30 Nov, 2022
Our dogs are part of the family, and we love them no matter what, but we can all agree that it is an absolute pain when our pup digs out half the backyard. Most dogs have the digging instinct deeply rooted in their DNA, and this is especially true for Terrier breeds who are known to be notorious diggers. The question is, why do they do it?
One of the main reasons that dogs like to dig is the protection that it provides them from various weather conditions. On a very hot day, you may notice your pup lying inside a hole they dug. The ground beneath the surface is much cooler, allowing them to reduce their body temperature. This is also why they will immediately lie on the floor of your apartment after an outing in the sun. The desire to cool off is especially true for larger breeds with a lot of fur, which heats up far quicker than smaller dogs.
Dogs also may dig when it is very cold, it is windy, or it is raining. The digging is an attempt to be sheltered from these various weather conditions. It proves to be an effective method for shelter in most scenarios, except for when it is raining. Your dog will just need to learn the hard way that a 3-inch hole is not going to solve their problems.
Dogs have an incredible sense of smell, and are instinctively on the search for prey. You may notice that your dog is constantly sniffing around when they are out of the house. If they begin to dig, they very well may have picked up a trace of potential prey, insects, or any other animal-related smell. This instinct goes way back to their wolf days when they were constantly on the hunt to survive. I wouldn't say that our cuddly Jack Russell Terrier has the same issue, but the instinct still prevails.
Something that my Belgian Malinois often does is take a bone that I gave her and immediately bury it in the backyard. Burying food is a method of storing food for later, and an instinct to hide it from other potential animals. The technique works pretty well, as long as they remember where they put it an hour later.
Some dog breeds love the thrill of trying to escape, which is often why they may be digging. The Husky is an excellent example of this. They have a strong tendency to attempt to burrow their way out of fenced areas in an attempt to escape. If your dog has this tendency, it is imperative to ensure that any fenced-in area in which your dog is allowed off-leash is well-secured. The DogPack app allows you to view which dog parks are entirely fenced in, which can certainly assist with the search.
With all instinctual factors aside, digging is simply very entertaining and fun for our pups. Energetic dogs will have a blast trying to dig into China, and rightfully so. We may not be able to dig into the ground, but try to imagine how much fun kids (and me) have digging sand at the beach. Our dogs are no different. They get pleasure from digging and likely enjoy our reaction to the terror they have caused. Our pups' entertainment from digging is especially enticing when they have nothing else to do. Giving them plenty of toys to play with can keep them occupied enough to seriously reduce the amount they dig.
It is important to remember that dogs will be dogs, and there is sometimes no way to get your pup to stop digging entirely. However, there are ways to reduce the amount they dig. The most prominent way is to make sure that they are getting plenty of exercise. This is especially true for high-energy dogs. If their exercise needs are not met, they will make sure to release it by any means necessary. Digging is a great workout, so it is the first choice for many pups. Another idea is to set a specific space for them to explore. A sandbox can be an excellent solution for the digging problem. If the sandbox is the route you proceed with, rewarding them when they are digging in the sandbox is essential so that they understand that this is the "digging zone."
Puppies are often major digging culprits and will become even more enticed by it if you pay a lot of attention to it. Their naughty streak will come out if they know they can get a reaction from their owner. Sometimes the best option in the early stages is to ignore the behavior and focus on training them well. As your puppy becomes more well-trained, its overall mentality will change. Just like the destruction of your apartment will eventually disappear, the rampant digging may very well decrease as well.