What comes naturally
Dogs enjoy sniffing, chewing, barking, playing and dogs enjoy digging. It’s part of what dogs do. Digging is a species-specific behaviour. Dogs are meant to be kept mentally and physically stimulated throughout their day. Preventing mental stimulation, by not allowing a dog to perform what comes naturally would be denying them to be a dog. Well, that’s downright depressing. A bored dog or a dog who is denied opportunities to express inherent behaviours can develop other common behaviour problems. Thus, providing your dog with appropriate opportunities to “be a dog” will lead to a happier, well-adjusted canine companion.
Managing the act of digging
How does one manage the avid canine landscaper? Create a “legal digging patch” in your garden. You can make a sandbox or create an area especially for him. Fill the demarcated area with different sand or soil from the rest of the garden so your dogs can properly identify their VIP digging zone.
Encourage your dogs to dig in their own patch by hiding their favourite chew toys, balls or smelly treats in it. This will also keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
If they wander off to go dig elsewhere, gently redirect them back to their VIP digging patch and use a cue, like “go dig” and reward them with praise and treats for digging in their “legal” VIP digging patch.
You may need to encourage them initially, but all too soon they will get the hang of it. Keep their digging patch fun and reinforcing for them by keeping it stocked up regularly with exciting tasty treat treasures and toys.
Management is key, do not get upset with them if they get it wrong. It is still a learning curve for them.
Gently redirect and reward with praise and huge amounts of treats whenever they dig in their allocated spot.
Positive reinforcement and daily stimulation is key to a happy, well-adjusted dog.