Q: “Help! My dog is digging huge holes in flower beds!”
(This question was submitted via the Pets and Their People Facebook page.)
A: There are several reasons your dog may dig in the flower bed. There may be critters such as moles in the flower bed, or they may be one of those dogs who like to hide their toys. Let’s say you have ruled out these two possibilities, there is another reason your dog may be digging.
One of the biggest reasons I have found that dogs dig in flower beds is something called Social Learning. Social Learning is when animals (including humans), learn a behavior by watching another individual doing that behavior. They will then mimic or try to replicate that behavior. This is a cognitive approach to learning and can be great fun for dogs.
In the case of digging in the flower bed, it could be a direct result of your dog observing you doing some gardening. I have one client who was removing plants in her garden and replacing them with new plants. Her dog followed behind her pulling the newly planted plants out of the ground, just as the lady had removed the previous plants. The same can be true of digging holes. In their minds, they are just trying to help you!
So, what do we do to solve this issue?
One of the easiest and most effective ways to stop the digging, is to manage the situation, by adding a cute fence around your flower bed. Another option is to use force-free training methods to teach your dog to stay out of the flower bed.
Digging is really fun for your dog, so another option, is to give your dog an area where he can dig. This can be a corner of your yard, or you can build a raised flowerbed, or even fill a child’s wading pool with dirt for him to dig in. I like to hide fun things in the digging pit: balls, chews, toys, etc.
Whenever your dog starts digging in the flower bed, take him over to his digging pit and encourage him to dig in his personal dig spot.
Regardless of what you decide to do, be patient and have fun teaching him.
Want to dig deeper? If you need help with your puppy or dog, Judy Luther is available for virtual consultations. She can be reached through her website. Judy is also the Pet Professional Guild Canine Committee Chair. Learn more about PPG and how pet parents can join for FREE!
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