If your Boxer is turning the backyard into an open cut mine, it sounds like he’s being left outside alone for long stretches.
So there’s the problem — and the solution.
Digging in Boxers is usually a cry for more:
- mental stimulation
Want your Boxer to stop excavating the garden?
Give him something better to do.
A Boxer that goes for a good walk with you first thing in the morning, chases the frisbee for twenty minutes at night and spends a couple of hours during the day chewing a raw meaty bone is not going to be digging up the yard.
Throw in five minutes of obedience training here and there, or teaching a new trick… add a snuffle mat or a puzzle toy and your dog suddenly has litle time or inclination for mischief.
Why Does A Boxer Dog Dig?
A Boxer dog digs for several reasons including:
- digging is a natural part of being a dog
- to follow a scent
- it’s fun
- to relieve boredom
The first three reasons can all be managed by simple supervision and training.
In other words, when your dog begins to paw at the ground, tell him to stop, and redirect his attention to something else interesting. It’s easier to stop digging before it starts than to break a habit.
It’s the last reason — boredom — that is the root of more destructive and ingrained digging behaviors.
What A Boxer Dog Needs
Boxers are not outside dogs. Nor are they great at being left alone for hours on end. And they are certainly not the kind of dog that is content to just lie around all day long with nothing to do.
Boxers are police dogs, military dogs, guard dogs, search and rescue dogs, hunting dogs… The point is, they have a LOT of potential and they are happiest with a job to do and role to perform.
Boxers need to be with their people, and they need plenty of outlets for their mental and physical energy.
Provide that, and the digging will subside.
Easier said than done?
7 Ways To Stop A Boxer Digging
Take a look at your dog’s daily routine.
For starters, see whether you can:
- Exercise your dog more
- Give your dog something to chew
- Engage your dog in more mental stimulation
- Involve your Boxer more in your daily routine
- Build your dog a sandpit or take him to the beach
- Consider a dog walker or dog daycare
- Install a dog camera
The idea here is to not only give your dog more exercise generally, but to time it strategically.
Tire him out before you leave him home alone and he’s going to be ready for a snooze in the sun.
Raw meaty bones like lamb necks are best.
Aside from the copious nutritional benefits, devouring bones is a psychologically satisfying activity for carnivores.
Remember, the bones must be raw, and non weight-bearing. Never give cooked bones to a dog.
Dehydrated bully sticks are a decent choice if you must use a processed treat. Go for the ones that are dehydrated, not cooked and that use no chemicals or preservatives.
Games, puzzles, tricks and training are all great mental exercise for a Boxer.
Tasks where he has to think and figure things out will tire out a dog faster than pure physical exertion.
Involve Your Boxer
Can you come home for lunch?
Can you add a 5 minute tug session here, a game of catch there?
Even a brush of his coat for a few minutes is good, positive attention that reminds your Boxer he’s loved.
It’s often said that you can give a digging dog a sandpit or somewhere he’s allowed to dig.
But this assumes the digging is for digging’s sake.
Sure, it might be.
But there’s also a fair chance you build your Boxer a sandpit and he still prefers to uproot your daffodils or unearth your sprinkler system.
A sandpit would be great fun to play in with you around, but it may well miss the mark if what you’re trying to prevent is digging when you’re not around to say “play over here in this designated spot”.
However, the actual beach is always a great addition to any Boxer’s life.
Working beach sessions into your week can provide an appropriate outlet for that digging instinct.
The pure joy Boxers derive from the beach is hard to beat.
Dog Walkers And Doggy Daycare
Other common recommendations for counteracting digging are to hire a dog walker or send your pup to doggy daycare.
Consider these options carefully before deciding they’re right for your dog.
Entrusting your dog’s care to strangers always involves a level of risk to your dog.
There are no shortage of unscrupulous operators in the dog daycare industry and a lot can and does go wrong in these settings.
Even having a friend or relative come around during the day for a walk or play session mightn’t necessarily be the right approach.
Depending on your pup’s temperament and how well they know the visitor, a drop-in without you there can sometimes leave a dog more disrupted than settled.
A dog cam that allows you to watch what your dog does when you’re not there will help you understand your Boxer and to know how the digging arises.
A camera is also a great tool for getting a grip on other signs of boredom or distress like barking, ripping up the couch or counter surfing.
Are Boxers Known For Digging?
Boxers are certainly known for being active, inquisitive, fun loving dogs.
When a character like that is left to get bored, lonely or not given enough exercise and mental stimulation… he is creative enough to make his own entertainment.
So, if a Boxer is digging, pay attention.
Your dog is trying to tell you something.
What Not To Do When Your Boxer Dog Digs
Avoid the temptation to:
- punish your dog
- put dog repellent sprays on the yard
- buy more toys
- chain or tether your dog on concrete (or at all)
- get another dog “for company”
- expect him to “grow out of it”
Punishing your dog when you come home to discover holes will not work.
Your dog lives in the moment and will not connect the digging of the hole he did at 9am this morning with your rage at 6pm.
Trying to discipline him after the fact, even by taking him to the hole, will only confuse him and undermine your relationship with him.
If you catch him in the act, there is value in saying “No” or “Uh uh” and redirecting your dog, but delayed reactions are pointless and unfair to your dog.
Dog Repellent Sprays
These are chemicals you do not want to be spraying on your dog’s environment where he will inhale and even lick them.
Many owners find they don’t work anyway.
Toys are great when there’s someone there to play with you.
On their own, they’re inanimate objects that will quickly lose their novelty.
Interactive canine enrichment toys like puzzles and snuffle mats are a different matter. These will work to engage your dog as he sniffs out hidden treats.
Nose work is both tiring and relaxing for dogs and Boxers can be extraordinarily scent-driven.
Tying Up A Boxer
This is one sure way to crush a Boxer’s spirit.
No dog belongs on the end of a chain, but especially not a Boxer.
Boxers are prone to overheating and need to be able to move out of the heat and sun at will.
In fact, their brachycephalic head structure makes them so prone to overheating and breathing difficulties that they actually need to be able to retreat indoors to an air conditioned space in Summer.
There are other things to consider.
Boxers left unsupervised outdoors are stung by bees at an alarming rate.
This does not always end well.
Hives and facial swelling sometimes escalate into anaphylactic shock and death.
Getting Another Dog
If you are struggling with behavior problems in your existing dog, it’s not the time to think about another.
While Boxers can absolutely benefit from another dog in the household for company, getting a second dog to try to fix issues you have with the first is sort of like having a baby to try to save a failing marriage.
Deal with the issue you have, otherwise you risk magnifying it.
Rest assured, if one Boxer is a wrecking ball… two can be a full category five hurricane.
“Oh Well, He’ll Grow Out Of It”
Your dog may well grow out of the digging.
But there’s a long time between now and then, and in the meantime you’ll both suffer.
The digging is a symptom of an underlying problem, and your dog shouldn’t be left to endure it ..until he finally accepts it.
If you don’t address the cause of the digging (probably loneliness, boredom and excess energy), the digging may soon turn to escaping, which can quickly turn to getting hit by a car, or stolen.
Digging in a Boxer dog is not just a random occurrence that happens for no good reason.
Your dog is not “being naughty”.
He is making the best of his situation.
You must see digging as part of the bigger picture of your dog’s life.
What is not right? What is he not getting enough of? What changes could you make?