Solving the Whole Hole Digging Problem
There is an easy solution to this behavior. Dogs are pack animals and are therefore social creatures. They prefer to live in a social environment. Being alone during the day is not what they want. The obvious answer is to take the dog to work with you. Dress him in a suit and tie and let him sit at a vacant desk at your office. He’ll probably do as much work as some of your colleagues anyway and maybe the boss is short sighted enough not to realist his presence. Just claim equal opportunity and discrimination and your boss is sure to relent.
Rover would love it.
If that is just a tad on the difficult side then maybe you need some other solutions.
If he wants to dig, then an obvious solution is to provide him with a sandpit to dig in and then specifically to train him to dig in the sandpit. Simultaneously, you should use some gentle discipline to stop him digging elsewhere. I’ll mention more about discipline later.
To train him to dig in the sandpit, command him to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ beside the sandpit. Bury one of his toys in the pit and give the new command ‘Dig It’. Show him where the toy is and wiggle it under the ground to stimulate interest. Praise his attempts to sniff and investigate and praise him especially if he digs at the toy. To make it even easier, place pieces of smelly food, such as kabana, inside a Kong ball and bury the delightful combination. Kong balls are available from vets and pet shops. It is a knobbly, pyramid shaped, rubber ball with a hole through the center – part of the armory of every SNAPO.
Diverting the Digging
The other half of the story is to correctly and gently discipline the dog for any digging in other areas. That can be difficult but there are some useful processes.
Firstly, there are some ridiculous and cruel techniques propagated by some dog trainers for solving the hole digging dilemma. They were published years ago in a book by an overseas trainer and are regretfully still suggested by some. They include filling the hole with water and forcing the dog’s head into the water until it coughs and splutters and leaving a 240-volt electric lead with bare ends in the hole. Needless to say, these techniques are not suitable.
Having provided the sandpit as an alternative digging spot, now, if possible, cover most of the favored digging spots with cheap wire netting to prevent digging. Leave one or two holes free.
Now we get the holes to discipline the dog. One trick is to place your dog’s own feces in the hole. It sometimes works well. Another is to place inflated balloons in the holes and cover them with soil so that they explode when your dog digs. You can set two or three mousetraps, and then place them upside down in the holes and cover them with a soft rag like a disposable dish-washing cloth. Being upside down, they won’t hurt the dog but when it digs they will snap and scare him. The discipline comes from the hole and not you. Brilliant!
To polish this technique, if you are home and hear the bang of the balloon or the snap of the mouse trap, simultaneously shout at the dog ‘Leave’. Then call the dog to you, make it sit and stay and then praise this alternative correct action.
The above processes are useful techniques to stop dogs digging but there are many other remedies too. Be aware that the dog is showing stress and boredom and increasing its quality of life is also important. This involves aerobic exercise, brain work and companionship – a program I term the ABC’s of dog happiness. This technique is covered in another article available through my facts sheets system.
Hole digging dogs usually benefit from my No Bored Dogs Routine. Follow the link for more details.
Summary -Six ways to stop your dog digging holes
1. Temporarily cover target areas with wire mesh or similar
2. Give the dog a sandpit
3. Train him to dig in the sandpit
4. Don’t use harmful techniques
5. Place dog’s feces in hole, our an upside-down mouse traps or an inflated balloon (used with caution)
6. Solve boredom using the No Bored Dogs Technique