Dogs have been our favorite household pets for a long while, and these four-legged friends are such a huge part of our culture these days. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, and different types of breeds, but, at their heart, they are very similar. Dogs like to be active, go walking, play with sticks, and, of course, dig holes. But, where does the digging of holes fascination come from, and what makes dogs do it?
Well, it’s something we’ve wondered about for a while, and it’s not as though we can just walk up to a dog and ask them! That’s why we have science and experts to come up with hypotheses for us. Now, if you are a dog owner, and you also have a nice garden, this is the article you need to read! You don’t want your lovable canine digging up the lawn, and destroying your geraniums. So, you need to know why dogs dig, and how to prepare for it.
What the experts say
We all know dogs have a love for digging, and this is not limited to the breed and size of the dog. All dogs seem to have this genetic predisposition to dig up soft ground – grass, sand, flower beds, etc. Behavioral experts have linked this back to their ancestors and determined that wolves had a natural instinct for digging. This instinct has increased throughout the generations and is generally linked to predatory urges – digging up the homes of animals that live in the ground. So, it’s not that your dog is undisciplined, it’s actually a huge part of its DNA to dig holes wherever possible!
Well, according to the pros, aside from hunting, there are two principal reasons why dogs might choose to dig, especially in the garden. The first is to cool down. Dr. Emma Grigg, an expert in the field of animal behavior, suggests that dogs dig holes to help them cool down on a hot day. If they are out in the open with no shade, this is a good way of getting shade and cooling down quickly. The other reason, she states, is to stash things. Yes, like the Dwarves of Middle Earth burying their gold for a later date, dogs stash their goodies in the ground to come back for. However, they don’t always return to dig up the goodies – whether or not this is because they forget where they buried them is unclear.
What can you do?
As we’ve established, digging is a part of your dog’s DNA, so there is little you can do to talk them out of it. Punishment is not going to be as effective as you might imagine, and could actually make things worse, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do. One successful technique is to set aside a designated area of the garden just for your dog. He/she is allowed to dig here, but nowhere else, and be sure you make that clear to them. Or, you might find that taking your dog for a few more walks to keep them active and get rid of some of that energy is a good way of stopping them digging up the garden.
Dogs love to dig, just like humans love the sunshine; it’s an integral part of their DNA as animals. Now that you understand why they dig you can do a bit more about preventing them ruining the garden. Understanding your dog and what they need is a crucial part of being an owner and having a happy and harmonious existence with your dog.