Is Your Dog A “Digger”?

26 02 2009

No, not that groundhog with a camera that Fox Sports has at all of the NASCAR tracks…  Does your dog like to dig either inside or outside of your home?  I want to start off with a few reasons that we dig, and then I will delve a little further into each of them.

Several reasons that for digging:

  • Out of boredom or due to anxiety
  • To form a den in which to give birth
  • To create a cool place to lay
  • To seek out prey, like rats, rabbits, and bugs.
  • To “help” the pack leader-you.  Dogs see their people dig and plant in their gardens and yards.  Some dogs use that observation, coupled with a strong desire to offer assistance, to dig things for you.

dog-digging-2I have written a lot about how dogs are pack animals and require time with their pack, you and your family.  If they do not get that time, they can get bored and that usually leads to some anxiety about not “fitting in.”  If you have a dog already, ask yourself, “Why did I get a dog?”  If you are considering one for the first time, look introspectively about why you want to get one.  You may have wanted the dog initially, but figured out that owning a dog is a pretty big responsibility, so you gave the dog to your yard.  I have never heard a yard ask for a dog!

Intact female dogs are notorious diggers.  They dig in order to create a den where they plan to eventually give birth.  This is easily fixed by having your dog spayed.  Not only will it help address the digging, it can be of great health benefit, as well as a positive way to help fight the dog overpopulation epidemic in the United States.  Did you know that there are currently over 250,000 homeless dogs and cats on right now looking for homes?

When it is hot outside, dogs know that the best place to be is inside with the air conditioning.  I know that is where I stay.  Since that is not always possible, dogs will dig a hole into the cooler ground in order to escape the heat.  After awhile, that hole may become too warm, so they have to dig another place to cool off.  On a long, hot August day, this digging could last all day.

Certain breeds of dog were bred to root and dig in an effort to seek out prey.  They may be digging to flush out crickets, roaches, rabbits, rats, or snakes.  Once the prey is visible and accessible, the chase is on.  If the prey escapes, no problem.  Your little hunter will simply begin looking and digging for another victim!

On really nice weekend days, humans like to have their dogs with them as they dig around in the yard or garden, as they can both enjoy good weather.  Keep in mind, dogs do not understand why a human is outside digging in the dirt.  What we see is a person digging and burying.  Does this remind you of anything?  We LOVE to dig and bury, because it is FUN.  So, when we see you having so much fun with your digging and burying, we are only trying to help out.  See?  We can save you the time of digging it up again.  When you get ready to play the game again, you will not have to dig it up, just bury it!  We will be happy to take care of the digging part. Nonetheless, it is probably a good idea for your dog not to see you bury something, since they may want to dig it up for you.

How can we solve this digging problem?  One suggestion that I have seen work very well is to buy a sand box, however do not fill it with sand.  The cats would take it over as the community litter box.  To keep it cat poop free, fill it with dirt.  Within that dirt, bury some tasty treats, toys, and bones.  Once it is ready to go, go outside with your dog, where you can both dig in the dirt.  As he finds the buried treasures, praise him and give him an extra treat every time he finds one.  Your dog will soon learn that it is no fun to dig anywhere but in the box with you, because that is where the treasures and treats are.

Another suggestion will take some effort and some spying.  First, buy a really loud, annoying air horn.  Then, let your dog outside while you remain inside spying on him or her.  Make sure that your “spying window” is open.  When your dog gets within a few feet of an area you do not want him in, blow the horn out the window!  Make sure that you do not let your dog see you blowing the horn.  The more you do this, the more your dog will come to believe that a loud, obnoxious noise is in charge of this area, and he will move on to a quieter place to play.

It is very important that you do not punish your dog should you catch him digging.  Also, do not make him stay outside in the yard as a “time out” in response to bad behavior.



One response

27 02 2009

Hi Spike, I like to dig just because I can. But, they are small holes and Mom reprimands me. Sometimes I dig the same hole up.

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