Thursday, June 28, 2007

Destructive Dog Digging

My dog makes me laugh. He usually has little interest in digging, until he sees me doing it. If I dig a hole in one area, I guarantee that if I turn around, he will be giving a hand somewhere else in the garden. So why do dogs like digging so much and why in some cases this can be seriously destructive and requires corrective action ?

Dog Digging - Why ?

Our dogs early ancestors learnt the art of digging from an early age. They learn that burying food for later retrieval, kept it safe from other predators. They learnt that digging dens can help keep cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather. The also learnt to dig out prey that lived underground. So it should be no surprise to find that our domestic friends still have a significant digging instinct. Dog digging is a natural canine activity for which they can find highly enjoyable and therapeutic.

In the case of the domestic dog, digging behaviour can be caused by a number of factors. One thing for sure is that they don't dig your garden up out of spite, revenge or simply the need to be destructive. Dogs are not humans and they do not think like we do.

How do I stop dog digging ?

Understanding your dog's motivation to dig helps in determining the solution to stop or reduce this behaviour. Below are some suggestions to help correct digging behaviours. It is difficult to pin dog digging down to a single cause and to some extent most digging is motivated by boredom or the sheer fun of it. In all cases, punishing dog digging (particularly after the event) does not work and in all likelihood, it will cause anxiety that may make the situation worse.

MotivationSymptomsPossible Solutions
Protection or comfortDogs that spend a great deal of time outside can resort to the instinctive desire to have shelter, a place to keep warm and secure. Usually this would be as near to you as possible, perhaps near your house walls, possibly under windows so that they can hear you. Rarely would this sort of digging be in the middle of your lawnWe never recommend leaving dogs outside for prolonged periods unattended. They are pack animals and need to be part of family life. If they are left outside, ensure your dog has a kennel near the house and possible under a window that is often open. It should not be in the hot sun or cold winds.
Recreation or BoredomFor some dogs, digging can be one of their most favourite things to do. It is one way of expelling unused energy, perhaps from lack of exercise. Other dogs simply love digging, they love the earthly smells, the feel of the mud and dirt, and the pleasure of digging.Refocusing this behaviour often achieves better results than attempting to stop it altogether. Install a digging pit filled with sand. You can start to refocus the digging by hiding treats in the sand. Also, ensure your dogs environment is full of interesting things and toys. Activity toys such as the stuffed Kongs are ideal for outside activity. Have a range of activity toys to rotate to make them seem new.
FoodSome dogs are highly motivated by food. This sort of dog digging usually takes place at the foot of trees and shrubs, rather than at walls or boundaries. The digging can be in a 'path' layout, as the dog attempts to track burrowing animals such as moles.Some say that you should look for signs of underground animals and seek ways to deter them from your garden (at Canine Concepts, we believe all animals are equal and only condone humane methods to 'deter' rather than eradicate animals). Providing other forms of activity (see digging for 'recreation and boredom') may also help. Hiding food treats in a digging pit would also help refocus this dog digging behaviour.
Attention seekingDigging in your presence is a symptom of this. Any behaviour can become attention-getting behaviour if dogs learn that they receive attention for engaging in it (even punishment is a form of attention).Ignore this dog digging behaviour. Give your dog plenty of attention and human interaction.
Seeking escapeUsually involves digging along a fence line.In this case you will need to look at the reason the dog wants to escape. These can be wide and varied and would warrant an article of its own. Some options to prevent digging at the fence line are to bury the bottom of your fence a foot or so underground, or lay chain link fence on the ground and anchor to the fence.

Well, hopefully the above article will help those of you whose dog who just love to dig your garden or lawn.

Disclaimer: Reading materials in this site are obtained from its respective website and it is for information purposes only. It is not Puppy Cottage Sdn. Bhd. view and it is not to be used against Puppy Cottage Sdn. Bhd.

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