At safari animal hospital, we believe a digging dog can wreak havoc on your yard, track mud and dirt into your home, and make you drop everything to bathe them. Worse, if your digging dog is tunneling under a fence to escape, this can endanger them. If you’re tired of your dog’s digging, keep reading to find out how to stop a dog from digging.
So, why do dogs dig and sleep in holes? This natural behavior assists dogs in staying warm or cool depending on the weather and hiding their bones and toys. Some dogs dig holes for fun or to relieve stress, and lying in these holes makes them feel safe.
Understanding why your dog digs is a critical step toward reducing this behavior. Here are some of the common causes of dog digging.
According to one of the most reliable animal vet clinics in Houston Texas, Safarivet, instinctive digging is a behavior that dogs inherit from their wolf ancestors (AKC). To some extent, all dogs dig; it comes as naturally to them as barking or wagging their tails. So even if your dog isn’t a problem digger, you’ve probably seen them “dig” in their bedding or sofa cushions before falling asleep.
Why Do Dogs Dig and Lay in Holes?
Whether you want to protect your beautiful back garden or don’t know what to do when your otherwise innocent dog goes crazy when they see dirt and a diggable area, the first step is understanding where they’re coming from.
Before you can handle or redirect this primal urge, you must first identify its source!
It’s due to genetics
As previously stated, digging is ingrained in the DNA of dogs. While this instinct is present in all dogs in some form, the desire to dig is more robust in some breeds than others. Some dog breeds were specifically bred for their hunting and digging abilities, as they were experts at chasing tiny critters into their burrows.
Humans played a massive role in the development of dogs predisposed to digging holes. Unfortunately, we were left with burrowing professionals after selectively breeding the pups that were excellent diggers.
As a result, the desire to dig has persisted in many of the breeds we have today. Jack Russell Terriers, Dachshunds, Siberian Huskies, Beagles, and other breeds enjoy exploring the most.
Dogs with a strong prey drive are more likely to dig to pursue small animals they can hear or smell underground. This is particularly true for terriers and small hound breeds like dachshunds, bred to hunt rodents and small game.
In hot weather, dogs will dig a hole in the ground to lie down and cool off. According to the AKC, larger dogs with thick coats bred for colder weather, such as the Siberian husky, are especially prone to this behavior.
To Control Their Body Temperature
No matter how much we try to keep our dogs calm and shaded during the hot season, cool water and shade are insufficient, and some dogs will use the knowledge of their forefathers to adjust their body temperature by lying in a hole. Dogs also do not sweat as efficiently as humans, making summer a tough season.
While panting, they use their tongue to cool down. They do have actual sweat glands in their paw pads, [but] that’s not enough to cool them down.
Some dogs have an innate desire to dig, while others have an overwhelming desire to build a den. So while our domesticated dogs may not have needed to make a shelter, their wild ancestors most certainly did. This is also why crate training works and why most dogs prefer to sleep in a dog crate.
Wild dogs would dig burrows in the ground to protect themselves and their pups from the elements, providing them a haven. This instinct is why you might notice your dog digging in his blankets as he settles in, as it is part of their comfort process.
The Dangers of Digging
- Traumatic nail fractures
- Damage in your yard
- Tripping hazards in previously dug holes have increased.
- Exposure to bacteria and parasites found in the soil
How to Prevent Them from Digging
- If your male dog likes to run away, neutering him will reduce his desire to do so.
- Assign an area for your dog to dig. If your dog enjoys digging for fun, a sandbox is ideal.
- Provide an outdoor bed in a shady location for dogs who like to dig to cool off. When you see them digging, direct them to this location.
- Controlling the rodent population in your yard will help reduce your dog’s temptation to dig for prey if you have a dog with a strong prey drive. Also, avoid using poison, which could be passed on to your dog.
- Allow your dog to take treats or toys outside if they enjoy burying them.
- To help reduce the desire to dig, provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation. According to The Spruce, high-energy dogs like terriers require at least 30 minutes to an hour of activity and exercise per day, including walking and playing games like fetch.
By surfing the internet for a veterinary clinic near me, for more professional tips on how to prevent your dogs from digging unhealthily.