Dog Behaviours Explained: Digging

Just a quick thought for the day. You may have at some point wondered why your dog digs in the garden (or neighbour’s flower bed) and buries her toys. It’s a funny, characteristic habit of our canine cousins and so it’s interesting to have an idea of what might be going on in your furry friend’s mind when they do it.

Wolves would naturally dig to cover and protect any excess food, as leaving it out in the open would invite rivals to eat it – or worse still, attract new competitors and predators through the smell alone. When your dog buries their new bone or favourite toy, it could be a throwback to this wolfy survival instinct.

All dogs will dig for one reason or another, with some being more prolific burrowers than others (such as the terrier trying to get down a rabbit hole!). Larger, colder climate dogs with thick coats such as huskies and malamutes are more likely to dig in order to cool down, or to create a hollow in which to rest or sleep.

You will have undoubtedly noticed that your dog digs with her front feet whilst throwing the soil under and behind her, but fills the hole with her nose. If you see your dog pushing her bowl away with her nose after she eats, this could be part of the “digging ritual” and may indicate that she is being fed too much (as she’s saving some for later).

If you’re a keen gardener, you might also have experienced the frustration of discovering that your dog has dug up your beautifully planted flower bed, but try not to be too upset – the variety of scents emanating from the freshly disturbed earth can just be too much for the canine nose! It’s best to keep a separate spot for the determined digger, where they can hide their bones and toys to their heart’s content, whilst your tulips are allowed to flourish in peace.

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