You love dogs but you also love seeing your picturesque lawn. However, you see some unsightly holes that your pet dug. These holes can even trip you or your visitors. Your once beautiful and well-maintained garden is now unattractive and full of unwelcomed holes. Can you stop this from happening? What are the things that you should do?
Why do dogs love to dig holes?
First and foremost, before we dive into the solutions, it is important to understand first why your dog tends to dig around your yard. Sure, these holes can lead to the possibility of your dog escaping, or other animals invading your property. Worse, it can even lead to HOA violations and hazards for the people around you.
No matter how negative the outcomes of the digging may be, never punish your dog for it. That is why, to be more empathetic towards your pets, it is important to understand the reasons for these hole-digging. It could be because of boredom and need for entertainment, seeking safety and shelter, need for attention, or it’s just in their nature.
Reason # 1: Boredom and need for entertainment
Just like humans, dogs feel boredom too. If you leave them alone in the yards without the company of humans, all the more without toys, this could lead to boredom. Dogs especially in their early and adolescent years are bursting with energy, and digging is one way to channel this. If they have nothing else to do, all these energies will be directed to digging. Keeping them entertained will distract them from digging in your yard.
If you are around the dog, and you still notice that your canine is digging, it could be that your pet wants to get your attention. If you seldom interact with the dog, digging is one way of getting the much-needed attention, even if it means punishment from the owner.
Reason # 2: Seeking safety and shelter
Another reason for hole-digging is the need for safety and security. It could be that your dog is trying to escape from something or trying to protect himself. If you notice that the digging frequently happens along or under the fence, this could be a sign that your dog wants to flee from something or someone. Huskies are known to dig in order to escape or hunt.
If the digging occurs near comfortable spots such as under the shades of a tree, near water sources, or under your home’s canopy, it could be that your pet is trying to protect itself from the elements. Make sure to not leave your pet outside in extreme temperatures. Digging could be an indication that your dog is trying to keep “cool” by laying on the ground, as dogs don’t sweat like humans. It could also be that your pet is seeking shelter from the rain. The Alaskan Malamute is an example of a breed which loves to dig during freezing temperatures, or to keep cool during hot ones. Thus, it is important to keep your dog hydrated and protected from nature’s elements.
Reason #3: It’s in their nature
Some dogs are more predisposed to digging because of their genes, especially the hunting ones. Terriers such as Austrian, Bedlington, Border, Cairn, Jack Russell and West Highland White Terrier are perfect examples of these. Even though the Jack Russell Terriers look small and cute, its in their nature to dig especially when they are looking for prey. This is also the same with Dachshund, though this breed has small legs, it can still dig a sizable hole.
Other breeds with an instinct for hunting preys such as rodents, which may lead to digging are Miniature Schnauzers, Beagle, and Huskies. Other breeds that are prone to digging are: Alaskan Malamute, Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Chow Chow, Siberian Husky and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.
Some dogs are also somewhat pre-programmed to be possessive of their territories. Some breeds dig holes as a way of marking their territory especially if there are other dogs in the neighborhood.
If you find it hard to determine if your dog has a mix of these breeds, you may try dog DNA tests available online.
Tips to prevent your dogs from digging holes
By now, you already know the reasons why your dog digs holes. It is now time to jump into the solutions. Here are some steps to prevent your dogs from digging holes:
- Introduce exercise to their routine, and keep your dog active so that their energy will be used in a more productive way.
- Do not leave your dogs outside for a long period of time without toys and without human interaction. You may also consider getting another dog so that they can play with each other
- Discipline your dogs the right way. Be careful with punishments as these may be seen as an encouragement for attention-seeking canines. You may use clear warnings such as “no dig”. Use praise when necessary, and consult a professional trainer when needed.
- Get rid of potential prey in your backyard such as rodents, squirrels, and insects. Its trail of smell left behind can attract your dogs and cause digging in that area. You may use products but choose only the ones that are not harmful and toxic to your pet.
- In digging-prone areas, you may use deterrent sprays such as red pepper powder, orange peel or vinegar. Reapply every couple of weeks.
- You may also cover the holes with stones or brick especially if it is a digging-prone area to prevent the dog from going back to that area again.
- Block the digging-prone areas with fence or thorny rose bushes to discourage the dog from digging in that spot again.
- Be creative. You may try landscaping in that area and place rocks in the digging prone area. It will discourage the dog and will make your yard more attractive. A win-win situation.
- Create a digging zone. You can train your dog to go to its new digging zone by filling a wooden sandbox with sand or oil, and burying toys in it. Be sure to praise your dog when digging in your new designated zone.
- Never ever punish your dog for digging a hole, and never stake out your dog near the hole. This may also make the dog feel that it finally got the attention desired.
- Fence or double fence the area. If dogs see something interesting on the other side of the fence, it will only trigger their instinct to dig. You can prevent this by blocking or fencing the area, or double fencing if your neighbor uses a transparent fence. Below you will see different types of fences.
Types of fences
Depending on the breed and size of your dog, and the area that you are planning to fence, you can choose between bamboo, fabric and wooden fences, electric, chain-link and chicken wire fences.
Bamboo, fabric and wooden fences
Bamboo and fabric fences are the simplest option of all. If you already have a fence but is see through, you can use outdoor fabric or bamboo to block their view. This is to prevent them from being curious about what is happening outside. If they do not see those prey, other animals or humans outside, they won’t be interested to dig and escape your area
Wooden dog fences may be expensive or not, depending on the type of wood you choose. Its variant may also impact its durability. Moreover, some kinds of wood, such as cedar, have other benefits such as pest repelling.
Not the fatal electric fences that come to mind. These electric fences, also known as underground fences, are invisible and set-up in the boundary line using underground cabling, linked to your dog’s invisible collar. If your pet reaches the boundary zone, they will get a tiny electric shock, enough to make them afraid of crossing the boundary line again. Aside from the tiny shock they will get, these invisible fences also release a high-pitch noise, which is only heard by your pet. These unpleasant shocks and noise will prevent them from going to that area again.
Chain-link dog and chicken wire fences
This kind of fence is inexpensive. It is also easy to install. However, it is not foolproof as large dogs or those that love to climb can escape from this kind of fence, especially in areas with bald spots and dips. It is good to partner chain-link fences and chicken wire fences. A chicken wire fence, same with chain-link, is an affordable option. Burying this wire below the chain-link fence can make your dog stop digging in that area. Another option is to connect tent stakes to the bottom wire of the chain-link fence.
Remember that before you follow all these steps and try these kinds of fences, it is important to address the root of the problem first. First find out the reasons why your dog digs, it could be physical, mental or emotional discomfort. Once you have pinpointed the cause, it is time to choose the best solution among the ones mentioned.