Harlequin Haven Great Dane Rescue

Harlequin Haven
Great Dane Rescue

11567 St. Rt. 774
Bethel, Ohio 45106

Open By Appointment Only


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Digging--Is There a Way to Stop it?

Dogs dig for a number of reasons. Some breeds such as the northern breeds--Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes--dig cooling holes and lie in them, while breeds such as terriers have been purposely bred to flush out prey or dig for rodents. With their ability to hear high frequency sounds and their highly acute sense of smell, it is likely that some dogs dig as a direct result of odors or sounds that emanate from beneath the ground. Pregnant bitches dig when nesting. Some dogs dig to bury or retrieve bones. Dogs also dig to escape from confinement.

Digging may also be an activity similar to destructive chewing that commonly occurs when pets are left alone with insufficient stimulation. Digging often occurs during periods of excitement and serves to relieve anxiety. For example, digging associated with anxiety caused by a pet's separation from its human family may be an attempt to escape and join them.

It is sometimes helpful to increase the dog's amount and variety of daily exercise, social interaction and play. Also you must prevent access to the pet's favorite digging areas.

Excessive digging behavior can become destructive, causing damage to carpets, floors, shrubbery, and grass. Excessive digging in the owner's presence warrants punishment. However, unless the cause is identified and dealt with, the digging will likely continue in the owner's absence. Remote punishment--turning on the sprinkler, pulling on an extended leash, a remote electric shock collar, booby traps such as placing chicken wire, rocks or water in the area where the pet digs, or covering the surface--might teach the pet to avoid the digging site even in the owner's absence. These techniques do not prevent the pet from digging in other locations.

Whenever the pet is left outdoors unsupervised, it is essential to provide an appealing alternative activity--or perhaps a second pet--to distract or occupy the pet. Pets that are digging cooling areas or dens should be provided with a cool or warm sheltered area. Pets that are trying to escape and those digging for rodents may need to be confined to a pen or run. The run should be secure and escape proof with sufficient toys to keep the dog occupied. The run could be covered with stones or concrete, but the best for some dogs is to provide an acceptable digging area in the run. It has also been suggested that some dogs dig up flower beds in imitation of their owners. Therefore, pets should not be present during the owner's planting or gardening activities.

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