Understanding your dog’s desire to dig

 

Many dog parents have been frustrated when their four-legged friends start digging holes around the yard or at the dog park.  While digging is a natural behavior for many breeds, understanding why your dogs are digging is important to managing their behavior.

According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) there are several reasons why your dog may enjoy digging including:

  • Genetics: Some breeds, particularly hunting dogs such as terriers or hounds, are bred to dig out prey from their dens. Your dog may be digging if you have gophers, chipmunks, or other small animals in your yard. Some dogs just enjoy digging to look for prey even if they never catch anything.
  • Stress Relief: For many dogs, digging is fun and a great way for them to reduce stress. If you have a very active digger, he may be bored or suffering from separation anxiety. He may be using digging as a way to get mental and physical stimulation to help curb boredom and anxiety. Try some canine enrichment activities such as training, food puzzles, games, and nose work to provide physical exercise and mental stimulation.
  • Escape: For some dogs, digging is a way to escape. The fence around your yard may be too high to go over, but that means dogs may try to dig a tunnel and make their escape under the fence instead. If your dog is trying to escape the yard, it may be due to boredom or anxiety so finding other mental and physical activities may help reduce the need to dig an escape route.
  • Denning: It is a natural instinct for many dogs to seek the shelter of a den. With the warm temperatures in Florida, digging a hole provides a self-constructed den that can be used to cool off and a shelter where the dog feels secure.
  • Burying Treasures: Dogs often dig so they can bury items they want to save for later such as their favorite toy, or they may be digging to uncover something they buried in the past. If you want to curb this behavior, try taking the item away from your dog before he has a chance to hide it away. If this is something your dog really enjoys, you may want to consider giving him his own digging pit and encourage him to bury his treasures there.

If you have concerns about your dog digging, consult with your veterinarian or a certified dog trainer to understand why your dog is digging and how you can modify the behavior.

As reminder, if you utilize the Celebration Unleashed Dog Park, it is your responsibility to fill in the holes dug by your dog before you leave the park.  Rakes and containers with fill dirt are provided in the park so fill in those holes to keep the park safe for our furry friends.

 

The above article appears in the June 2019 edition of the Celebration News

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