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 When a Yorkie Loves to Dig

Why does a Yorkshire Terrier Dig?

While not every Yorkie will love to dig, many will. The act of digging has been instilled into the breed for many, many generations. 

First used as hunting/ ratting dog, the Yorkie's main purpose in 1800's England was to chase after vermin and dig into burrows.  

During the Victorian Era, this dog breed changed over from a hunting/ratting dog into a sought after companion/lap dog for Royalty and the upper class societies. However, the instinct to dig has somewhat remained.
Yorkie outside
Where do Yorkie's Usually Dig?

A Yorkie will dig in the yard, the sandbox, the park...or just about anywhere that the dog has access to sand, dirt or gravel. They may enjoy making many small holes in the ground or work each day on a larger one. Some may try to dig inside, scratching away at carpeting which can be very destructive.

How do I Stop my Yorkie From Digging?

To help a Yorkie control digging behavior, 3 things must be done:

1) Control the dog's access to area that he may dig
2) Distraction techniques
3) Reward for good behavior
Controlling Digging Access

The Yorkie will not dig holes in a yard if they are supervised and not allowed to dig holes. Any dog, when left alone unsupervised will begin to show inappropriate behavior. The dog is bored and alone ...and will begin to do things to keep themselves occupied.

It is best to always supervise your Yorkie. Even if you have a fenced in yard, if left by themselves, this dog may dig under the fence and then be gone!

When you bring your Yorkie outside to exercise or for housebreaking, do so with that intent only.

If your Yorkie Digs at Indoor Carpeting

It may seem as if it's a deed done in vain, but many dog with strong digging instinct will dig and scratch while indoors. If so, most will choose a flooring that has some give and pull, and wall-to-wall carpeting is usually the victim. This can be quite a problem, since the sharp nails of a Yorkshire Terrier and enthusiastic clawing can quickly cause fraying and pulls that can ruin the rugs.

There are a few things that you can do to get your Yorkie to stop:

1) Increase exercise, by adding one more walk per day and try to add on at least a 20 minute session per day for command training.  This helps a dog release energy (that might otherwise be spent digging up the carpets) and commands additionally will come in handy to control behavior. 

2) If your Yorkie seems to focus on one particular area of carpeting and that spot is next to furniture, take a peek underneath the sofa or chairs... there's a chance that a toy rolled under it and that is the reason he's burrowing away.

3) Keep nails as short as possible. We recommend a small nail grinder; this is very easy to use and nails can be filed as often as every other day.

4) Offer a pile of old clothing, clothes and other items for your Yorkshire Terrier to dig into.  If he's not sure what to do with the mountain of fabric, let him see you hide a toy or treat at the very bottom of it.  To really make it a challenge, you can wrap the toy or treat with one of the cloths and then bury it far down into the pile. If he seems to have fun with this, choose a corner of a room to be his 'digging pile', which may be a lot more fun than scratching at carpeting.

5) If all else fails, you can try an apple-bitter spray. While you can't cover the entire house, if there are certain spots your dog seems to focus on, spritz those areas. 

Distraction Dog Training Techniques

If the Yorkshire Terrier begins to dig a hole and then is offered the choice of: digging or a fun, new dog toy...the dog will usually chose the toy. While it may not be viable to purchase a new toy everyday, there are some things that an owner can do:

Alternate toys. Most owners will have compiled enough dog toys that these can be divided up into 3 or 4 groups. Only 1 group of toys should be made available every 2 weeks. If the dog begins to dig, he can be easily distracted with a toy from a group that is not in use that week. Finding the toy of interest, the dog will usually stop digging to investigate the "new" dog toy.
Yorkie digging in the yard
Dog toys that require a dog to interact in order to achieve a result works wonders. Widely available in pet supply stores, both online and off, are dog toys that have a small opening in which to hide a yummy dog treat. Smelling the hidden surprise inside, many dogs will keep themselves entertained for hours in an effort to retrieve the treat.

Distraction may also be done by enticing the dog into play. A quick distraction of 5 to 10 minutes of play time can make the Yorkie forget whey they were digging in the first place.

Whether distracting with toys or play time, this dog should be rewarded each time they stop digging and do something else in its place.

Nothing teaches a dog faster than a reward for good behavior. Dogs that are yelled at for unaccepted behavior struggle to learn concepts. Puppies that are given praise for good behavior, quickly learn what is expected and love to please their owners.

If your Yorkie is digging and you command an authoritative and firm "NO" and the dog stops digging, offer great praise, hugs, kisses, pats and a small dog treat. Then be sure to offer a dog toy (as described above) as an alternative to the digging fun.

The Yorkshire Terrier is a companion dog. The Yorkie is fun-loving, aiming to please and has a wonderful personality.

A dog cannot do what he is not trained to do. Once this dog is shown that digging is not wanted and they receive attention, rewards and praise for not digging...the Yorkie will aim to please those that matter to them the most : their human family members
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