Bred as a sporting and hunting dog, Labrador retrievers are high-activity dogs who want to jump, run and dig -- with the latter causing possible damage when it becomes excessive. While training can help change behavior, the key is to keep Labs too busy to get into trouble.
Keep your Labrador retriever exercised. Digging expends energy in this breed; if he is walking and playing vigorously throughout the day, he doesn't have the energy needed to dig up the yard. Besides running in a fenced-in yard or playing fetch, make him work for a treat -- such as digging it out of toys -- or allow him to play with other friendly dogs.
Keep the Lab mentally stimulated so he doesn't get bored and begin to dig. A new toy that requires some thinking to use can keep him occupied. If he is alone during the day, a dogwalker or "doggie day care" facility can keep him occupied and seeing new things. A hard plastic child's pool allows him to play and cool off in his own water toy; throw a few floating toys in to grab his attention, as well.
Make sure your pet is comfortable, and not digging out of a desire to reach cooler ground. Some labs who find heat too oppressive dig a trench simply to lay in a hole to lower body temperature. If the dog is doing it in colder temperatures, it may be out of a desire for a wind buffer or to stay warm.
Create a specific area of the yard -- such as a sandbox or old flowerbed -- where your Labrador retriever is allowed to dig. This requires patience and training to make him understand that this is the only spot where digging is allowed. Squirting him with a hose when he goes elsewhere can assist in teaching him that digging anywhere else is not tolerated. Throw a few of his toys in this area, or a Kong filled with treats, to give him the idea that this is his playground.
- The additional benefit to a well-exercised Labrador retriever is good health; dogs who do not exercise enough are prone to health issues such as obesity and heart problems.
- Excessive digging can also be a sign of stress, which could be from outside factors -- such as a new family routine or pet in the house -- or internal factors, such as failing health or old age.
Lori Lapierre holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science in public relations/communications. For 17 years, she worked for a Fortune 500 company before purchasing a business and starting a family. She is a regular freelancer for "Living Light News," an award-winning national publication. Her past writing experience includes school news reporting, church drama, in-house business articles and a self-published mystery, "Duty Free Murder."