Dig This!

Does your grey dig?   Mine do.  My first Greyhound Pharaoh was obsessed with trying to get to China.  He would create huge craters in my back yard.  He would lay in them and totally disappear.  When I would step outside to call him in, it would give me a heart attack because I would think he escaped my yard.  I still have a crater in my yard as a memorial to him.  I just can’t fill it in.

Why do dogs dig?  Who knows?  My current grey Phoenix digs on his beds to make them more comfortable.  He has only dug in one spot in my back yard, luckily.  I think they sometimes dig when the weather is hot to escape the heat.  I think also sometimes they just find it fun.  Some dogs dig out of boredom.  They are left alone in their yard with nothing to do.  Digging is fun, so why not?  My friend Jen’s dog obsessively digs going after moles in her yard.  My friend Rochelle’s dear departed grey Nova tried to uncover her house’s foundation.  Despite how your grey’s digging makes you feel, he is not doing it out of spite or because he is angry at you.  The bottom line is that dogs dig and you can’t stop it from happening.  It is hardwired in their brains.

Some hard core old fashioned dog training books recommend using punishment to stop digging.  They recommend filling the holes with water and putting your dog’s head in it.  They also recommend filling holes with stuff dogs find offensive such as their poop.  I have found in my experience that punishment does not work with digging.  You might be able to discourage your dog from digging in one spot in the yard, but he will find some other place, I guarantee. No amount of punishment can prevent a dog from doing a behavior that is hard-wired in their brain.

What I have chosen to do with my dogs and with client’s dogs is to redirect their digging to an appropriate spot.  Since I do not think you can prevent a dog from digging, the best response to a digger is to give them an appropriate outlet for this behavior.  Find a spot in your yard where you can tolerate digging.  Place it near the garbage cans or in a corner behind some bushes.  I chose to give Pharaoh a raised flower bed.  I cleaned it out, put new top soil in and let him go to town there.  He was in Seventh Heaven!

How do you get your dog to dig in only one spot?  This requires strict supervision.  Your dog cannot be out in the yard without you supervising him.  Prepare the spot to make it look appealing to him.  Add some top soil and bury some biscuits or some of his favorite toys.  Lead him over to the approved spot and encourage him to dig.  When he starts, praise him.  If you catch him trying to dig elsewhere, say something to distract him and lead him over to the approved spot.  Be careful not to be too rough in your distraction because you don’t want him to shut down or become timid/scared.

The other thing you can try to do is increase your dog’s exercise.  If he’s too tired, he won’t want to dig.  You can also try to make his time out in the backyard more activity filled.  Play with your grey when he is out in the back yard.  Make sure there are plenty of dog toys in the yard to prevent boredom digging.  I found that putting a weather resistant bed on the deck solved Phoenix’s digging problem.  Why lay in dirt if a cushy bed is waiting for him on the deck?

If you do not heed my warning to supervise your grey and you discover a hole he has dug when you were not watching him, here’s my advice:  get a newspaper and roll it up really tight and hit yourself on the head repeating over and over “I should have been watching my greyhound…..I should have been watching my greyhound…..”   Good luck and happy digging!

Lilian Akin, CPDT

Top | Close

Site designed and maintained by JLP Graffix. ©AFDT 2009