Archived Message
Digging holes

by Rebecca

This website is really great. There is so much information out here. We have a 8 month old female Maltese named Abby. She loves the outdoors and sometimes we leave her outside in our fenced backyard for an hour or so. She is very excited to run around in the grass chasing birds. Recently I noticed small holes in our yard. Soon after that I caught Abby digging furiously on the ground with her paws. I raised my voice and shouted NO. She stops for a few minutes and then starts digging again. Since I am not always in the backyard with her, how do I teach her not to dig holes. Maybe one of you can guide me with some information. This is the first pet we have owned. So any and all information is appreciated.


Maltese dig. This is a very natural thing for them to do. They dig to escape. They dig to find a cool spot. They dig to bury a bone. They dig because they "dig it". If your Maltese digs, you have two choices. Extinguish the behavior or redirect it.

To do this, you must supervise Abby in the yard. Either with you out there or while watching through a window. When she begins to dig, you must interrupt the behavior with something she will want to avoid. A loud noise perhaps your voice. or try to redirect her behavior.

If Abby loves to dig and you don't mind that except that your yard is a mess, create a Digging Place in a remote area of the yard. Take Abby there and let her see you bury a treat or bone slightly under the surface. Encourage her to dig it up and praise. Do this each day. Bury fun things for Abby to find. Remember to correct her if she digs anywhere but the special place. You are hoping that Abby will dig only in the Digging Place since only there does she get reinforcement (finding neat things) and receives no corrections. Note that escaping behavior will not be satisfied by this method. Hope this helps.

My six month old Maltese, Herald, digs so much that my husband call him "Herald the Hamster". I think it must be a breed thing.

You are very fortunate that the target is the back yard. Mine dig in carpet, floors, the bed, and if I don't move quick enough my legs. We call Jr. the "lean, mean, diggin machine".
-Marsha A.

I have never had a digging problem in the yard with either Cloud or Clancy. Yet they both love to dig at the bed and the carpet.

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