When it comes to natural dog behavior, for many Brittanys, digging is on the list of favorite pastimes. Unfortunately, for Brittanys who share their lives with humans, digging is often considered a “no go” activity.
Brittanys dig holes in the dirt for a variety of reasons:
- To explore the environment
- To relieve boredom and/or stress
- To escape an enclosed area
- To create a cool spot to rest
- In pursuit of ground-dwelling critters.
- It’s fun!
Prevent digging in the first place
The best way to address digging is to prevent it altogether. Avoid leaving your Brittany outside unsupervised until you’re confident he can self-entertain without digging. Examine your yard to identify the areas with prime digging potential, such as spots with loose dirt or gopher mounds or damp areas that invite digging. Of course, some Brittanys will decide to dig anywhere, but reducing the temptation makes it easier to direct your Brittanys attention to more desirable behaviors.
Provide your Brittany with enrichment
It’s also wise to take an honest inventory of your Brittanys overall enrichment. Does your Brittany leave the house and/or yard every day for a walk? Is it always the same route? Do you mix things up with some training while you walk? If your Brittany is confident in public, does he ever accompany you on errands to new (dog-friendly) places? Brittanys often dig because they’re bored. Be honest about what else he has on his agenda in a typical week and see how you might spice things up a bit.
How to stop a Brittanys established habit of digging holes
Here are some things to try if your Brittany has already made a habit of nuisance digging:
Make a Digging Pit – Fill a kid’s sandbox or plastic wading pool with sand or dirt. (Sand makes less of a mess than dirt.) Bury your Brittany’s favorite toys. Excitedly show him the pit and help him uncover the prizes. Remember to replenish the toys hidden within the pit and repeat the process of helping him uncover the treasures. As he gets better, the “hides” can become smaller and harder to find.
Digging random holes? Try replacing most of the dirt in the hole, collect some of your dog’s feces to add atop the replaced dirt, and top it off with the rest of the dirt. For some Brittanys, digging for fun – and finding feces – takes the fun right out of digging! You’ll probably need to do this a few times as your Brittany experiments with digging new holes, but for many dogs, the consistent experience of uncovering feces will help them rethink their backyard behavior – especially when paired with your efforts to give them better things to do.
What to do if your Brittany digs under the fence
For fence diggers, we recommend digging a trough along the fence and lining it with heavy, upright stone pavers.
We recently discovered a product called Dig Defence, a galvanized steel product resembling a giant comb, and is designed to be pounded into the ground next to and under a fence, providing an underground barrier for digging. It comes in 36-inch lengths with a range of “teeth” lengths and distances between teeth (smaller gaps for smaller dogs, and wider gaps for bigger dogs) and is effective at preventing a dog from escaping through a hole he’s dug next to a fence. It would be cost-prohibitive to line your entire fence with these panels, but if your Brittany keeps digging in just one area, this might be the solution. See digdefence.com.
Most importantly, remember that behavior doesn’t change overnight. You’ll need to be consistent in your efforts to reduce your Brittanys digging via a combination of training and management, and you should expect it to take up to a few months of consistency before you see significant improvement. Don’t dig your own hole deeper by giving up too soon!