Why do dogs dig?

Posted on January 6, 2010. Filed under: 3. Trainer On Call | Tags: |

I saw the most amazing thing this weekend.  My dog Faith, who is not a digger at all, trying to bury a bone we gave her.  There were so many strange things about this whole event.  1.)  Faith always eats treats we give her right away.  2.) She hasn’t dug since she was a puppy only a couple months old.  She is 10 now, going on 11.  When she dug as a puppy, it was never to bury anything, just playing in the dirt.  So I thought about a question, why do dogs dig? Besides the obvious reason, to bury something, is there a reason a digging response would be triggered?

I found this on the site Pet Library:

“Digging is also a dog’s way of relieving stress and “letting it all out” so to speak. If a puppy is experiencing anxiety levels due to a new baby in the house, a recent move, strange people, or lack of attention, then he is going to dig in order to help himself feel better.”

I tried to apply this to Faith, not much has changed in her environment, definitely not babies, or recent move.  The best I could come up with was the lack of attention in this scenario.  With the upcoming wedding, and Moose’s recent knee surgery, Faith has unfortunately been a little left out.  We have been busy running here and there for wedding plans, and Moose gets physical therapy walks.  Faith often gets left behind on those.  Mostly because of convenience.  Luckily, we have begun to take Faith on a few more walks now that Moose is a little sturdier on his knee.

From Dogs Only, I found some of the reasoning to be, to keep cool, to escape (especially if in heat or trying to find a dog in heat).  These didn’t apply to her situation.  I also saw that sometimes they will dig just to save them for a “rainy day.”  This I knew, but it seems like too easy of an explanation.  Especially since she has never done it before.  Also according to the site, dogs will dig if you use a fertilizer with bone or blood meal in it.  They then can’t resist the smell and will dig to try to find the hidden “nonexistent” bone.

I did one more final search on Pet Place and found something I didn’t think of.  Dogs still have natural instincts.  Even though they are domesticated, they still have these natural instincts they follow.  Often times when dogs were wild, they would kill a prey that was larger than they could eat at once.  They then had to save the nutrient rich bones with marrow for later eating.  They would carry them back to their dens.  This all does make sense in Faith’s case.  We gave her the bone in the morning because we were working on our bathroom remodel.  She never gets treats that early in the AM, let alone a big bone.  She must have been following her instincts and been saving it for later.  She wasn’t ready for another big meal.  We gave it to her only a short time after she had eaten her breakfast.

She was following her instincts.

Watch Faith’s Video!

Any questions, contact me at dbozlinski@petopia.tv

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