Upon bringing your Jack Russell Terrier home, you may find that he’s a little more hoodlum-like than you thought. This is normal. He is a hunting dog, primarily, so he has a lot of the tendencies that he was bred for, including digging.
It’s understandable that you don’t want your Jack Russell Terrier digging up your backyard, and there are ways to deal with the compulsion, but you have to understand that your dog is going to always have that natural tendency to dig. It will be a lifelong battle to help him live peacefully with you. Here are some tips to help you out.
Understand why he does it
The first step to dealing with your dog’s digging problem is by taking a look at the reasons as to why he is digging. There are several big ones to consider – other than his natural compulsion in regards to his breed – so, try to see if any line up with your lifestyle:
Looking for entertainment
Looking for attention
Looking for comfort
Looking for escape
Looking for protection
The first two points on this list can be fixed fairly easily. You all know how lively Jacks are so if they are not properly entertained, they’ll find something to do. If they are alone in the garden, it’s pretty likely they will choose digging. If this is your case, be sure you exercise your Jack a lot and don’t leave him alone in the garden. Removing him from the things you don’t want him to do, gives you peace of mind and you can be sure he’s out of trouble.
Giving him a toy of two probably won’t make a difference as they won’t be as fun as digging. Attention from you will help his compulsion to dig, too. So if he’s doing it while you are around, firmly say “No” and redirect him to the behavior you like – play tug with him, chase ball or do tricks. If your dog is looking for comfort, it’s usually because of missing you, and wanting to do something to deal with that emotion. This can also be solved by spending more time with you dog.
You will know your dog is digging for escape purposes if you see him digging near the fence line. This means that something outside of the fence has caught his attention and he wants to chase it. To solve it, don’t let him be alone in the garden and when he is out, play with him and revert his attention from the outside stimulus to yourself.
Try doing tricks with him or set your own little agility course. Lastly, your dog may be digging for protection. If you notice your dog lying in the holes he digs, that’s probably the reason behind it. He is looking for protection from the hot or old weather, and the hole is providing him with that.
Exercise and spend time with him regularly
A huge part to controlling his urge to dig is to make sure that he gets plenty of exercise and lots of time with you, his beloved owner. Remember that Jack Russell Terriers are active dogs that want to move a lot, so spend as much time with him as you can. Take him for long walks, play with him in the backyard, spend some time chatting with him.
He may not be able to understand you completely, but he’ll understand that you are spending time with him, and he will love that. The key is to make sure that he gets lots of stimulation, both mentally and physically. Attention and exercise are the keys to help here.
Interrupt the bad behavior
If you catch him digging, interrupt him with saying “No digging.” in a stern voice, and revert him to a desirable behavior and praise him for doing something you like. He may not get it the first couple of times, but he will eventually understand what you want him to do and what you don’t. If you do this each time you catch him in the act, he will eventually catch on.
Try obedience school
Obedience school may give both you and him a great way to bond together. Their programs are designed to make sure that both owner and dog get to spend some valuable time together and teach you how to train your dog.
Additionally obedience school gives him something to do with his time, so he’ll get some stimulation from it as well as some professional training that will help you and him bond in a great way. Practice in your free time what you learned in the obedience school as practice makes it perfect.
Give him a specific digging zone
If your dog is insistent on digging despite training against it, consider the option of giving him a place to dig in. This could be an old sand box, or a sectioned part of the backyard that is just for him. Make sure he knows what the spot means, and when he digs in that spot, make sure you praise him and give him a treat.
He’ll understand, then, (as long as you keep up the interruptions when he digs elsewhere) that he is allowed to use this space to dig and enjoy himself. This could really help him.
Understand his needs
Lastly, you have to understand that your Jack Russell Terrier is going to dig. It is just part of his personality, and you need to be aware of that from day one. Yes, you may be able to retrain him in the sense of obedience and with a digging area, but that urge to dig will never truly go away the way you want it to.
Don’t take his digging urges as he’s being bad, he just does what he’s supposed to do, so take action and prevent this behavior with the one you like and let him dig while you’re on the walk outside your garden.
Digging in your yard can be bothersome and cause a lot of trouble, but you have to remember that your Jack Russell Terrier is an active dog that needs to do something with his time. If he isn’t exercised properly or taught what to do that will hold his attention, he will chew things and dig holes and drive you crazy in the process.
Take care of his physical needs by taking him for walks lately, and you’ll see a huge change for the better in how your dog respects you and your garden.
Do you have problems with your Jack digging up your garden? Or you found a solution that works wonders for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.