Dear Sarah

Our little Jack Russell has an issue with digging. We used to have a beautiful garden with great lawn – it’s all been dug up! What can we do to stop this behaviour?

Luke F

Hi Luke,

Digging is one of those normal dog behaviours that drives us all nuts – especially as it creates such a mess! So here’s a few tips that might help with that digging behaviour.

1. Make sure that all of your dog’s needs are being met. Are they getting enough exercise? Are you spending enough time with them? Are they getting out and about, and investigating the world around them? Pent up energy, boredom, frustration and a lack of other things to keep them occupied can often result in undesirable behaviours like digging – so rule that out first.

2. As well as boredom, dogs can dig for a variety of other reasons: to keep themselves cool (by lying in the cool soil they’ve just exposed), to get to lawn grub or other critters in the grass, to bury food or other items, because of breed tendencies, or simply because they love the activity. Determining why your dog is digging, can help to determine what to do about it. A dog trainer or canine behaviour specialist can help you get to the bottom of why if you aren’t sure.

3. If the reason is to keep cool – try providing them with an alternative cool spot, especially during summer. If it is to get to the lawn grubs you have living in your lawn – treat those to get rid of them. If it’s to bury food – perhaps look at feeding smaller meals more frequently, or provide smaller bones that can be eaten in one sitting, rather than being buried for later.

4. If the reason is because of breed tendencies, or because they simply love it (tick both boxes with a Jack Russell!), then providing them with an area that they are allowed to dig in can help to channel the behaviour in a more appropriate direction. You can create a digging area with a kid’s clam shell and some sand, hiding small morsels of food or a bone in it – so that the area where you want them to dig provides them with some buried treasure to find. Providing them with a digging area often works well to give an outlet to the behaviour, and saves your garden in the process.

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