Engaged In A Hole-ly War?

Does your yard resemble a war zone, complete with foxholes? Got craters with no way to fill them back up.....and, by the way, what does happen to all that dirt that came out of the hole?? Well, you are not alone! It's a fact - Dogs like to dig and the closer they are to being a terrier, the more they love it. In fact, just about all breeds of dogs who were developed to hunt are infamous diggers. So you think Fido's habits are the "pits" and you've tried to ban him from the area and scolding is a waste of breath? Here's some tips.....

Dogs dig for a variety of reasons. They may be hot and digging into the cool dirt is a way to cool off. Make sure that your dog has plenty of shade - all day. In the morning before you leave for work, your yard might be shady on one side and when you get home, it's shady on the other side. What happens during the middle of the day? Make sure there is a nice cool place for him to get out of the noon day sun. You can also give him a kiddy pool with fresh water daily so he can get in a cool off on those really hot days. A doggy door into an air-conditioned area is the best!

They may be bored. Yes, dogs are living, THINKING creatures and they may be looking for something to do, like investigating interesting smells or looking for moles, etc. Use that big, ole human brain and get creative! Yard toys may be as simple as adding some clay tunnels for smaller breeds to go through, adding a rope hanging from a tree with an old inner tube at the end so he can play a game of tug, providing puzzles like how to get the peanut butter or cheese out of a hollow bone or Kong toys and hiding the Kong or bones so he'll have to play a game of hide and seek first. You know what your dog likes, so design him some games based on his likes. If he's otherwise occupied, he won't be digging for entertainment.

He may be lonesome or smells a bitch in season. Neutering will cure the second part right quick. Unless your dog is a show dog or field dog, your dog is just your pet and companion and there is no reason for him/her to be intact. There are far too many unwanted litters and strays in the world as it is - don't be part of the problem. If he is lonesome, it could be because you don't spend enough time with him. A dog is a pack animal and it's his nature to seek out a "pack". Ideally, that would be you and your family. Taking him to obedience school, hiking, riding in the car, biking, being in the house with you when you are at home - all these things will make him feel a part of your pack. You could also get him a friend - ever consider a rescue? There are plenty of dogs in need of a home and you can locate one through either breed rescue groups for a specific breed of dog, or through the Humane Society or local shelter or even a Greyhound - the local Greyhound track here has an adoption program.

Your dog may just need to expend some energy. Go walking, play ball or toss a frisbee......this also goes back to that "Lonesome Dog" thing. Getting out and doing things with your dog is a great enriching experience....who knows what friends you'll meet and the adventures you'll share? ( That's how I got started....bought a dog, went to obedience class and found a whole new, fun world of dogs and dog folk! )

Still digging? Well, as I mentioned before, some dogs, especially those who are hunting breeds, just GOTTA HUNT! You have to learn to live with it. With Beagles, you can fill up their holes with the yard droppings ( you know, the poop! ) and then fill the hole with dirt. They won't dig there again, but it won't stop them from digging somewhere else! Aside from concreting the back yard - not good for the environment - you can do what I do.....I have the back fenced and that's theirs. The front yard is mine and the flower beds. It's a compromise that makes all of us happy. :-)

Authored and contributed by Sandra Fikes-Kalahari Ridgebacks. Edited for beagles by Ruth Darlene Stewart.