By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Many dogs tend to dig but unfortunately, it may appear as destructive behavior, especially if it occurs on your lawn or in your garden. But remember, your dog is never doing this out of spite or anger. It is, in many breeds, an instinctive behavior but often, it’s due to a need not being met.

There are several reasons why dogs tend to dig. Many times it can occur out of boredom. Dogs need both physical exercise and mental stimulation. Just like humans, dogs need mental challenges. So along with a daily walk and playtime, spend some time teaching your dog a new command or even a new trick, play fetch or if your dog likes the water, swimming provides good exercise.

Spaying and neutering your dog is not only healthy for your dog but can also reduce the instinctive desire to dig. A female dog may feel the need to provide a den area for puppies whether she is pregnant or not.

If the need to escape is the reason for digging, then seek out what is frightening your dog. Is your dog spending too much time outside alone? Is there food, water, shelter provided? Sometimes your dog may be seeking relief from the heat as deeper layers of soil may be cooler. Also, if you use bone or blood meal to fertilize your garden, the scent may be irresistible.

Keep in mind, too, that dogs love to save and sometimes hide their possessions. So if that’s the cause, turn that instinctive behavior into an appropriate positive one by designating a special area where your dog can dig by providing some sand or loose soil and praise and treat for that area only.