Dogs That Dig

Find the cause of your dog's digging and win back your yard.

By | Posted: Sat Mar 10 00:00:00 PST 2001

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And don't forget the power of compromise. Dr. Cooper once stopped a Siberian Husky named Brenna this way. She reasoned Brenna was digging a hole under the solid-wood fence so she could stick her head through and see what was happening on the other side. Dr. Cooper arranged to pour concrete to fill in gaps between the bottom of the fence and the ground, but left one gap so Brenna could continue to see out. She stopped digging.

A common reason dogs dig is outright boredom, experts say. Martha Armstrong realized boredom drove her Beagle, Lucy, to dig like mad and wiggle under the fence to get into the neighbor's yard. "If you turned your back for a second, she would head for the corner and start digging," said Armstrong, vice president for companion animals and equine protection for the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C. "We learned we couldn't let her outside without supervision. ... When she was inside, she was never a digger. She only wanted to be with people."

Many owners let their dog out in the yard and think it's sufficient exercise. Ideally a dog should be taken out of the yard for more rigorous exercise for an hour a day, said Robin Kovary, behavior consultant and director of the American Dog Trainers Network in New York City.

If improving your dog's social calendar doesn't stop digging, turn to a professional. "You may need someone who deals with a lot of these cases, like your veterinarian," Dr. Beaver said.

So is there an absolute cure for digging short of keeping your dog inside all the time? Forget quick fixes such as medication. While rare cases of separation anxiety may warrant anti-depressants, digging almost always is a totally different issue, experts say. And while many may disagree, Leslie Sinclair, DVM and HSUS director of veterinary issues for companion animals, thinks it is a mistake to assume all digging should be stopped. Go with the flow, she said. Cede a portion of the yard to the dog and consider building a 5-by-5-foot sandbox in which you bury your dog's favorite toys and treats. "It's normal behavior," Dr. Sinclair said. "It's great exercise and [your dog] enjoys it."

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Greta   Parma Hts, OH

2/2/2013 11:42:19 AM

This is a good article. I have two greyhounds that dig. They have been smart enough to never do it while I am there. They have a doggy door. I can close off the doggy door but this punishes me more than them. Even so, if it is closed, they still have to go out and I am not likely to stand out there the whole time. The whole digging thing has escalated and the holes now are deep, the amount of dirt thrown out excessive and it is thrown 20 or more feet, making cleanup difficult. Even when cleaned, if it rains, the result will be muddy feet. I have finally fenced off my garden areas with that orange safety fence and some green poultry fence and that is working for now in the winter. I may use some different fencing in the summer and perhaps some 16" x 16" pavers. I used smaller pavers last summer and they threw them around effortlessly. I am also letting them dig by the garage.

Good luck to all digger owners.

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pat   Confusion, MI

5/28/2009 9:54:09 AM

Great information, but quite a few typos.

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