My Pet is a Jerk: Digging Edition

If you have ever owned a dog who digs you will know how frustrating it can be!

Each year at Calgary Humane Society we get multiple calls from pet owners desperate to save their flowerbeds from curious digging paws. In addition to being destructive, digging can also become dangerous if your pet digs under a fence and escapes the back yard.


Solving problem digging requires you to understand why your dog is digging. Dogs may dig out of boredom, to create a cool area to lie down or even due to breed tendencies. Discovering the reason for the digging will help point you in the direction of an appropriate solution.


Why your Dog Digs

  1. The bored digger. Dogs who are bored may choose digging as a way to pass the time and burn off energy. Increasing the frequency of walks, providing some high energy playtime and using interactive toys, like food puzzles, are good ways to help bored dogs expend extra energy. Taking your dog to an obedience class or teaching desired behaviours is a great way to add mental exercise into your pup’s routine.


  1. The dog looking to keep cool. In hot weather many dogs will dig holes and lie in them to stay cool. Dogs may also dig holes to seek shelter from wind or to find water. You can make your dog more comfortable (and hopefully less prone to digging) by providing continuous access to fresh water and not leaving your dog outside for prolonged periods of time, especially during extreme weather. Ensuring your dog has access to shade and shelter from the elements while outside is also important, even if they will only be out for short periods of time.


  1. The escape artist. If your dog is digging to escape the back yard you may need to reinforce the edges of your yard or deny your dog access to the spots they choose to dig in. Extending your fence boards 1-2 feet below the grass or lining the edge of the fence with large rocks can help ensure your dog is unable to dig out. Working on behaviour modification is another important method for stopping escapes. Call our free behaviour helpline to speak to one of our behaviour counselors about what strategies might work for your pup!


What else can I do?

  • Reshape your dog’s behaviour by choosing an alternative behaviour to digging and rewarding your dog for this behaviour.
  • If your dog is a determined digger you might consider having a dedicated ‘digging area’, like a child’s sandbox, full of loose sand or soil that your dog is allowed to dig in.


Not sure where to start?

Calgary Humane Society offers a free behaviour helpline to all pet owners. Call 403-723-6019 to speak with one of our skilled behaviour counselors or sign up for one of our training classes.