Dogs dig for several reasons and in order to understand why your dog digs, you need to know these reasons.
1. Boredom - Dogs like to dig, plain and simple. They like to dig in mud, feces, water, and even gardens.
2. Temperature - Dogs like to cool off in the heat by digging to a cooler, damper surface belograss. They will lie in it and just hang out!
3. Feels threatened/Hiding valuables - We see this happening when we dog owners take things from their dogs without giving something in return. It starts as a puppy and progresses as an adult. When you start taking things as a puppy they learn really quickly that when they have something of value, it will be snatched. This makes them feel insecure about their valuables which then makes them start hiding their toys/valuables by digging holes and burying them.
4. Hunting rodents - Some breeds were bred to dig out rodents that burrow beneath the ground. Digging is in their blood and you will not take it away from them. You can only embrace it and provide a digging outlet for it or These dogs will dig your couch up, your carpet, your walls, anything they feel like digging, they will. I have a client who had a dog dug/chewed a hole through her floor and was underneath her house inside of another hole that the dog dug. It was like a den. Some dogs have that innate desire to dig out a den and lay in it.
5. Scent - Dogs possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in ours. In other words, they smell literally everything. Search & Rescue dogs can smell a human's footstep on someone's lawn, 24 hours after they stepped there.
What you need:
Empty Sandbox for kids (they have plastic ones at the store) Boards or some type of barrier so you can make the area stand out to your dog. Fresh Dirt.
What to do:
Encourage digging in this area [the dig pit] by actually digging yourself, hiding bones, throwing treats in this area. MAKE. IT. FUN. or Turn it into a training session. You should also mark and reward your dog for digging in this area and do your best to ignore your dog or prevent your dog from digging in the other areas by covering those areas up or blocking them off to prevent further digging. If you leave those areas uncovered or unblocked and you let your dog around those areas then do not be mad when your dog continues to dig there. It is considered your fault for allowing the dog out there when you KNOW 100% that the dog will dig. It is also considered setting your dog up for failure.
Practice every day. This is a skill. You can even put this on cue so that you can have your dog go and have fun in the dig pit when you need them to, not just when they want to.
So, now that you know all of this, try to be a little more understanding of your dog digging and know that they aren't doing it to get back at you for leaving them outside or getting back at you for taking their favorite toys away.
If you have a dog that digs, leave a comment! Would you take a dog training course to teach you how to get your dog to dig in one certain area?