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Training Tips: Digging

Why do dogs dig? It’s fun! Digging is also a social behavior, which explains why your dog starts digging when you plant flowers in the garden. And digging is an important component of hunting, an instinct biologically ingrained in your dog over thousands of years of survival and evolution.

So how do you stop your dog from digging? The idea is not to stop the behavior entirely but rather redirect it to something positive: an activity that lets your dog be happy but also that you want him to enjoy.

First things first: Puppy-proof your yard. Keep ornamental beds in areas your dog cannot access, such as the front yard. Enclose flower beds with chicken wire or garden fences. Use gravel instead of mulch or pine straw.

Set up a sandbox for your dog to dig in. Bury stuffed Kong toys and other goodies for your dog to find. This will be fun for both of you! When your dog starts digging in unwanted locations, turn his attention to his sandbox. He will quickly learn he gets rewards for good behavior and make a point of focusing on the sandbox…and not your rose bushes.

Remember: Positive reinforcement is key. Never yell, chase, or throw things at your dog to get him to stop digging (or doing any unwanted thing). You’ll either unwittingly turn digging into a fun game of chaseor you’ll be teaching your dog to be afraid and resentful of you.

Is your dog digging inside? You may need to call an exterminator to check for hidden pests.

Is your dog territorial? Barking like crazy out the window? Fence fighting? Check out The Sentry Dog by Michele Godlevski, Certified Canine Behavior Consultant.