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Dog Digging Disasters: Why Dogs Dig & How to Stop Excavations

Dog Digging Disasters: Why Dogs Dig & How to Stop Excavations

canine digging in sand

Digging is a normal canine behavior.

Dogs excavate for a variety of reasons. Dog digging is a natural canine behavior that evolved as a means of survival.

I’m sharing this entry about DOG DIGGING, an excerpt from Dog Facts, The Series 4 (Chapter D) This chapter covers a lot of ground, and here’s the topic list:

Dam, Deafness, Dehydration, Demodecosis, Dermatitis, Diabetes Mellitus, Diarrhea, Digging, Disc Disease, Docking, Dominance, Dreaming, Drooling, Drowning, Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca)

I’ve broken the massive book into discounted treat-size alpha-chapter sections available ONLY to subscribers of my PETS PEEVES NEWSLETTER. Folks can choose which ones they most need. Each chapter will release every other week. Of course, you can still get the entire DOG FACTS book either in Kindle or 630+ pages of print.

WHY DOGS DIG

The dog’s footpads are very thick and callused, and are the toughest area of her body. Dogs use their claws and paws to shovel dirt when pursuing burrowing varmints, to bury food or toys for safe-keeping, and to create nests in the snow or dirt that protect them from the cold of winter, or the heat of the summer. Dogs also dig to escape, by tunneling beneath fences meant to confine them from harm.

Dog digging is practiced by all canines, but terrier breeds live for the joy of kicking up dirt. The word “terrier” means “of the earth;” terriers were developed specifically to dig in pursuit of below-ground prey.

PROBLEM DOG DIGGING

Dog digging becomes a problem when your dog is given no opportunity to indulge the urge; left to her own devices, she’ll often choose an inappropriate outlet. Dogs dig holes in the yard, un-plant your flowerbed or potted plants, empty the cat’s litter box, or even attempt to tunnel through carpeting, upholstery, and hardwood floors. When confined, dogs often scratch at doors or the floor in an effort to get out.

Digging becomes particularly problematic in dogs that are bored, and conversely, digging enthusiasm can be dampened by giving the dog something better to do. First, be sure you provide your dog with at least 20 minutes (40 is better!) of aerobic exercise every day. Burn off her energy by playing games of fetch or taking her on a brisk walk.

Northern breeds like the Husky instinctively dig holes to stay cool...or warm.

Northern breeds like the Husky instinctively dig holes to stay cool…or warm.

DOG DIGGING MOTIVATIONS & SOLUTIONS

If your dog is caching toys or food, then only allow her to have these items for fifteen or twenty minutes at a time. Take them away when she begins to lose interest, and offer them again at a later time. Some dogs bury objects to prevent another dog from stealing them. Give your dog privacy away from the competition if this is the case.

Digging holes to stay cool can be cured by providing your dog with a shaded area out of the sun, such as access to the covered porch or patio. A dog run with a concrete floor and shaded roof will provide a secure, comfortable outdoor area for the dog that can’t be pockmarked by digging.

For hard-case diggers, build a sand box for his legal excavation. A shaded area about three feet wide, six feet long and two feet deep will satisfy most dogs. Let him see you bury one or two of his toys (very shallowly) and then encourage him to dig them up. Get down on your hands and knees and show him by pawing the sand with your hand.

Escape from a fence (aka "boredom") motivates many dogs to dig holes.

Escape from a fence (aka “boredom”) or hearing varmints underground motivates many dogs to dig holes.

LET ME OUT!

Dogs that dig to escape confinement may be discouraged when their holes are filled with bricks—eventually the dog should become convinced he’ll run into bricks wherever he digs. Dogs also dislike digging up feces, so you may discourage a hard-case digger by “planting” his own feces in the holes, and covering them up as a sort of booby-trap.

Indoor dog digging may require more specialized corrections. Provide some distraction, like legal chews or a favorite toy, to give the bored dog something better to do. Put a cover on the cat’s litter box, or move it out of reach. Cover the surface of large potted plants with gravel or larger rocks to make the contents unattractive to canine diggers.

Obedience training is the single most important step dog owners can take to prevent and correct problem behaviors like inappropriate digging.

Does your dog dig? Is your back yard a moonscape of excavations? How do curb the impulse to kick up dirt? Does digging keep your dog’s nails in good shape or do they need frequent nail trims? Please share your tips and tricks so others can help save landscaping and still enjoy their canine diggity dogs.


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