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Digging Dogs: When Its a Problem and Solutions

Digging Dogs: When Its a Problem and Solutions

Sculpting Tank Traps and the Joy of Digging

I had a digger once, a dog named Ralf who could excavate with the best of them. That pup loved to dig – and I mean really dig. He didn’t just paw at the ground, he sculpted tank traps, hollowed out moats, and quarried for treasure. That dog was a professional excavator, through and through.

Now, Ralf was a 12-year-old working guard dog when I met him, so I figured he’d earned the right to indulge in a bit of digging in his retirement. My beautiful, flat paddock became a minefield of craters and holes, but I didn’t have the heart to stop the old fella from enjoying his simple pleasures.

Of course, it did make mowing the lawn a bit of a challenge, navigating all those bunkers and trenches. But hey, a little loose soil never hurt anyone, right? Well, maybe my backside when Ralf dragged me through a cow field to say hi to the neighbor’s dog. But I digress.

The point is, Ralf taught his younger housemates Amigo and Heston the joys of digging too. It was like a full-blown social contagion of excavation happening right in my own backyard. I tell ya, you can’t un-teach that kind of behavior once it takes hold.

Luckily, the digging frenzy came to an end when Ralf passed away. As soon as that old digger was gone, my garden miraculously returned to its former flatness. No more holes to worry about – just nice, even ground. Ah, the simple pleasures.

Why Do Dogs Dig?

So why do our canine companions feel the need to dig in the first place? Well, it turns out there are a whole lot of interesting reasons behind this behavior. First and foremost, digging is just hardwired into a dog’s DNA. It’s an instinctive, ancestral behavior that they don’t even need to be taught.

Some dogs, like my Tilly, will “dig” in the couch or her bed before settling down. Others, like Amigo, are more interested in scrabbling around to unearth potential prey like rabbits. It’s like a throwback to their wild canine cousins who used to hollow out dens or dig to find hidden food.

But the digging doesn’t stop there. Dogs might also dig to create a cool, comfortable spot to rest, especially in warmer weather. Or they might do it to build a sort of protective den against the elements in colder temps. And let’s not forget the dogs who just love to bury their treasures – whether it’s a favorite toy, a moldy old bread roll, or even that prized “burial bone” that gets passed around my household.

Digging can serve all sorts of purposes for our four-legged friends. It’s a way for them to satisfy their natural urges, pass the time, and express their inner excavator. Kind of like how kids love playing in the sand at the beach, you know?

Dealing with the Digging Dilemma

Now, if you’ve got a dog who’s really into the whole digging thing, it can definitely become a problem. Ralf’s tank traps might have been amusing to me, but I know most folks wouldn’t be too thrilled about having their yards turned into Swiss cheese.

The key to managing a serial digger is all about understanding the root cause and then addressing it accordingly. Is your pup trying to beat the heat by digging for a cool spot? Maybe providing some shade or a cooling mat will do the trick. Is Fido burrowing to build a cozy den against the cold? A proper outdoor shelter could be the solution.

And let’s not forget about those dogs who dig to bury their treasures. If you take away their stash-worthy items, you might just eliminate the need to dig in the first place. Simple as that!

Of course, there are some dogs who just dig for the pure joy of it – like my old pal Ralf. For those pups, constant supervision and redirection are key. The moment they start pawing at the ground, you’ve got to swoop in and distract them with a toy or a game. It’s all about breaking that self-reinforcing cycle before it really takes hold.

Escaping the Yard: Securing Your Space

Digging isn’t the only problematic behavior we dog owners have to contend with – there’s also the issue of escape artists. You know the type – those pups who are hell-bent on busting out of the yard, no matter what.

Now, younger puppies are typically less prone to this kind of thing, as they’re usually more interested in exploring their immediate surroundings. But as they hit adolescence and adulthood, that urge to roam can really kick in, especially if they’re bored, hormonal, or just plain curious about what lies beyond the fence.

And it’s not just the boys who get the wanderlust – females can be just as determined to make a break for it, especially if there’s a potential suitor involved. I remember this one village I visited where the entire neighborhood was overrun with escaped pups, all thanks to one guy who let his unsterilized females roam willy-nilly. Talk about a recipe for disaster!

Breed can also play a big role when it comes to the likelihood of escape. Some dogs, like the livestock guardians and herding breeds, have had that “chase” instinct bred right out of them. But more independent, hunting-inclined pups? They’re a whole other story.

Creating a Secure, Enriching Environment

If you’ve got a serial escapee on your hands, the best solution is to create a truly secure and enriching outdoor space for your pup. I’m talking fencing that’s at least 2 meters high, with mesh or inward-sloping panels to keep even the most determined climbers contained.

And don’t forget about that double-gate entry system – it’s like an airlock for your dog, keeping them safely inside no matter who’s coming or going. Pair that with a nice, grassy, temperature-controlled run, and you’ve got a veritable doggy paradise that’ll keep even the most adventurous pup right where they belong.

Now, I know what you might be thinking – “But won’t my dog feel penned in?” Well, let me tell you, every dog’s home is just a bigger, prettier version of a pen. And when you compare that to being consigned to a life on a measly 10-meter chain? I’d say a secure, enriching outdoor area is a pretty darn good deal.

Of course, no environment is 100% escape-proof, so a long line is a must-have for those times when your pup is outside with you. And while some folks might be tempted by those shock collars or electric fencing, I’ve got to steer you away from those. Especially for anxious or fearful dogs, those aversive tools can do more harm than good.

Redirecting that Digging Drive

So, you’ve got your escape-proof yard all set up, and now you’re wondering how to curb that incessant digging. Well, my friends, the secret lies in redirection and enrichment.

Instead of trying to fight that deep-seated digging urge, why not give your pup a designated digging zone where they can excavate to their heart’s content? Just set aside a nice, spacious area filled with their preferred digging substrate – be it sand, soil, or something else entirely.

And don’t forget to make it visually appealing too. Add in some rocks, toys, or even a shallow pool to really pique their interest. That way, whenever the digging itch strikes, your pup knows exactly where to go. It’s a win-win for both of you!

Of course, you’ll still want to keep a close eye on your digger, ready to redirect them the moment they start eyeing up your prize-winning flower beds. But with a little patience and some creative enrichment, you can channel that instinctive behavior into something more positive.

After all, a well-exercised, well-trained dog is far less likely to turn to digging as a source of entertainment. So make sure you’re providing plenty of physical and mental stimulation – whether it’s a vigorous game of fetch, a challenging nose work session, or even just some good old-fashioned bonding time.

At the end of the day, our canine companions are hardwired to dig, but with a little creativity and a whole lot of understanding, we can help them channel that drive in a way that works for both of us. And who knows, maybe you’ll even discover a newfound appreciation for the simple joys of getting your hands a little dirty.

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