Digging comes naturally to dogs - you could say that digging is in the genes.
When asked the question "Why do dogs dig?" the answer could well be "Because they are dogs!" However, some dogs are more prone to digging more than others. Many have been specifically bred to dig, but others are just showing a need for training.

Terriers, the most likely group of diggers, take their name from the Latin word for earth "terra" or the French "terre". Scottish Terriers and West Highland Terriers,
in particular were bred to be efficient digging machines in order to get to vermin. Their turned out feet allow them to shovel earth to the side, in much the same way as a mole. However any terrier is likely to dig - that is what they have been bred for over many

Some dogs like a cool, shallow hole to lie in when it is warm; others will dig a hole to get some protection from Arctic winds. The temperature of the ground can be several degrees cooler just a few inches below the surface, and your dog knows this. Another way of helping your dog cool off would be to add some ice cubes to his water bowl. Remember to place the bowl in the shade so that the ice melts more slowly. When your Alaskan Malamute or Siberian Husky digs a hole to lie in he may be telling you that he is too hot, so check the shading on your kennel area. These breeds know that digging can change the temperature of their bed.

Wild ancestors dug to hide their food so that it could be dug up again in time of need. From their wild ancestry, dogs are never sure that they will be fed tomorrow and, if given the opportunity, will eat enough for today and tomorrow just in case food is scarce tomorrow. If your dog digs to bury bones or food then stop letting the dog take the bones or food into the garden area.

Pregnant bitches could be digging to create a den to rear their pups. Even if they have not been mated, bitches may do this digging whilst experiencing "phantom pregnancy". Do not scold this dog for digging, as she is only trying to do what nature intended her to do. Give her a bit more stimulation in her life, such as going for walks to new places, and if she is to have puppies, now is the time to get the whelping box out so that she can be used to it when the puppies arrive. Some bitches like a den to have a roof when they have their puppies - even a sheet hung over her bed may help to stop her digging another bed.

It is always best then to try and work out why a dog is digging. As some of these examples have shown, often the reason is simple. Dogs that want to escape will dig. Dogs that are hot will dig to try and get cool. Dogs will dig if they detect other burrowing animals like rats and mice. Pregnant bitches will dig to create a den to give birth. But there are other reasons for dogs digging that we may be responsible for, without realizing.

Dogs always seem to want to dig where you have planted trees and dug earth. Sometimes it seems to the owner that the dog just wants to help you with the gardening - but the dog's idea of where a plant should go will usually be different than yours! As fast as you plant, the dog follows you doing some re-arranging. At least that is how it appears! In fact, the odor has changed and this is what is attracting your dog.

By David the Dogman

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