Dog behaviour 101: Why does my dog love digging up my precious flower beds and lawn?

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Dog behaviour 101: Why does my dog love digging up my precious flower beds and lawn?

The best thing about being a pet parent is discovering your dog’s weird and wonderful personality bit by bit. And, any dog parent will tell you that having a dog in the house can be an interesting experience. While we love our little scamps they do get up to mischief and mayhem and often we can’t figure where this naughty behaviour comes from. But don’t worry, we’re answering your most burning questions in our new Dog’s Life series on unexplained doggy behaviour. Next up,
why does my dog love digging up my flower beds and lawn?

There’s no question about it; dogs like to dig. It’s in their nature - especially if they’re inquisitive. For dogs, digging can mean many things and the tendency to dig and bury items is especially strong in terrier breeds. In the wild, dogs dig to hide food or uncover food but also for shelter or relief from the heat. So consider that your pup might be following his natural instincts when at home. But that’s not all - your dog could also be digging out of fear or stress. Perhaps there’s something in your yard that is causing your dog distress and he is trying to escape it? Unfriendly neighborhood dogs or cats as well as natural events, such as thunderstorms, can all cause a dog to get digging. Believe it or not, dogs also dig to supplement their diet. They could be lacking certain minerals in their diet and so dig holes in the hope of finding them in the soil in your yard.

No matter the reason your dog is digging up your garden the trick is to address the underlying problem and not the result. Of course, to a dog, there’s no difference between digging in your beautifully preened flower beds and a sandy beach and the bottom line is you'll need to train them to get them to stop digging. Try and catch your dog in the act and say; “no” then distract him with a toy. Try not to scold your dog or give him too much attention when he’s caught in the act as this will only help to show them that digging gets them attention from their pet parent. And, if your dog is digging to get attention or to deal with boredom them they will continue to dig, dig, dig to get attention from you - no matter if it is good or bad attention.

Try to get to the root of your dog's digging habits and then address the problem by either giving him a more relaxing space to enjoy outside, more attention when you’re at home, or simply take him for more walks to get out and beat backyard boredom. Another trick, if you’ve got a dog who was born to dig, is to install a sandpit for your dog where he can dig to his heart’s content. Bury some of your pup’s favourite toys in the sand as well as some treats and the next time your dog looks like he’s ready to get digging simply move him over to the new sandpit and watch him have fun digging out the treasures you’ve planted. Once your dog gets digging in all the right places then reinforce your dog's good behaviour with a treat or by showering him with attention. Chances are, in just a few short weeks, your dog won’t even think about digging in the flower beds again.

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