Not every breed of dog is prone to digging, but the stereotype of the dog burying his bone in the backyard is not a total myth, either. Plenty of dog breeds engage in digging activities for a variety of reasons. Most do it instinctively, either because their senses tell them there is prey in the ground (mice and other rodents, for example) or because they want to burrow for the purposes of protection and possibly comfort. Others do it as a way to entertain themselves or get your attention, while some are probably trying to find an escape route. There is, after all, an awful lot of activity outside the fence that they’d like to get in on. Unfortunately, a dog that loves to dig can soon leave your backyard looking like an excavation site. You certainly don’t want to lock him up in a concrete dog run, but you’d also like to avoid the destruction of property that he seems hell-bent on perpetrating. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to prevent your dog from digging up your yard like he’s looking for King Tut’s tomb.
The first thing you’ll want to do is try to figure out why he’s digging. Some breeds, like terriers, have been bred for digging – they were originally used to find and kill rodents. But your dog may also dig haphazardly if he’s bored or lonely. Whether you have a puppy or an older dog, long hours left alone in the yard with no playmates and few toys can be enough to cause him to dig. Just imagine what you might do for entertainment if you were in his situation for eight hours a day. Regardless, you’re going to need to find other outlets for your dog’s energy.
A good place to start if you have to leave him alone while you go to work is to provide him with plenty of distractions in the way of toys and change them up periodically. But this is just the beginning. As a responsible dog owner it falls to you to make sure your pup is getting plenty of activity and exercise. So you’ll need to start walking him at least twice a day and you should also spend time interacting with him daily. This could mean taking a training class and then practicing commands frequently. But you should also play fetch, chase him, or otherwise get him running around the yard. This will condition him to expect other activities in the yard and it will tire him out, as well.
Boredom, loneliness, and excess energy aren’t the only reasons why dogs dig, though. Your dog may also dig for protection, mainly from the elements. If you’re going to leave your pet outdoors, you need to provide him with appropriate shelter and plenty of water. Otherwise you shouldn’t be surprised when you catch him digging holes as a way to escape hot or cold weather. If you find that the holes are near buildings or under trees, or you actually catch your pet lying in these holes, chances are good that he’s seeking shelter. In this case you might want to add a doghouse or even a dog door as a way to give your animal an avenue of relief during hot or cold weather.
Of course, you might also have some kind of pest problem that is causing your pooch to dig up the yard, and you’ll likely see digging around tree roots or concentrated areas of the yard. In this case you might want to talk to your vet about safe methods of scourging the pests that won’t harm them or your dog. And if you catch him digging around the yard dog fence, as if to create an escape tunnel, you’ll probably have to extend the fence line below ground level or place large rocks around the perimeter to slow him down. As with most digging situations, however, spending time with your pet and providing plenty of activity will generally help to curb his energy and desire to dig.