So, you’ve had your garden, flowerbeds and/or backyard tilled so often and vigorously it looks as if you hired professionals — on crack. In reality, the dirty work has been performed gratis your dog or dogs. Ending up with a digger on your hands can be really frustrating. You’ve probably tried all sorts of clever ways to stop it, with or without success, but it might help to understand the behavior — for the sake of your sanity and the life of your pet(s). Here are three digging behaviors explained by veterinarian Dr. Sarah Wooten.
Why Does My Dog Dig Holes?
According to Wooten, digging is actually a deeply rooted behavior traced back to our domesticated canines’ wild ancestors. The instinct stems from the once-common practice of digging dens for safety, giving birth and raising pups. A pregnant dog will still do it today if left outdoors with no other alternative for delivery. They also dig to create cool spots to lay in, but it can also be out of boredom.
Furious digging with no real end game could be caused by pent up energy from lack of exercise or mental stimulation leading to stress. Some dogs, however, may be doing it from another instinctual response of looking for vermin. This is especially true with terrier breeds bred long ago for that purpose. You can’t shake heredity overnight.
Why Does My Dog Bury Bones/Toys?
This also goes back to their wild early days. Burying a bone, toy or anything else your dog deems of value is to keep others from finding it and having it. They are hiding it, in their viewpoint, from other predators or even pack members so that it will be available when they want or need it. Ultimately, it was probably a way of guaranteeing survival. You could liken it to squirrels burying nuts, big cats hauling carcasses into trees or alligators stashing prey beneath a log.
Why Does My Dog Kick Up the Grass After Defecating?
Not all dogs do it, but some dogs will dig up the grass with their back paws after relieving themselves, in essence simulating a rooster scratching. This digging in and kicking up like a rambunctious little backhoe is considered a normal behavior. In the wild it may have been performed for sanitary reasons, like covering up the mess, but it’s also a way to mark territory. All dogs have glands on their feet that secrete pheromones. Each kick releases those chemicals, allowing your dog to mark his or her own spot as they see fit.
Now that you have a clearer understanding of why your pet is digging, it may be a tad easier to bear in the future.