How to make a digging pit for your dog.
Digging is something all dogs love to do. It’s a natural behaviour, but it can sometimes be at odds with our love of gardens. In this Holidays4Dogs blog, we provide some hints and tips on how to build a digging pit for your dog.
A few years ago, we went away for a day or so and left our three dogs at home, while a family member stayed with them. When I came home, I was horrified to discover the German Shepherd had apparently been trying to dig her way to Australia. Perhaps in protest of being left at home. The hole, or should I say crater, slap bang in the middle of the lawn, took an hour or so of filling in, raking and re-seeding.
We are sure there are lots of dog owners who love dogs but also love to have a garden that remains more or less intact, rather than trashed.
Sometimes, it can be a difficult balancing act, but it’s not impossible to have a beautiful garden and a dog. You can read more about how to maintain a dog friendly garden, in one of our other Holidays4Dogs articles.
We all know dogs just love to dig, especially terrier and hound types, bred to dig out quarry from underground burrows. Lots of breeds have an innate desire to dig holes in order to make a den, perhaps, as dogs would do in the wild. Some dogs may dig as a means of escaping, while others may dig due to stress, or frustration. It is also common for some dogs to dig holes in order to bury food or other items.
Digging, however, can also be good fun for dogs. It’s a great boredom buster and stress reliever, which means some dogs can become hardened diggers, depending on their breed and lifestyle.
Stopping the behaviour altogether may be a little unfair on a dog that has so much fun digging. After all, digging is a natural behaviour. If you think your dog is digging because he is bored, a dig pit will help. However, this may not be enough for some dogs and you may have to consider other changes to his lifestyle. Perhaps he may benefit from additional exercise or more company.
But, what can you do if your garden is beginning to resemble the surface of the moon? Well, you could build a digging pit and your dog is bound to love it.
Rather than attempting to stop your dog from digging at all, the best solution is to provide his own special area for digging. While you might think this will encourage your dog to dig up your prize begonias all the more; this won’t necessarily be the case if you reward your dog for digging only in his own spot.
First, choose a good place where you are happy for your dog to dig. Behind a shrubbery, for example, would create a natural environment. You could also use trellis, or other screening material, to section off the dig pit from the garden if desired.
Railway sleepers, or some other similar material, is a good idea to contain soil or sand. Children’s play sand is better, as it’s less gritty. Another idea is to use a children’s sandpit or rigid paddling pool. If you bury the play-pit into the ground, you could even build a ‘patio’ around the edge of the pit. By doing this, you can easily sweep the digging material back into the pit.
Once you’ve got the dig pit ready it’s time to encourage your dog to use it. Find some toys, or large treats and put them just below the surface. Place them, so the toy or treat is just visible.
Encourage your dog to retrieve the toys, before hiding them deeper into the pit. Your dog will soon realise he has to try a little harder to find his prize. He will soon understand what the digging game is.
Because your dog will be rewarded for digging up buried treasure, he is far less likely to dig anywhere else. Keep replacing the ‘treasure’ on a regular basis. Your dog will really benefit from the enrichment that digging provides and your garden will no longer need to look like Swiss cheese!