In our backyard we have decent grass and some nice shrubs for shade. But under one shrub in particular – the one I hate – the dogs have dug two large holes.
Now I have a degree in horticulture and I like nice flowers, landscaping etc. but with 6 dogs it has become too time consuming for us to keep flower beds in this yard. Instead we have the shrubs and some trees for shade.
When I started working with dogs 16 years ago, I had the belief that a dog shouldn’t dig in your yard, ever. It was due to ignorance on my part being an inexperienced dog person. A dog who digs is being willful and naughty. Not sure where I got this information but I believed it anyway.
Now I know that for a dog to be truly healthy mentally, they should be allowed to dig. Not everywhere, but SOMEWHERE. The dogs started digging under this shrub, a ninebark, for those of you who like plants, and because it wasn’t growing well and was a strange shape, I let them dig there. I thought it might perish so I could replace it with another better shrub. It has been about 4 years since they have used it for digging and the shrub is still here. Even our 14 year old Finn likes a good, but slow, dig on occasion. Its normal and natural ad healthful for dogs to dig.
When choosing a place for your dog to dig there are some things to remember.
1. Let the dog have a say in the matter. Not all spots are good to dig in so if your dog shows a preference for one spot try to allow the digging there, if it is not too conspicuous.
2. Prevent your dog from digging anywhere else. This depends on keeping an eye on your dog at all times, and not letting him be unsupervised until the digging in one spot behaviour is well established.
3. If your dog digs somewhere you don’t want, just ignore the behaviour (i.e. don’t scold your dog). Cover the hole and make it so that he can’t dig there again. I place objects over the places I don’t want them to dig. Eventually, you will be able to take the object away.
This year I realized that the bees LOVE this shrub. So we’re keeping it. The dogs can dig for their mental health and the bees can survive on the nectar.