicious food, he gets to go out for walks, and you give him nice toys to play with.
Why doesn’t he just play with those instead of digging holes?
Well, it’s not because he’s bored of those things. It’s because he doesn’t have anything else to do! If your dog only had the nice bed to sleep in, and nothing else, then he’d be bored of that bed pretty quickly. But because he’s got all these other things to do as well, he doesn’t get bored of the bed. It’s the same with digging holes. If your dog only had the nice patch to dig in, then he’d get bored of that pretty quickly too. But he can do lots of other things in the backyard as well, so there’s no need to dig holes in the first place.
So What Can You Do?
The first thing you can do is provide your dog with more things to do. There are lots of fun and interesting things that dogs can do. There’s usually a reason why they’re digging holes and it’s not because they’re trying to ruin your garden on purpose. It’s because they’re bored!
The next thing you can do is provide your dog with things to do outside, but not in the backyard or garden. If you’ve got a dog that digs holes, then getting them to go for walks is pretty useless unless you plan on taking them somewhere with soft grass and no flowers for them to dig up. So getting them to go out, but not onto your property, is a good start. It’s also good exercise. You can even get them to walk with you on dirt paths so they don’t get the chance to dig up any grass or flowers.
You might be thinking that it seems like a hassle, but if your dog is digging holes all the time, then it’s going to end up being more of a hassle in the long run. Especially if you’re getting sick of having to put everything into lockable containers just so they have place to sleep at night.
Your dog is only going to keep getting bored. In fact, they might even do something worse than digging holes if you don’t help them with this situation. A bored dog is a bad thing so it’s always better to give them things to do, even if that means you have to get up an hour earlier every day.
You shouldn’t think about it as work though. You should think about it as bonding time with your dog. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time together and the happier they are, the happier you’ll be.
Let’s face it, who wants a miserable dog moping around the house?
Not you and especially not your dog.
Clicker training is a great way to keep your dog active and engaged. By using positive reinforcement and clicker training you can encourage your dog to do all sorts of fun things that will give them a great mental and physical workout.
So now you know what to do about a bored dog that likes to dig holes in the backyard. As long as you’re providing your dog with plenty of things to do, then they shouldn’t get bored and dig holes in your garden.
It’s good to keep them busy. Not only does it keep them from getting bored, but it stops them from getting too rowdy as well. So you should definitely get into the habit of giving your dog some exercise and activities to do on a daily basis. It doesn’t take too much time, but it makes a world of difference.
You can use the clicker method for simple commands like sit, down, come here and walk on a leash. This is easy and fun for your dog and they’ll quickly learn that these actions earn a reward from you which is the click and whatever reward you’ve decided works best for you.
The next step is to teach your dog how to do tricks like jumping through a hoop, standing on two legs, rolling over and even catching a ball in their mouth. This will again help with their physical fitness as well as keeping their mind active.
You don’t have to spend hours teaching them to do these tricks. In fact, it doesn’t even need to be a daily activity. Just whenever you have a little time to teach them something new is fine. The great thing about dogs is that they’re incredibly quick to learn when they want to be and they never forget. So once they know how to do something, it’s there forever!
Stop Dog From Digging Video
Here is a quick video on how to stop your dog from digging around the garden. It is a shame that most people resort to using electric shock collars when there are much better options that can be used. If you have tried everything else to stop your dog from digging holes in your garden then perhaps using an electric shock collar is better than them continuing to dig up your plants, but it still does not compare to using the above techniques.
How To Stop A Dog From Digging In The Yard
Your dog can still be allowed outside, and it will still get the same enjoyment out of being in the great outdoors, but it won’t be able to cause as much damage to your property. If you’re lucky, the dog will forget about digging holes altogether and content itself with sprinting around, barking at birds and rolling around in the grass.
If you want to keep your dog active, try playing games with them inside the house. This can be fetch, chasing them around old socks or anything else that comes to mind. Not only will this provide them with the entertainment they so dearly love, it will also give you a rest as well. Who knows, maybe you’ll even have more time to actually spend with your dog.
What NOT To Do
There are a few things that you should avoid doing with your dog such as hitting them or yelling at them constantly.
Holding a grudge against your dog because it dug up part of your garden is also a bad idea. Dogs have a much shorter memory than humans, so punishing them severely for something moments after they’ve done it is completely pointless. For all it knows, you’re angry for something else!
Instead, distractions and positive reinforcement for behaviors you DO like will help to train your dog a hell of a lot better.
Also try not to make a huge deal out of digging in the first place. If your dog is partially motivated by your reactions to what it does, then you’ll simply be teaching it that digging is a great way to get your attention.
With some patience and the techniques mentioned above, you’ll quickly find that your dog has stopped digging altogether. This is when you can really start having some fun with it!
Sources & references used in this article:
- An ethological approach to the problem of dogs digging holes (JSJ Odendaal – Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 1997 – Elsevier)
- Why Do Dogs Dig? (K Wurtz – petozy.com)
- Canine digging behavior and archaeological implications (RJ Jeske, LA Kuznar – Journal of field archaeology, 2001 – Taylor & Francis)
- How to speak dog: mastering the art of dog-human communication (S Coren – 2001 – books.google.com)
- Ground barrier to stymie digging animals (BKD Robertson – US Patent 6,289,639, 2001 – Google Patents)
- The truth about dogs: The ancestry, social conventions, mental habits and moral fibre of Canis familiaris (A Perkins – 1967 – Random House Books for Young …)
- Notes concerning a captive prairie-dog (S Budiansky – 2016 – books.google.com)