Common Dog Behavior Problems – The Positive Solutions
Why Dogs Do This: Digging is a stress-induced behavior, caused by loneliness, boredom, and pent up energy. Sometimes people assume that a dog will exercise himself to exhaustion all by himself once they let him out to the backyard – this is NOT TRUE. A lot of dogs just don’t find themselves interesting enough to run around alone for long, leaving them with excess energy that seeks outlets – like boredom barking, inappropriate chewing, or DIGGING.
How to Fix It: A dog that digs is crying out for more constructive stimulation – more physical exercise, more mental stimulation like trick training, and more social/emotional support from time spent with his family.
What Your Dog Can Do Instead: There are a TON of great alternative behaviors that a dog would enjoy more than digging: walks or runs with his humans, hanging out with the family inside, playing with his human or canine friends in the backyard, learning new obedience commands.
DON’T leave your dog unattended in the backyard. Giving a lonely dog time around soft, diggable earth without constructive games or toys to fill his time is a recipe for him to discover or practice compulsive digging.
DO teach your dog that backyard time is constructive playtime, not time to wander around until he finds something fun to do for himself – it likely won’t be something YOU want him doing! The best way to get this message across is by playing with him whenever he’s outside.
DON’T punish your dog for digging – if you catch him at it, just get his attention, then invite him to play with a toy, practice some obedience training commands with tasty treat rewards, play fetch – whatever he likes!
It’s tempting to bring the dog outside on a leash, wait for him to start digging, and then immediately end his outdoor time by bringing him back inside. While this may stop him from digging while you’re around, it won’t fix the underlying issue CAUSING the digging – your dog’s boredom, loneliness, and frustration. Only offering him good alternative outlets for his energy will fix these issues and eliminate his motivation to dig.