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Dig into Spring

By Mark Forrest Patrick

With the arrival of spring it is time to think about lawn and garden needs for the growing season ahead. As you make your plans for your outdoor space please keep your family pet in mind. There are plants, shrubs and mulch that are harmful to your pet. If you are not sure which gardening materials are pet safe ask the local gardening professionals or visit for a complete and updated listing. Planning ahead with the proper information can make this a safe and happy summer for your entire family.

When preparing your garden and yard here is a suggestion to save you frustration later. Refrain from allowing your canine companion seeing you dig in the yard or garden. Once your pet observes the behavior, it has given them permission to follow the same activity and behavior.

There are several reasons why your dog may dig here are a few of the most common. A.) Boredom and lack of activity. B.) The environment is not desirable (lacking toys and playmates). C.) Digging for burrowed animals or insects. D.) Seeking comfort in hot weather. E.) Seeking attention by digging in front of you. To address these concerns you will need to get to the root cause of the problem. When you allow your pet to roam and play outside alone the chance of him/her becoming bored and lonely intensifies. Monitor his/her activity and if you observe him/her scrapping on the ground give the command of “NO DIG” and go outside and give him/her some attention with a ball or walk the lawn with him/her. While it may appear that he/she is enjoying their time outside, dogs are pack animals and need company. Include in his daily routine additional exercise and stimulation with playtime outside. Allow your companion to run and play with his toys outside. Some dogs have an excessive desire to dig and in this situation, create an area that is their safe digging zone. The area should be soft sand and/or top soil, if you see him/her begin to dig bring him/her to the area and dig a hole. Encourage your pet to dig in the designated digging area.

If he/she continues to dig in the forbidden areas place chicken wire one to two inches under the soil in the area that he had dug before. When placing the chicken wire under the soil fold the sharp edges under to avoid injury. Place large rocks into the ground around the buried wire, creating a boundary. If the digging continues, keep him/her inside and only allow him/her out during supervised and controlled visits. When correcting a behavior it must be corrected at the time of the activity. If it is after the fact it is too late and your pet does not understand what you are correcting him/her for.

Regardless of what method you take to eliminate and stop the digging, the most important rule of thumb is not to punish your dog for the behavior. If digging continues despite your best efforts contact a professional to assist you with the challenge and address the root cause for the behavior. Digging is an undesirable behavior and if not corrected can lead to serious frustration for pet and owner alike.