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Huskies are experts at playing dirty; in the literal sense! If it were up to them, they would live their dream of being escape artists, expert diggers, and the absolute worst landscapers all day long in your backyard.
Unfortunately, that cannot be the case! Training a husky to stop digging can be challenging and can require an enormous amount of patience. Read on for some tips.
Huskies and their innate desire to dig
A Siberian Husky’s inborn desire to dig dates back thousands of years. Living and thriving in the harsh climate of Siberia is definitely not every dog’s cup of tea. Naturally, the Siberian Huskies had a few tricks up their paw to thrive in this climate. Digging was one such survival trick.
Digging shallow holes in the ground helped them seek shelter and provide some amount of warmth in the snowy conditions. Since they also have a high prey drive, they are highly motivated to dig holes to look for other critters.
The most common reason, however, would be boredom. They are high-energy dogs who need to engage in stimulating activities to release that pent-up energy. Digging is not only fun (for dogs) but also an easy release.
The first and foremost step to training a Husky to stop digging is understanding why they are digging in the first place.
Getting to the root cause
Every dog has a motivation behind every behavior. There could be several reasons why huskies dig holes and why they love turning your backyard into something that looks like a party place demolished by giant gophers.
- Temperature – If you live in freezing temperatures and you have an outdoorsy Husky, they may feel the need to dig just to keep themselves warm and seek shelter.
- Anxiety – Anxiety is the root cause of several undesirable husky behaviors, including digging. Dogs in conflicted or nervous states of mind find solace in performing instinctive behavior like sniffing, shaking, digging, etc. While training an anxious Husky not to dig, make sure to find out the root cause of anxiety.
- Bury resources – Burying resources is also a survival instinct adhered to by several breeds. If you happen to stumble upon a bone or a toy buried in your backyard every now and then, you’re dealing with a resource burier here.
- Boredom – A bored dog is a devil’s workshop!
- Rodents – If you have rodents visiting or living rent-free in your backyard, your Husky is just trying to help in his own way!
- Instinct – We can manage to take some behaviors out of our Huskies, but we can never take instincts out of them.
- It’s just fun – Unfortunately, our definition of fun is quite different than our dogs. Some of us may have fun growing and nurturing a beautiful garden in our backyard; on the other hand, our dogs’ definition of fun might be destroying the life out of them!
Further reading: Siberian Husky behavior facts
How to stop a husky from digging in 8 steps
Once you have narrowed down on the root cause of your Husky’s desire to dig, there are several ways to deal with it.
1. Monitor your dog’s play
Control and management are where training and behavior modification begins. If your Husky is likely to perform a behavior in a particular location or situation, watch them like a hawk when they are in that situation.
This will help you figure out the precedents of the behavior and possible triggers that may be causing it. It will also help you correct the behavior in time.
Letting your Husky continue to dig with no intervention whatsoever will only make the behavior worse.
Redirection simply means shifting your dog’s focus from digging to something else like playing, running, training, etc. In several cases, your dog may be digging only because they’re getting rid of their pent-up energies. Other forms of play work equally well in doing so.
If your Husky is habituated to digging in the backyard, be present to redirect the behavior to activities like running, playing fetch, trick training, etc.
3. Provide ample outlets
If your Husky is digging instinctively, it may be tricky to train them out of it. In such cases, providing them with desirable outlets to dig is a better way to deal with the behavior.
Investing in a sand pit for the backyard, and taking your dog to beaches, parks, and other muddy areas to dig are some options to consider. If your dog is getting ample chances to harness their digging instincts, it will be easier to stop the behavior from taking place inside the house or in the yard.
4. Block out access
Preventing your dog from getting into situations where they are likely to perform a certain behavior is a sure-shot way to set them up for success. If your dog chooses to dig in a certain area in the backyard, consider blocking out that space with a gate or a fence.
If your Husky is more of a vagabond backyard digger, have them on a leash. This will enable you to stop the behavior before it happens and redirect it effectively.
Blocking out access along with effective redirection and provision of ample outlets typically work well in combination.
Further reading: Do huskies need a fenced yard?
5. Train your Husky to engage in alternate behaviors and activities
It may be in our nature to yell and correct when we catch our Husky sniffing in an unwanted spot. However, the words “STOP!… No digging!!” is not a behavior. It will not teach them what to do instead of digging.
That is really up to us. Keep an alternate course of action for your Husky ready when they are not allowed to dig.
6. OD on mental stimulation activities
Boredom is one of the major underlying causes of destructive behaviors like digging. A Husky really needs way more than just 2 walks a day. If you have a high-energy Husky, consider investing in a variety of mental stimulation toys and activities like cart pulling, trick training, interactive puzzles, feeders, etc, for them.
A tired dog may not necessarily be a happy dog, but a tired dog is definitely not as destructive. So make sure you are providing mental stimulation for your husky.
7. Help your nervous/anxious dog
One of the reasons your Husky may choose to dig could be their anxiety. There could be a plethora of elements, experiences, or entities in the environment that could be making them anxious.
Separation anxiety, barrier frustration, and noise sensitivity are a few of the many forms of anxiety your Husky may be plagued with. Consult a professional to better understand your dog’s anxiety and remedies for it.
8. Get rid of rodents
Your Husky may just be doing a fab job at getting rid of the rodents in the backyard. However, it’s advisable to let pest and rodent control take over.
Rodents and critters act as motivation as well as rewards for your dog’s digging behavior.
It will take patience and persistence to break your dog’s digging habit. Getting to the root cause and finding a method that works for both you and your dog is a win-win.
Did the above tips help stop your husky from digging?
Let us know in the comments below.
Why do huskies dig holes?
Huskies may dig holes for various reasons, including seeking shelter, escaping confinement, alleviating boredom or excess energy, or engaging in instinctual behaviors like caching food or creating dens.
How can I stop my husky from digging?
There are several tips to stop your husky from digging holes. First, give your husky plenty of exercise so they don’t have as much energy to dig. You can also give them a designated digging area in your yard or discourage digging by covering the dirt with rocks or a barrier. Additionally, you can distract your dog with toys or training exercises to redirect their digging behavior.
What is the root cause of my husky digging?
The root cause of your husky digging could be boredom, lack of exercise, or anxiety. It’s important to understand the reason why your husky is digging so you can address the underlying issue.
How do I know if my husky has a digging problem?
If your husky is digging up your yard regularly and causing damage, then they likely have a digging problem. You can also observe whether your husky is digging excessively or if they have a favorite digging spot.
Can I encourage my dog to dig in a certain area?
Yes, you can encourage your dog to dig in a designated digging area in your yard. You can make this area more inviting by burying toys or treats in it.
What if I catch my husky digging up the yard?
If you catch your husky digging up your yard, it’s important to stop them from digging and redirect their behavior to a more appropriate activity. You can do this by distracting them with a toy or training command.
What should I do if my husky is still digging after trying these tips?
If your husky is still digging up your yard despite your efforts to stop them, you may need to seek professional help from a dog trainer or behaviorist. They can help you address the underlying issue causing your husky to dig.
Should I punish my husky for digging?
No, you should not punish your husky for digging. This can create fear and anxiety in your dog and may lead to other behavior problems. Instead, use positive reinforcement to reward your husky when they display good behavior.
Are Siberian huskies more likely to dig than other breeds?
Yes, huskies are known for their love of digging and are more likely to dig than other breeds. This is because they were originally bred as sled dogs and needed to dig through snow for shelter.
Can I train my husky not to dig?
Yes, with patience and consistency, you can train your husky not to dig. Using positive reinforcement and distraction techniques can help redirect their digging behavior and encourage them to engage in other activities.