Why Do Labrador Retrievers Dig? (And How To Prevent It)
Labs are famously enthusiastic diggers. They’ll tunnel under fences, leap into streams to follow the source of a scent, and excavate a new garden bed or backyard snow pile with single-minded zeal.
Why do they do it? What does digging tell us about Labs? And how can we channel their enthusiasm for subterranean exploration into something constructive and safer for them? Let’s explore why they dig and what you can do to prevent it.
If your Labrador Retriever is digging for fun, there are ways to help direct that energy more positively. One way is to provide a digging box for your dog. A digging box, also called a doggie sandbox, is a contained area.
For a Labrador Retriever who loves to dig, a sandbox is a great way to let your dog satisfy his digging urge without destroying your yard or houseplants. The digging box can be as simple as a child’s sandbox covered with a tarp or a wooden sandbox covered with a wood pallet.
You can also construct a more elaborate digging box in the corner of your yard or a large, sun-dappled corner of your backyard. This means you don’t need to prevent it; instead, teach them to only dig in this area.
Male dogs, especially those who are unneutered and intact, use their urine and feces to mark their territory. When Labs dig, they may be trying to leave a scent mark, especially if they’re digging in areas that other dogs frequent.
Some experts say that when a lab resorts to digging at home to mark their territory, this is a stress signal.
Another reason why Labradors dig is that they enjoy it. This is because digging is an instinctive behavior that stimulates their brains and helps them get rid of pent-up energy.
It also gives them a sense of accomplishment which can help reduce anxiety levels by giving them a task that needs completion, like burying a bone or playing with another dog's toys.
Dogs also dig when they are bored or frustrated because it gives them an outlet for their energy, and it feels good on their paws. Labradors also like to dig because they enjoy the dirt and coolness of the ground.
Anxiety Or Loneliness
Despite their intelligence, they can sometimes struggle to find ways to occupy themselves when left alone for long periods. This is particularly true when they're anxious or lonely, which is why many Labrador Retrievers will dig in their surroundings.
The digging behavior is a way for them to occupy themselves and express themselves by creating a new space that they can call their own. Monitor your lab’s behaviors to identify if they feel anxious at all.
Hunting And Exploring
Regarding digging, the Labrador Retriever is one of the best breeds. They are a breed that loves to explore because they have extra-sensitive noses. This means they can smell things much better than other breeds, which helps them find food faster.
However, it's not always about finding food and instead serves as a way for them to explore. They have an instinct to dig, hunt, and explore the area, and breaking this habit requires attention at an early age.
How To Train Your Labrador Retrievers Not To Dig
Dogs are a man's best friend. They are loyal, loving, and always there for you. But as much as we love our dogs, they can be a little mischievous sometimes.
One of their most common habits is digging in the yard. This habit is not only annoying, but it can also cause serious damage to the grass and your garden.
To avoid this habit, you must take the time to train them properly or provide them with an alternative solution, like digging in a designated area of your backyard or even inside the house.
Here are some tips on how to curb their digging habit:
Avoid Leaving Your Lab Outside Alone
The most common reason behind this behavior in dogs is that they are bored and need to find something to do. Digging can also be caused by separation anxiety, which may be why your puppy digs when you leave the house or go to work.
In your Labrador retriever's earlier years, you can begin to eliminate their digging by always monitoring them outside. When they are left alone, it can cause boredom, and their curiosity leads to digging.
Make Sure Your Lab Gets More Exercise
Digging is a natural behavior for most dogs, but it can become frustrating if your dog spends too much time digging in the same spot.
The best way to stop your dog from digging is to give them something else to do. You can train them to do other behaviors like sitting or giving them an object to play with.
You must ensure that your dog gets enough exercise for these methods to work. Play games with them in the yard. This will help keep their mind active and entertained while also preventing them from digging up your lawn.
Try Installing A Digging Box
A dedicated digging box is an excellent way to provide your lab with the opportunity to exercise and stay active while also preventing them from digging up your yard.
The training process is not complicated, but it will take some time to train your lab. This is because dogs are naturally curious creatures and may dig in other areas if you don't give them an incentive to stay in the designated area.
The digging box should be durable and have a cover so that it can be used in any weather. The box should also have a few inches of dirt inside so the lab can feel like they are digging at the ground level.
Use Other Toys To Occupy Your Dog
Lastly, you can introduce other toys that can occupy your dog, like larger bones or toys with squeakers. These are the two most common that require more energy and attention for most dog breeds.
This occupies their mind more while playing, and it's also a toy they can play with alone. So if you’re not around, they are occupied and not running around the yard digging with a feeling of restlessness.
Are Labradors Known For Digging?
Labradors have a natural instinct to dig, which is why they are often used as hunting dogs and can be trained in obedience and agility competitions.
Labradors are known for their digging skills. The breed has been used for centuries to hunt small game and fish, which required them to dig holes in the ground. However, they also have a reputation for being great family dogs.
You can expect the average Labrador to dig more than other dogs. This can mostly be attributed to their energy levels because they tend to be a hyper and active breed.
Do Labrador Retriever Puppies Grow Out Of Digging?
Many dog owners are concerned about whether their Labrador Retriever puppies will grow out of digging. Some Labradors will be more prone to digging than others, and some Labradors will never dig at all.
Labradors that are not provided with a lot of outdoor time or have less energy may be the ones that grow out of digging the fastest. But the key is identifying the habit at a young age.
If you allow your lab to become accustomed to digging every time it goes outside, this will likely carry into their older years. The cause of the digging habit also determines whether or not your puppy grows out of it.
For example, if this is a means of entertainment for your lab, it likely continues until they get more exercise or find other ways to occupy themselves.
About THE AUTHOR
Mark is the founder of Everything Labradors and a husband and father of 3. He enjoys spending time with his family, including his dog Molly, a Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. He’s a big fan of the outdoors and loves to travel to new places.Read more about Mark Brunson