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Lifestyle

Tips for stopping your dog's digging obsession

This cute activity is not always so cute for your lawn.

We all have our habits, no matter the species. Let's face it: dogs like to dig just like humans like to fiddle on phones for hours on end. And just like social media obsession, digging can be an excessive — and potentially problematic — habit for our furry family members. 

While certain breeds, like dachshunds and beagles, tend to want to dig more than others, it's ingrained in many of our tail-wagging best friends. But how much digging is too much digging? When the habit becomes a bit much, and when your lawn starts to become littered with holes, it might be time to reel it in and break the habit. 

What causes a dog to dig? 

For many dogs, digging can be a normal trait that doesn't cause much concern — unless it causes damage. "Some of the behavior around digging can be normal, playful behavior like hunting for bugs or other subterranean critters," Dr. Andrew Armani, chief medical officer with Veterinary Innovative Partners based out of Fairfax Station, Virginia, explains. Other reasons for digging could be just as innocent and downright adorable: "They may be digging a cool resting place in the yard or treasure hunting." 

Dr. Armani adds that some dogs like to dig areas that have just been freshly dug up, like plantings around a yard, while other types of digging behavior can be related to anxiety, and that's where issues can arise. "This can manifest in destructive behavior outside and inside the house," he cautions. 

RELATED: Poisonous house and yard plants that aren't safe for dogs 

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When does digging become a problem?

Beyond the blatant disruption of finding holes all over your yard, digging can have deeper repercussions that hit on an emotional level. "Obviously, if there are a bunch of holes in your nicely manicured lawn, you're not going to be too pleased with your dog," Dr. Armani says. "And that can lead to a disruption of the human-animal bond." 

Clearly, any bonding disturbance isn't a good sign, especially when humans want nothing but to love and celebrate their furry friends. So as soon as digging starts to interfere with that rapport, it's important to take action. 

"If it's getting between you and your dog's love and eroding that special bond you have with him or her, then you should intervene," he adds. "Also, if the digging is causing physical harm to the dog's claws, then that too would indicate that it's gone too far."

What can you do to stop dogs from digging?  

Like prying a smartphone away from a Millennial, getting a dog to stop digging can be a chore, but there's still hope. 

"Discouraging digging can be challenging, but not impossible," Dr. Armani explains. "First, try to identify the triggers for digging — anxiety, new plantings, sleeping spot, etc., then intervene with tricks like putting a layer of dog-safe chicken wire just below the surface of new dirt and monitor your dogs in the yard to stop the unwanted digging behavior before they can start." 

Whatever the reason, be it to find a pesky groundhog or buried treasure, there is a point where digging can go too far. So for the betterment of your relationship with your bestie (and their claws), it's best to keep an eye on the behavior and nip it in the bud as soon as possible. 

The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.

Photo by Oleksandr Horbach on Unsplash

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