Border Collie Digging
As much as you love your Border Collie you can’t help but get angry when you return home to see your garden ploughed up by your dog.
Even more concerning is when you return home to find your Border Collie is missing and there is an obvious hole dug under the fence.
Border Collies are notorious diggers. They love it. However, this does not mean you have to put up with a Border Collie digging problem. It can be controlled.
Reasons for Border Collie Digging
There are a number of reasons why Border Collies dig. The number one reason is boredom. Border Collies are intelligent energetic dogs and they need both physical exercise and mental stimulation. If they don’t get a combination of both they will most likely turn to digging.
If you leave your Border Collie alone for long periods such as when you are at work during the day there is a good chance your dog will start digging out of boredom and lack of social interaction.
By learning to counteract the boredom you can control Border Collie digging.
Other reasons for your Border Collie digging are:
• Digging for bones – it is instinctual for dogs to bury bones to store their food for later and keep it away from scavengers
• Digging to stay cool – this is particularly important if you live in a warm climate, your Border Collie may try to dig down to the cooler earth to roll or lie in it to cool down
• Protection – if you have a female Border Collie she may want to dig instinctually to provide a shelter for her young pups
• Curiosity – Border Collies are always looking for something new to do and your garden can provide potential new items under the earth
• Social reasons – Border Collies love to escape boredom and loneliness by digging under a fence to go and find other dogs or people
Although Border Collies have an instinct to dig, you do not need to let them take over your garden or fence line with digging. There are ways to control this behaviour and you should act quickly before your dog does too much damage. If you see your Border Collie digging, there is something you can do about it.
Stop Your Border Collie Digging
The first, and obvious, way to stop your Border Collie digging is by giving it plenty of exercise daily and providing enough mental stimulation through play, training and toys.
However, many dog owners give their Border Collie lots of exercise and find they still have a digging problem that is ruining their garden. I know from experience that you can be diligent about walking and playing with your dog but then one day you get distracted by work or a family commitment and that is all it takes for your Border Collie to destroy the entire backyard. One day of lapse and you feel like all your previous effort was for nought. I therefore suggest you go further and implement some other strategies in addition to plenty of exercise.
There are three options on how to stop a dog digging:
• Train your dog not to dig
• Isolate areas that you want to keep looking attractive in the garden
• Provide an alternative digging space
You can use a combination of all three approaches.
First: training your Border Collie not to dig.
There are a number of ways to approach training.
If your Border Collie likes to start digging a hole and continue on it for several days you can remove the bones or treasure that it has buried (you must remove them while the dog isn’t looking) and this will eliminate the reward of your Border Collie digging them up again. Alternatively, if your Border Collie is digging in the same area over and over you can place something in there that it doesn’t like, for example, most Border Collies don’t like the smell of their own poop so, as unpleasant as it sounds, you may find that burying some of their own poop in the hole discourages further digging.
You can also train your Border Collie to stop its digging by using a sprinkler system set up in areas where your dog likes to dig. When the dog begins to dig you can turn on the sprinkler to warn the dog away. The advantage of this system is that the dog thinks the garden itself is providing punishment for digging.
Another way to train your dog not to dig is by placing small rocks within the earth where the dog digs. The hard texture of the rocks will deter your Border Collie because of the harsh feeling on its paws.
Second: isolating areas in your garden.
Isolating areas where you want to stop your Border Collie digging is the most reliable method of saving your garden.
To keep your Border Collie away from flower beds or immaculate green lawn you can fence off these areas. Just remember to continue the fence down into the earth so it is not easy for your Border Collie to dig under the enclosure. If you see your Border Collie digging a shallow hole, it is most likely they have only just started and they will continue digging deeper.
Instead of fencing off the attractive parts of the garden you can also make an enclosure for your dog. However, you need to have a big enough area within your garden to make it adequate for your Border Collie to still get exercise and have enough room to play. Border Collies are a large dog with boundless energy so the last thing you want to do is confine their movement beyond what is comfortable. They still need room to run around. If a Border Collie is confined in too small a space they will develop other behaviour problems.
Third: providing an alternative digging space is a great option for your Border Collie.
You can set up a sandbox for digging by mixing earth and sand in a space at least four by four feet and one foot deep. Bury some of your Border Collie’s toys or treats in the sandbox and show your dog how exciting this place is.
If you are keen, you can even plant grass or flowers on the top to make it more appealing to your Border Collie. Chances are you’re setting up the sandbox because you’ve seen your Border Collie digging up your grass or flowers previously.
The advantage of the sandbox is that if you catch your Border Collie digging elsewhere in the garden you can give a firm “NO” and show your dog the sandbox as an alternative. The only limitation on this is that you must only say “NO” when you catch your dog actually digging in the wrong area. It will not work if you say it after the event.