Destructive digging: Cathy's tips!

Stopping destructive digging!

You arrive home after a long day to find bits of your rose bushes strewn around the garden… countless holes greet you each day and your manicured lawn now looks like a minefield. Sound about right? We asked pet consultant Cathy Samuel to give us some insight as to why dogs dig destructively and what can be done about it. This is what she said…

1. Why does a dog dig destructively?
Cathy says: "Firstly, 'destructive' is a relative term. It is important to remember dogs dig instinctively and it is only destructive in our eyes - to them it is a normal behaviour and is some cases, we keep dogs which were actually bred to dig such as many of the terriers. We find it incredibly cute when a dog buries a bone after dinner (my dog Holly's favourite pastime) but then we freak out when the same pet digs up holes in the garden. I always stress to pet owners: your dog is not capable of digging up your flowers just to anger you - they are really not aware that they are doing wrong. There are many causes for digging - burying food is a left over trait from when dogs were wild - they would bury food and then come back and eat it later. Hunting is another reason and if your garden has moles, there might be plenty of digging! Some dogs dig to escape - commonly due to boredom and loneliness, or both.  Curiosity is a healthy trait in toddlers, and same goes for your pet! I always make sure both my dogs have adequate toys to keep them busy during the day. In hot weather, dogs may also dig into the ground to get cool, and sit in the cool un-earthed soil. Make sure on hot days that you provide shade and water for your pets or keep them inside in a ventilated area."
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2. What can be done to prevent digging?
Cathy says: "Just like humans, when anxiety builds up a pet needs to release that pent up energy. In the case of digging, try to tire your pet out with adequate walks during the day or early morning. Avoid using bonemeal when planting new plants - this is like an open invitation to digging dogs! If your dog digs because he suffers from seperation anxiety, provide him with toys to keep him occupied. Dogs that dig should not be left with chews for entertainment - they will usually spend more time burying them than chewing. Rather get a ball which is specially designed to alleviate boredom - it is filled with pellets or small treats and when they roll it around the pellets fall out - this can keep a dog occupied for hours. Remember to reduce his food slightly to compensate - especially if your dog is overweight.  
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3. What else can help my pets?
Cathy says: "Remove chaos from your dog's life. Just like children (and many adult humans!), dogs like routine and a calm (but stimulating) environment. When you change routine or provide none, it can distress a dog considerably so feed your dog at regular mealtimes and always feed in the same place. Your dog is more likely to be annoying and overactive if she’s already in a chaotic environment so turn the television down lower and close any doors where sound can impact her negatively. If she needs some help to calm down or deal with anxiety, try the amazing natural remedy PetCalm granules to really soothe jittered nerves immediately (you should notice a calmer pet on the first dose). You could also add a natural de-worming formula like Worm Dr Pets, as sand harbours many types of parasites. I would suggest that all pet owners read the Top 5 Behavioural issues in pets and what can be done to solve them. Also a great read is: Dogs Behaving Badly: In this 'Spock-like' owner's guide to rearing and training the family dog, the acclaimed author of "The Dog Who Loved Too Much" takes 26 of the most intractable and irritating dog behavioral problems and offers easy-to-follow treatment plans to cure each one." 
Have a question about your pet's health?
Contact Feelgood Pets for FREE ADVICE! Click here.

*This article is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition, nor replace any advice or a consultation with your vet. If you are concerned, please speak with your vet.

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