How to stop a Golden Retriever from digging


Many Golden Retriever owners have Golden Retrievers that like to dig. You’ll probably want to know why and how to stop it. This post will show you a number of reasons why your Golden Retriever might be digging and what you can do to stop it.

So, why does your Golden Retriever dig? The most likely reason is that it is in its nature to dig. There are some other possible reasons including to cool down, entertainment, separation anxiety and to escape to next door. 

And, how to get your Golden Retriever to stop digging? You should make sure to give it lots of exercise and attention, blocking off areas that you don’t want to be dug, giving it shaded areas, giving your Golden Retriever lots of distractions, training it not to with “leave it training” and getting help from a dog behaviorist. 

It actually helps a lot to figure the exact reasons why your Golden Retriever might be digging you’ll likely find that it will help you a lot in reducing the behavior.

Possible reasons that your Golden Retriever digs

There are a number of reasons that your Golden Retriever might dig a lot that I will mention below.

To protect food

One of the reasons that dogs would dig was to protect their food. By digging holes in the ground, it would allow them to hide their food away from predators. Your Golden Retriever might instinctively be doing this as well.

To cool down

Another possible reason that your Golden Retriever might dig a lot is that it’s looking to cool down. If your Golden Retriever digs when it is hot outside and it does not have access to shaded areas then the digging could be because the soil below is cooler and it’s looking to lay down in it to cool off.

Entertainment

Since Golden Retrievers were bred to do intensive tasks for hours daily it means that they require a lot of exercise to be properly stimulated. If your Golden Retriever is not getting a lot of exercise daily then the digging could be because it is bored and it is making its own entertainment.

Separation anxiety

The cause of the digging could be because your Golden Retriever doesn’t like being left without you so and its way of coping with it is to dig.

Other signs that this could be the cause is if your Golden Retriever becomes anxious when it notices that you’re about to leave and that it does other destructive things while you are away.

To get next door

Golden Retriever can be very adventurous dogs one possible reason that it is digging is to escape. If your Golden Retriever does the digging near the fence then this could be the reason. If your Golden Retriever is digging near the fence then it is something that will be very important for you to put an end to otherwise it might escape.

Ways to get your Golden Retriever to stop digging

There are a number of things that you can do to get your Golden Retriever to stop digging or to prevent its negative effects that I’ll mention below.

Give it  digging zone

An easy way to mitigate the negative effects if the digging would be to give your Golden Retriever a zone where it is ok if it decides to dig there. To encourage it to dig there you can make the soil there looser, you could put a child size sandbox there and you can block off the areas where you do not want your Golden Retriever to dig.

Give it exercise and attention

Since Golden Retrievers require a lot of exercise to be properly stimulated it is important that you give it lots of exercise every day so that it doesn’t feel the need to entertain itself and become hyperactive.

An easy way to give your Golden Retriever lots of exercise is to teach it fetch. By playing fetch with it you will be able to allow it to do lots of running while not needing to run a lot yourself.

Another way to allow your Golden Retriever to get lots of exercise is to walk it with other dogs. When you walk your Golden Retriever with other dogs they will normally play with each other and it will allow them to expend a lot more energy.

You could also teach your Golden Retriever to swim. By doing so you will be able to give it a lot of exercise since swimming can wear dogs out quickly. It’s also helpful in the summer months since it will help to keep your Golden Retriever cool.

It’s also important that you give your Golden Retriever lots of attention throughout the day. It could be that digging is your Golden Retriever’s way of getting attention from you.

One way to give it attention would include petting it (obviously), but you can also spend lots of time training your Golden Retriever which will also help you to get it responsive to your command which will help you to get it to stop digging when it does.

Block off certain areas

Another option you have would be to discourage your Golden Retriever from digging in areas that you don’t want it to. You can do this by putting in underground fences in the areas or you can block them off with normal fences.

Give it shaded areas/keep it cool

If your Golden Retriever tends to dig when it’s hot outside then it’s likely that it’s trying to cool down. To prevent this type of digging you can give it access to lots of shaded areas and water. You can also try grooming it more often since this will allow for its fur to be more aerated helping to keep your Golden Retriever cool.

Give it distractions

Another option you have would be to give your Golden Retriever distractions that will take its mind away from digging. You can do this by giving it lots of toys to play with. But, be careful with giving it bones to chew since it might decide to dig so that it can hide it for later.

Train it

You can also try training your Golden Retriever to stop digging there are a number of ways that you could do this.

One way would be to do “leave it” training with it. You can teach your Golden Retriever the “leave it” command by applying the techniques in the video below.

Once you’re able to get your Golden Retriever to listen to you when you say “leave it” you’ll be able to say it when your Golden Retriever starts digging and to reward it for stopping and it will teach it that by not digging it will be able to get rewards.

Another option that you have would be to train it to come to you when you tell it to. I have written about how to train your Golden Retriever to come to you when called in the past here.

By teaching your Golden Retriever to come to you when you call it you will be able to get your Golden Retriever to stop digging more easily when you see it.

Get help

If you still can’t get your Golden Retriever to stop digging then you might want to get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so you will be able to get advice specific to your Golden Retriever.

Related questions

Why does my Golden Retriever eat dirt? There are a number of reasons that your Golden Retriever might eat dirt. They can include boredom, looking to satisfy nutritional deficiencies, soothing an upset stomach, smelling food there or simply being an inherited trait.

Why does my Golden Retriever roll in dirt? There are a number of reasons that your Golden Retriever might be doing this. They can include trying to cool off, liking how it feels on their fur, trying to mask their scent, trying to get rid of loose fur, obsession or excitement. 

If you would like learn everything that you need to know about how to have a happy, healthy and well-behaved Golden Retriever, take a look at this Golden Retriever ebook.

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