As a dog owner, noticing a behavioral change or an existing one’s escalation isn’t uncommon. While you might think behavioral change is an indication for your dog’s lifestyle or environment change, some like these are innocuous;
- Dog panting
- Jumping up
- Tail chasing
However, you cannot be too sure about your dog’s antics, especially those that are destructive to your property or the dog. One such behavior you need to pay extra attention to is digging, which many dogs, particularly German Shepherds, like to do for various reasons.
Remember, German Shepherds, are extremely intelligent and brave, meaning there’s nothing they can’t do on their own. So when they pick up destructive behaviors like digging, you bet there’s a reason behind it.
So what causes digging in dogs, and how can you stop it? Find out in this article.
Like most people, dogs love constant attention and companionship, more importantly, German shepherds whose character provides affection and friendship to their human families.
Because German shepherds are natural pack animals, they don’t fare well when frequently left alone. It would be best if you spent more time with them by playing games, working out together, and including them in your routines.
When you take away the attention, your dog may feel neglected and lonely, which eventually builds up emotional anxiety. Hence, your dog will adopt destructive behaviors like digging as a coping mechanism to the anxiety.
An apparent indicator that your dog has separation anxiety is if they get anxious or suddenly change their stance when you’re about to leave. Dogs do this because they don’t want to be alone any more than they want you to go.
Dogs, more so German shepherds, have instincts to protect themselves for survival. Besides, it’s dogs’ nature to dig holes, so sometimes it might be nothing but a familiar thing to do.
In most cases, rescue dogs don’t adapt quickly to domesticated life, so they’ll try to hide stuff like food and toys from predators. Also, when your dog feels like they’re not getting enough food, they’ll want to save some of it by digging holes to hide leftovers.
The best way you’ll conclusively tell that your dog is digging for survival is by keenly watching their behavior. Usually, if they dig solely to hide stuff, it means their survival mode is kicking in, at which point it’d be helpful to make essential changes that assure them their behavior is unnecessary.
It Might Be Their Hobby
Sometimes your dog might be in love with digging holes. Besides, when your dog feels bored, they’ll look for entertainment, and having an open yard provides endless fun opportunities.
Often, what causes digging in dogs is the need to escape something detrimental. So, if your dog doesn’t exhibit red flags like the ones above in their digging, then they certainly enjoy it.
Being cooped up in the house on hot days doesn’t do well for German shepherds. That’s why outdoor shades are essential for cooling off your dog when their body temperature rises.
On the flip side, when there’s no shade, your dog will impulsively look for alternative means to cool off. Thus, digging holes to lie on the cold underground soil.
How To Stop Your Dog From Digging
As you can see, dogs dig for different reasons. You’ll need to determine the cause of the digging to nip the behavior in the bud successfully, for starters. The trick is to cautiously observe your dog’s digging to come up with a suitable plan.
German shepherds, like other dogs, respond well to training, but for quick results, you’ll need to take it up when your dog is a pup or soon after the digging starts. Because training is important, the earlier you do it, the quicker your dog will elude digging.
The best approach is the ‘leave-it training which provides an incentive like a treat when your dog evades digging tendencies.
For it to work in the long haul, you’ll need to reward your dog with something they value, like a toy or treats, every time they follow the leave-it command. It’s a powerful way to communicate to your dog that bad behavior is unacceptable while good behavior is excellent and rewardable.
Dogs like German shepherds need constant and intense stimulation for their wellbeing. They not only love it, but they’ll use this stimulation to eschew bad behavior like digging. By contrast, lack of exercise results in a lot of unused energy that your dog will use to entertain themselves in unbecoming ways.
Consequently, you must exercise your dog regularly and offer intense exercises for dog breeds like German shepherds. Consider taking your dog on walks, runs, or to a dog park where they’ll expend their energy playing with other dogs.
On hot days like the summer, sign your dog up for swimming sessions – it’s an intensive exercise that’ll quickly tire your dog, eliminating the need for digging.
If your dog digs holes to hide food, it might be because they feel the need to do so due to insufficient food. Other times their nutrition may be insignificant, making meals insatiable for your dog. You can rectify this by consulting with a professional who’ll help you arrange the best nutrition for your dog.
Eventually, your dog may not hide food anymore because they’re getting wholesome meals that keep them energized and full throughout the day.
Block Your Yard
A more accessible alternative to stopping your dog from digging is by blocking open field areas like the yard. Frankly, it’s a straightforward solution, but it’ll only put off the behavior rather than resolve it.
Fencing your yard is okay at first if you’re too busy to undertake other valuable measures. However, please don’t rely on it long-term as your dog may result in scratching your floors, among other doings.
Consult with a Dog Trainer
If you’ve tried the above measures but your dog is still digging, it might be time to loop in a dog trainer who’ll offer training and suggestions specific to your dog’s needs.
Owing to the trainer’s knowledge and experience, you’re bound to find helpful advice that caters to your dog’s immediate and long-term needs.
Keep in mind that you can resolve what causes digging in dogs with a few lifestyle changes and the occasional professional intervention. Therefore, before you embark on trial and error activities, discern your dog’s behavior, then consult a professional for safe solutions like those above.