Many dog breeds are genetically hardwired to dig, dig and dig some more. The reasons will vary from one dog breed to the next but when it comes to Jack Russell digging behaviour, the behaviour is necessary to flush out the prey from its underground den. This usually happens in fox hunts of the olden days in England – many will say that it still happens nowadays albeit under a cloud of secrecy because of a stronger awareness for canine rights – with the tradition being carried out in Jack Russell competitions where rats are sniffed out from their dens in a race track.
So, when a Jack Russell starts to dig up the front and back yards, it is normal behaviour for the breed. The pet owner must strike a balance between encouraging the behaviour during competitions and discouraging the action at home. It can be difficult but it is possible.
Here then are the ways to strike a perfect balance. Just keep in mind that each Jack Russell is a unique individual so you may have to tweak these suggestions to fit your own pet.
Know the Cause
The Jack Russell digging behaviour can be attributed to many causes. It may be out of boredom, out of lack of physical exercise or out of aggression, to name a few possible reasons. No matter the causes behind the behaviour, it is the pet owner’s responsibility to take the necessary steps to stop it.
Otherwise, the yard can be the site of many foxholes that pose a grave threat to both human and canine members of the household. Plus, these holes in the yard can be a source of stress because of their ugly effect on the general aesthetic of the house.
Know the Solution
When the cause has been determined, you are more equipped to provide for the solutions to the bad behaviour. Experimentation may be necessary as no two digging behaviours between Jack Russells will entail the same solution precisely because no two Jack Russells are ever similar in all aspects. It is necessary to ascertain the Jack Russell’s personality and then tailor a plan suited to your dog.
There are many solutions to the problem of the Jack Russell digging behaviour. Depending on the cause, you can adopt one or two of the following remedies:
- Place a large sandbox filled with either sand or earth and then topped with lush grass in one corner of the yard. This will serve as the digging area for the pet, which the owner must communicate to the Jack Russell as being so. Take the Jack Russell into the area whenever it appears that he wants to dig and let him have a go at the dirt while praising him for good behaviour. When the dog appears to stray outside the sandbox, tell him off with a firm “No” and redirect him to the place.
- Rebuke the dog with a firm “no” when he is caught in the act of digging up the yard instead of doing so after the deed has been committed. Otherwise, the dog will not associate the digging with bad behaviour since confusion as to exactly what his bad deed was has set in.
- Install shade in the yard especially during the warmer months. Jack Russell digging behaviour can be a manifestation of the canine’s need for a more comfortable temperature for its body. The cool, moist dirt dug up is one way to achieve the purpose. With a shady place in the yard coupled with sufficient supply of cold, fresh water at all times, be it in the form of drinking water or a shallow wading pool, the Jack Russell will be less inclined to drink.
- Provide toys and physical exercise to ward off the Jack Russell digging tendency. With the Jack Russell known for its high level of intelligence and high levels of physical energy, the lack of mental stimulation and physical exercise most often lead to bad behaviour like growling, biting and digging.
When all else appears to fail, you can institute a few negative anti-digging measures. You need not worry as there is no physical punishment and mental deprivation involved in these measures, which include salting the ground with small rocks and ground pepper as well as placing chicken mesh wire around the area considered as off-limits to digging.
Ultimately, Jack Russell digging must be controlled but never completely subdued. Otherwise, the Jack Russell will end up as mentally disturbed as when its digging behaviour was allowed to continue without close supervision from its master.