What do you do if you have a Digger?
Finding the motivation for your dog’s digging will help tailor the solution to your problem.
The possible reasons and/or motivations why your dog digs are:
• To disperse existing scents
• To leave a scent mark of their own
• Environmental protection
• Play: because objects they find are interesting
• To search for or find an animal that they can hear or smell
• They are curious and no one is paying attention to them
• Burying items: to extricate something to eat or chew on
All dogs require protection from the environment/weather in and around your home, such as:
• Seeking cooler temperature in the dirt: dogs cool by putting their belly on soil
• Protecting themselves from harsh wind, exposure from the sun, rain or cold
• Dogs can dig holes in dirt to create a cave-like environment. They curl up so they can stay warmer than they would if they were exposed
What to do:
Ensure there is adequate shelter for your dog by providing the following:
• Dog-house (kennel)
• Trees and shrubs to provide cooling shadows
• Plenty of fresh water
We recommend placing at least 4 different water sources that cannot be tipped over
Expect dogs to provide their own fun if they have not been provided adequate environmental enrichment suited to their breed, age and physical and mental needs. While digging, dogs discover roots of trees, rocks, old bulbs etc. These are all objects that enrich the dog’s intellectual and olfactory environment. Many of these objects ‘play back’. Dog owners generally tire quickly when they play a game of tug with the dog – roots of trees ‘play’ without tiring.
What is environmental enrichment?
Environmental enrichment is providing all pets a stimulating environment to allow them to exercise, choose their preferred environment and to enhance their well being.
Providing environmental enrichment is just as important as providing your dog appropriate nutrition and veterinary medicine. Enrichment can be provided in many ways:
Introduce other animal scents into your dog’s environment. This can be achieved by taking a rag to a dog owning friend to rub their dog’s scent onto it and leave the rag randomly in the backyard for your pooch to seek out.
Playing the radio or soothing music in the background can stimulate your dog. Try natural sounds and animal sounds played back.
Who said you had to feed your dog in a bowl?
Present your dog’s feed in a variety of ways such as a simple puzzle feeder, hidden throughout the back yard, scattered around the back yard, or buried in an appropriate and approved location. To get the food, your dog must use their natural foraging behaviours and/or mentally solve the puzzle.
Various items placed in your backyard allowing your dog to investigate and explore naturally. These items could be water or sand pits, durable balls, chew toys etc.
Dogs often dig just because they are curious. Dogs that are very social, curious or active may just be exploring their environment when they dig.
If your dog is trying to escape it can be for many reasons, such as:
• They want to get somewhere
• They want something, or
• They are trying to get away from something
For you to effectively manage this type of situation, you will need to work out WHY your dog is trying to escape so you can implement the appropriate management tools and training aids to help.
Are some breeds likely to be diggers?
Many dogs dig because they were bred to dig. Fox and rat terriers, such as Jack Russell Terriers, were developed to track, chase and kill earth-dwelling animals.
For these dogs, consider taking up earthdog trials.
Panting Paws Behavioural Training