Does your yard resemble a lunar landscape full of craters? Then you must own a Husky that loves to dig holes. Why do some huskies love to dig as much as they do? In today’s article I tell you why these dogs dig and I give you some tips on how to keep the Husky excavations under control.
Understanding The Drive To Dig
In nature, digging by dogs serves an important purpose. One only needs to look at a wild canid pack to see how much wild canines rely on their digging skills to survive.
Canines dig to:
- Find water. If there is no stream nearby then the keen nose of the canine can detect water under the ground. The dogs will dig a hole until they hit ground water. In the cold temperatures they will dig a hole through the ice to get to a water source.
- Follow the scent of burrowing animals or insects. If there is snow on the ground, they will dig through the snow and ice to get to food sources.
- Build dens that they can burrow in for safety from the elements, from attack from other animals, and to bear their offspring.
- Create pits in the shade to lie in to help them stay cool when they are hot.
- Relieve boredom. Digging is a fun activity for them to do.
Husky Paws Are Nature’s Perfect Digging Tool
If you look at the paw structure of the Husky, you might notice how perfectly their paws serve as digging tools. They have sturdy paws with naturally webbed toes to help keep them on top of the snow when they run. These webbed toes can also really scoop and throw the dirt and snow as they set to digging a hole. And at the end of those toes you will find some very thick, strong nails. These nails can stand up to digging through hard packed earth and even ice. Everything about these Husky paws makes these the perfect digging tool.
Eliminate The Reason For Your Dog To Dig
The best way to stop your dog’s digging is to eliminate the reason why they are digging the holes.
Are they hot?
If you provide them with some shady spots where they can get away from the heat they may not feel the need to dig a pit to lie in. If they like playing in the water, try giving them a wading pool with a few inches of water in the bottom of it to help keep them cool. *Did you know that Huskies and Mals remove heat from their bodies by “sweating” through their paw pads? Many Snow Dogs love to stand in cool water, dirt, or mud when they are hot because cooling off their paw pads helps them to feel cool.*
Are they digging for rodents or insects?
You may need to eliminate the pests in the yard so they stop digging for them. Make sure that you use safe non-poisonous methods for getting rid of those pests.
Huskies are a working breed of draft dog that were bred to run. When they are not given adequate breed specific physical exercise they will become bored and they will start looking for things to keep them busy. Hole digging and chewing are boredom busters for Huskies. So if you don’t want your yard to resemble a moonscape, make sure that your Husky gets plenty of vigorous daily exercise. A tired husky is much less likely to have the energy to be bored and destructive.
Are they getting enough attention and human interaction?
Far too many people get a Husky or Mal thinking that they will just relegate them to living in the back yard and that way they don’t have to deal with issues related to toileting, chewing and destruction, or dog hair in the house. Keeping these dogs only confined to the outdoors seldom works. They love people and they want to be with them.
Unless you have working dogs that have a job pulling sleds or urban mushing vehicles every day and then the dogs are kenneled out doors for the evening, relegating a dog to the back yard will only most likely only cause the dog to find it’s own amusement. Bored and attention starved dogs will trash your yard and anything that they find in it. They will also find creative ways to break out of their confinement. Know what the needs of these dogs are and strive to meet them. It is part of being a responsible dog owner to this breed of dog.
Do they have adequate chewing surfaces and toys out there in the yard for them to play with?
Both domestic dogs and wild dogs naturally spend many hours a day on chewing activities to keep their teeth clean and their jaws strong. Dogs also chew for stimulation and to alleviate anxiety and frustration. If you give your husky adequate and appropriate chewing items they may not resort to digging holes to amuse themselves.
Are they digging to escape the yard?
This is related to them being bored, not getting enough exercise and mental stimulation, or because they are not spayed or neutered. Huskies will not be content to be sequestered in a back yard behind a fence. If they are not taken on daily walks or if they do not have adequate opportunity to regularly greet and sniff other dogs, they may decide to escape their confinement to find their own Husky adventure. The local rescues always have a surplus of stray Huskies who have done their best Houdini impression. If your dog is unaltered, consider fixing your pet to keep his hormones from spurring on his need to break out of the yard.
Are they digging because they really like to dig?
Sometimes there is nothing you can do to stop them from digging so you may as well give them some place appropriate to dig by building them a sand or dirt pit. Build a 3 foot by 6 foot doggy “sandbox” for your dog in a shady area of the yard. Fill it with enough sand or dirt that so that your dog can dig a large deep pit. You can even bury treasures for them to find in the sandbox. You will have to be vigilant about sending them to their area if you see them digging in a non approved place.
Huskies Will Dig Under The Fence
You can prevent dogs from digging under the fence by:
- Making sure that fencing goes down into the ground. A fence that is buried two feet down into the ground is less likely to be dug under.
- Blocking the base of the fence with large rocks or paver stones to keep them from digging under the fence.
- Placing concrete or large rocks under the fence for the whole length of the fence.
- Burying chicken wire a few inches down under the earth. When the dog tries to dig under the fence, they can only dig down a few inches before encountering the chicken wire.
Use Deterrents To Make Digging Unpleasant
While punishing your dog for doing what comes naturally to him is not advised, there is nothing that says that you cannot try using a safe deterrent to make digging less pleasant for him.
Bury feces in the hole
Unless your dog is a poop eater, digging in his favourite hole will be a lot less appealing when he encounters his own poop. I have used this method in the past and it did work as a deterrent. The only problem is that they will probably abandon this hole only to start on digging a new fresh hole.
Bury large rocks in the hole
You can add large heavy rocks in the hole and then bury them. When the dog tries to dig in the hole the rocks impede the process. This does nothing to keep them from digging new holes.
Fill the hole with water to create soupy mud
This will work if your Husky does not like getting his paws wet or muddy. There are some Huskies who have no problem digging and playing in the mud.
Blow up a small balloon and bury it in the hole
As they are digging and hit the balloon it makes a loud pop as it explodes. The loud noise is associated with the act of digging so it can act as a deterrent. Please be very careful that your dog does not swallow the broken balloon.
Set up your sprinkler near the hole
As soon as the dog comes to dig, turn on the sprinkler. This only works if your dog hates to get wet. Of course playing in the sprinkler may just distract him from wanting to dig in the hole.
Use canned air to add an unpleasant loud SSSSHHHHT sound when he approaches the hole. This too only works as long as you are standing there.
Remember digging holes is a natural activity for dogs. There are things you can do to curtail this activity or at very least direct it to a not so objectionable spot but digging is just too hardwired an activity to eliminate in some Huskies.
As always, we welcome your comments, questions and your stories regarding this topic. When we share our stories we may well be helping someone who is struggling with their Snow Dog.
Helping ALL Snow Dogs … one owner at a time.