Why do dogs dig and how to stop it holiday cottages

Canine Care

Why do dogs dig and how to stop it

Battersea 12 September 2023

When it comes to digging, dogs just can’t get enough of it! However, too much digging can pose a challenge if your furry friend is bringing dirt indoors. 

Our friends over at Battersea have shared some handy tips to understand why dogs dig in the first place and how you can prevent unnecessary digging from becoming a frequent occurrence. 

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Why do dogs dig? 

Ancestral instincts 

dog digging on beach

While dogs have been man’s best friend for thousands of years, their roots trace back to their ancestors who relied on digging for survival, creating shelter and protection in the wild. This deep-rooted instinct remains imprinted in their genes, even as modern-day pets. 

Escaping boredom 

St Bernard looking bored

Just like us, dogs can often get bored from time to time, and this makes digging an entertaining pastime for them. When dogs are left alone for extended periods or are lacking in mental stimulation, they can often resort to digging as a way of keeping themselves occupied. 

Copycat canines 

Two dogs digging in leaves

Dogs are very observant and can learn certain behaviours from other dogs or even humans. When they see another dog digging, they too can be inspired to join in on the fun! 

Emotional outlet 

Ginger dog digging in hole

Dogs can experience stress and anxiety too. Digging can act as an emotional outlet for pent-up energy and emotions. Make sure that your dog is getting enough physical exercise, which can include playing fetch, walking, running and swimming. 

How to stop a dog from digging

Use deterrents 

black dog digging

We recommend restricting access to your dog’s usual digging spots, either by installing garden fencing or a similar barrier. You can also cover the digging spots with rocks and stones to discourage your dog from digging in these areas. Another option would be to supervise your dog while they’re outside until you’ve designated a new digging spot for them. 

Make use of a designated digging area 

dog playing with ball in sandbox

Providing your dog with a digging outlet, such as a small sandpit, can also be a great alternative. Keep the pit away from your dog’s usual digging area and fill it with a small amount of soil. This way, your dog can dig freely and play in a controlled environment. To encourage them to use the sandpit, you can even hide some treats and toys in and around the soil. 

Provide physical and mental stimulation 

dog playing with rope toy

If your dog is resorting to excessive digging, it may be due to a lack of mental stimulation. Involve your dog in enjoyable activities that you both can participate in, such as playing fetch, going for long walks, or having a tug of war. Providing your dog with this enrichment can redirect your dog towards more acceptable behaviours and strengthen your bond with them. 

Use positive reinforcement training 

dog smiling on its back

Be sure to praise and reward your dog when they dig in their designated area, or refrain from digging in their usual spot at all. This will help reinforce the desired behaviour. Keep in mind the importance of maintaining consistency with the suggested efforts. Dogs love a consistent routine, and this will quickly help them to grasp what is expected of them. 

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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