Nice Yard & Nice Dog – Living Together in Harmony!
You’ve just spent the morning planting tulips and daydreaming about how splendid they’ll look next spring. Digger, your beloved canine companion, was at your side watching attentively as one bulb after another disappeared beneath the cool, moist soil.
At noon you abandon the trowel and tulips for lunch, leaving Digger outside asleep under the apple tree. When you return you discover your beloved pet has painstakingly rooted through the entire garden, dug up every bulb, and placed them in a neat pile beside your garden gloves.
Naturally, your first reaction will be to scream at Digger, telling him he’s BAD! But before you do, think about this scenario from a canine perspective.
From a Dog’s Point-of-View
Consider your dog’s breed. Certain species are more inclined to dig because that’s what they’ve been born to do. All Terriers and Dachshunds, for example, were originally bred to dig into underground rabbit warrens or fox dens. Digging comes naturally for them, and it is an extremely pleasurable experience. Siberian Huskies and other sled dog breeds dig because of their instinct to burrow in snow. Pregnant females dig to make a nest in preparation for whelping. Bearing this in mind, how can we expect our dogs to know that this is not a desirable behavior?
Why Dogs Dig?
In the wild state all dog species bury their food to eat later when it is “ripe.” (Translation: rotten!) When Digger unearths your tulip bulbs, he may just be showing you he’s a good provider.
But the most common reason for digging is social isolation and extreme boredom. Dogs left to fend for themselves in the yard-lacking both human and canine companionship-often suffer frustration anxiety that manifests itself in digging or chewing.
To relieve boredom and isolation-related digging, the most effective step is to allow the dog indoors and let him become part of the family. Regular exercise, time for play, crate training, obedience school and spaying/ neutering will also help him become more controllable.
To ensure your dog doesn’t become a digging addict in the first place, keep him busy and distracted with other activities, and don’t leave him alone in the yard for extended periods of time.
Can We All Get Along?
If you know that your dog is going to dig, Matt Culligan, President of Rolling Landscapes in Lemont, IL has some simple steps to keep you and your dog happy.
1) Some dog owners with born-to-dig breeds fence off a small corner of their yard as a kennel where the dog can dig to his heart’s content.
2) Landscape the front of the yard – keep the “doggy area” behind.
3) Create a mulch path that separates your landscaping from your pups.
4) Stay away from perenials – this is the first place they want to dig and the last place you want them to dig!
5) When landscaping, utlize ground cover beds. These are more managable and easier to maintain. By utilizing hearty plants including hosta and day lilly’s; your yard can be destroyed one season and come back flourishing the next!