If you’ve exhausted all your options and your beloved pup is still digging – don’t worry, there are still a few other things you can try. Here are some of Nicole’s recommendations:
1. Change the habitat. If your dog is struggling to be happy in the yard, then change their life in the yard. Give them something to do. Play hide-and-seek, or plant treats around the yard so they can sniff them out and find them. (One of my trainers calls this a sniffari.) Let them use their nose and engage with the yard in a different way.
TIP: If your dog is struggling to find the treats, help them with some problem-solving. Teach them a solid sit-stay, and show them where you’re hiding the treat first. Release them to go find it. Pick the same spots every time so you can ultimately hide quite a few treats without your dog seeing before releasing them to hunt.
2. Add a sandbox. Grab a kid’s sandbox or baby pool (these are a little easier to find after the panic of the quarantine has died down and the weather cools), and dump a whole bunch of sand in it. You can also hide their toys in the sand for them to find.
TIP: You may have to help them the first few times to encourage digging in the sandbox. Dogs can struggle with object permanence, so help them dig up their toy and show them that fun things happen in the sandbox.
3. Lay down some chicken wire. For our compulsive diggers, new mulch and dirt are especially exciting. Before you mulch, put down some chicken wire, since dogs will usually stop when they hit the metal. This is for gardens only, as it’s not feasible for the entire yard, but may work for the perimeter as well.
4. Spend time out in the yard with your dog. If your dog has built up an association that going into the backyard means leaving you, then they may develop digging as a coping mechanism. Spend time out there with him to build up more positive associations with the backyard.
5. Avoid getting a second dog just to try to solve problems with the first dog. If you want a second dog, by all means, bring her home. But if your goal is just to use the second dog to try to ease some of the issues with the first dog, your better bet is to start with the behavioral issues of the first dog, then go from there. A second dog can be a wonderful companion, but won’t solve everything.
And that’s all this trainer has for now! Give these tips a shot and let us know what works for you!