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Destructive Digging: Why it Happens and How to Stop It

Digging Image 300x197 Destructive Digging: Why it Happens and How to Stop It

Digging is a natural instinct, rooted deep within canine ancestry. In fact, because of selective breeding and domestication, some dog breeds tend to dig more than others. For example, “Earth dogs” like Dachshunds and Terriers, were bred to tunnel underground when chasing small animals. Other dogs will burrow to escape both hot and cold temperatures, and many bury items. However, pet parents view digging as undesirable, as it may leave their yard looking like a war zone.

Let’s take a look at some emotional reasons for digging and what you can do to lessen the behavior.

Boredom/Entertainment: Dogs are social creatures, and they need stimulation and attention. They will find ways to release excess energy if left unsupervised, and this may include digging if presented with the opportunity (i.e. being left outside in the yard).

This can be a tricky behavior to change because the dog is rewarding itself through the act of digging. One way to facilitate “healthy” digging is by redirecting the behavior to a more acceptable location.

Digging Pictures 300x223 Destructive Digging: Why it Happens and How to Stop It

Fear/Anxiety: Sometimes, when confronted with negative stimuli, dogs will dig to escape. This is especially true for those confined to fenced-in enclosures. Recurring loud noises and separation can cause dogs to dig out of panic. They view “escape” as the only option.

 

For a concerned pet owner, there are a few options to choose from to modify fearful or anxious digging. Pups may spend the day at a local dog daycare or with a dog sitter. Additionally, simply keeping the dog indoors may curb the behavior.

Other methods of prevention include creating barriers or setting up motion alarms that create loud noises or trigger sprinkler systems when the pup starts digging. To release more energy, dogs should be walked at least twice daily.

If the problem persists, contact your veterinarian to see if they have any advice. If you have a dog health insurance plan, like ASPCA Pet Health Insurance, costs for those treatments might even be covered.

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