Why Do Dog Dig?

Digging for Prey:

When dogs dig to pursue prey, they're just following their instincts. Their acute hearing and excellent sense of smell make them aware of underground critters such as gophers, snakes, and bugs that we're completely unaware of. Other odors dogs might smell underground are dead animals or long-buried trash. Some signs that indicate that your dog is seeking out burrowing animals, insects, or other buried treasure include a hole in a specific area (rather than at the boundary of the yard), a hole at the roots of a tree or shrub, or a trench.

Dogs who dig for prey can be more difficult to deal with because they're likely to have a never ending supply of varmints, and they're so proud when they present you with their prize. But there are steps you can take to try to rid your yard of moles and other critters.

If your dog is hunting moles or gophers, get rid of the grubs in your yard they're a mole's favorite food. Ask a garden shop for advice on getting rid of these varmints. Avoid using poison to get at moles or insects; it could end up killing your dog instead of the pests.

When pest extermination isn't an option, consider confining your dog to a secure run or an area of the yard that has a concrete, wood, or brick surface. Give him plenty of toys to keep him occupied and perhaps a sandbox that he can dig in. Cover the ground inside the run with gravel, tiles, or concrete so your dog can't dig his way out. Don't forget to exercise him before he goes in the run and after he gets out.

Digging for Shelter:

Dogs are den animals, and many dogs dig to provide themselves with shelter. Evidence of a shelter-digging dog is a hole the length and width of the dog's body.

Dogs usually dig near the foundation of buildings, large shade trees, or water sources. They may dig several holes around the yard so that they always have a shady place to lie as the sun moves. In hot weather, dogs dig to lie in the cool dirt, and in cold weather they may dig to build a barrier against wind. A dog who digs for this reason often lacks a doghouse or has a doghouse that's placed In an area that's too hot or windy. Other dogs prefer to be closer to their owners, so they dig a sleeping hole that's as close to the house as possible such as under the porch.

To remedy shelter digging, provide other options to your dog for staying cool. Move the doghouse to a shady area or purchase an insulated doghouse, set up a large umbrella in the yard, or provide a child's wading pool filled with cool water. This is a great idea for water-loving dogs such as Labrador retrievers and Newfoundlands. If the weather gets really hot, let your dog stay indoors or in a cool basement. Be sure fresh drinking water is always available. In winter, provide the doghouse with warm, clean bedding and change it regularly.

Bruno is blogging about Pomeranian and Mops (pug dogs) at Hundefeber.no.

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