Dogs love to dig and, oftentimes, there is little that pet parents can do to stop it. Digging is a natural behavior that dogs in the wild undertake for survival, food caching or nesting purposes.
While domestic dogs often dig because of boredom or playfulness, the habit can quickly become destructive if it is not contained to acceptable areas. By building a digging pit, you can help your dog exercise his natural need to dig while also keeping your yard and landscaping safe and sound.
Building the Digging Pit
A digging pit is not an involved affair. In order to build one, pet parents simply need to identify a place in the yard where the dog may dig. The defined area should then be bordered with rocks or a small fence to make it visually obvious to the dog. Finally, the area should be filled with a combination of fine dirt and sand, which will facilitate easier digging for your dog.
Teaching the Dog to Use the New Digging Pit
Like most things, dogs will have to be trained to use the digging pit. The easiest way to do this is to bury a few of your dog’s favorite toys therein. This encourages the dog to dig to “discover” the toys. Sit with your dog while he or she digs the toys up and then offer ample praise, food rewards and pats for the dog’s efforts. When the dog has uncovered all of the buried toys, re-bury them deeper and encourage the dog to dig for them once more.
By hiding exciting surprises in the digging pit, you teach your dog that it is more rewarding to dig there than it is to dig in the middle of the yard. Over time, dogs will learn to associate the digging pit with excitement and fun. To keep the digging pit exciting, hide new toys and treats like bones often.
Troubleshooting Remaining Digging Problems
If you have built a digging pit but your dog is still tearing up the yard, it is time to troubleshoot. Many dogs simply do not understand that it is okay to dig in one place but not in others. To rectify this problem, supervise your dog’s outside time. If he begins to dig in the yard, redirect his attention by clapping your hands loudly or calling his name and then guide the dog to the digging pit.
If, for some reason, the dog is not interested in digging in the digging pit, bury more toys or make the toys easier to access by burying them at a more shallow depth. Try burying food treats, as well, as these will often capture a dog’s attention.
Although redirecting your dog to appropriate digging areas may take some time, pet parents who are consistent in this practice will eventually find that their dog is happy to dig in the digging pit and leave the yard alone.
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