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What’s That All About – Digging Dogs
Digging dogs (and sometimes cats) can cause major headaches for pet owners. Pet Insurance Australia takes a look at this natural behaviour and explores the reasons why our dogs dig, with some top tips to help prevent and stop problematic digging.
It can be a mind-boggling frustration…arriving home to find your precious pooch excavating a hole in your flower garden or lawn big enough to fit the family car! Digging dogs can create a whole lot of frustration and a whole lot of mess…literally.
But why do our pets like to dig so much, and how can we allow this natural behaviour without the garden resembling a DIY golf course?
For a dog, digging is a very natural behaviour. Some breeds, such as terriers, will have a higher drive for digging than other traditionally ‘non’ digging breeds such as the Dobermann. It’s important when choosing a dog to research what the particular breed was designed for. For instance, many terriers were bred to dig out and hunt down rodents that lived underground. This natural desire to dig can be amplified in these breeds which can spell disaster for your prized flower patch.
However, when given the chance (or discovering the feeling), all dogs will enjoy a good old dig! There are a few top reasons why dogs dig;
1. Highly Entertaining – Can you remember digging in the sand as a child at the beach and how much fun the activity was? Your dog feels the exact same way. It’s pure delight moving soil and sand around and possibly finding ‘treasures’ along the way.
2. Boredom – because digging is so much fun if your dog is bored this is one activity he may exhibit to dig the hours away (WOOF!). When you examine destructive behaviours from a dog’s point of view, they are normally very entertaining. Digging is certainly great fun for a dog. As canines are masters at entertaining themselves, if you do not solve the boredom they will create their own fun, which can lead to holes in your luscious lawn.
3. On the Hunt – Terrier like breeds may start digging because they are looking for possible prey like a mouse or rodent they may hear scurrying beneath the soil.
4. To cool down – some dogs will dig when the temperature is sky-rocketing, and they are looking for a cool place to lie. Digging the top soil will reveal a nice cool damp patch of ground to lie in. Dogs may also dig holes to lie in for security reasons as they feel safe surrounded by something snug.
5. Escape – some dogs will dig around fences in hope of creating an escape route.
6. Bury – many dogs will attempt to bury their favourite things, this can include bones and toys.
The good news is there are some solutions to help prevent and control your pets digging. The end result will vary from dog-to-dog and the key to any prevention is consistency and also patience.
- Exercise – ensure your pet is adequately exercised and trained. Many dogs dig for sheer entertainment and giving your dog a good dose of daily exercise will ensure they are not looking to stretch their joints through digging holes.
- Enriching Environments – take a good look at your backyard. Is it somewhere full of interesting doggy things, or is it a graveyard of old toys and bones? Enriching your pet’s daily environment can prevent issues like digging. Consider giving your dog a ‘job’ to do. Think puzzle and treatballs, hiding toys and rotating toys. Having a good selection of ‘home alone’ toys that your rotate daily can make a big difference. Just remember to remove the ‘home alone’ toys when you arrive home.
- Digging Zone – many terrier owners agree that it’s easier to teach your dog where to dig and where not to dig, than it is trying to stop this natural behaviour. Create a ‘dig zone’ for your pet, and also ensure that you have clear boundaries on the ‘non-dig zones’ – think raised garden beds, and small fences or hedges. Train your pup from a young age. Encourage your pup to dig in a sand-pit and at the beach. This can allow them to differentiate between soil (a no go) and sand (yippee dig time).
- Cool Zones – wet areas under trees (or where your dog typically scratches to lie) to help your dog find a cool spot during the day. Also increase the number of cool zones around your home. Ample shade and clever use of ice can help immensely.