If your dog has been digging at the floor, then you may be scratching your head to figure out the reason why your pooch is so engrossed in this behavior.
The thing is, dogs exhibit different kinds of behaviors that seem weird to us (humans/owners), but most times, there are reasons for every behavior your dog has suddenly picked up.
So, why does my dog keep digging or scratching at the floor? The most common reasons are boredom, instincts inherited from their primitive ancestors, anxiety or fear, and an attempt to make their sleeping surface conducive.
Having summarized the various reasons responsible for this behavior, got some minutes, read on below to fully understand each.
The first reason that could be responsible for your dog digging at the floor is instinct. This can be traced down back to when dogs were in the wild and before they were domesticated.
They dug up holes as a common canine ritual for different reasons like safety and getting protected from cold and hot temperatures.
Even though dogs have been domesticated for several millenniums, they still retain most of these instincts. Studies as well have shown most of these instincts are hard-coded in their DNA.
So anytime you see your dog digging up your floor, it can just be an instinctive behavior.
Boredom is another common reason.
Is your dog always left alone? Or do you frequently find your floor dug up when you are away?
Then this could be as a result of boredom.
Dogs are active creatures that require a lot of mental and physical stimulation to be in a good state. When they are under-stimulated, they try different means (including destructive ones) to ease off their boredom.
Digging and scratching the floor provides a sort of entertainment for your dog, hence why it indulges in it whenever it’s bored.
Nesting is an instinctive behavior where dogs dig and burrow into small spaces in an attempt to make a ‘den’ so as to provide a safe environment.
While nesting is often associated with pregnant dogs, it’s also common in male dogs and also non-pregnant female ones.
When dogs engage in this behavior, they either scratch and dig at the floor to plump up their sleeping areas in order to create a softer resting spot. Or dig a hollow space that mimics a den to sleep in, providing them a sense of security.
If you see your dog digging just before it lies down in a bid to create a more comfortable space, then it’s just nesting.
Sometimes, dogs dig and scratch the floor to claim their territory. Dogs being territorial animals, do want to claim a part of available space – and they do so by digging and scratching.
As you may have known, dogs don’t sweat on their skin but rather through their paws.
These sweat glands located under their paws leave a distinct smell around the dug-up area that other dogs can easily pick up, thanks to their highly developed sense of smell.
You will probably notice this behavior if you just brought another dog home with each trying to secure their territory.
Another contributing factor to your dog digging at the floor is anxiety or fear.
Talking about fear, your dog could be afraid of several things, including unfamiliar faces, when you have company over. It could also be scared of loud noises from fireworks, thunderstorms, or even loud music if it’s still a puppy.
Anxiety also plays a part in this behavior. A nervous dog would instinctively try to burrow to get away from something scaring them.
While there are different types of anxiety your dog may be experiencing, separation anxiety is more common. When your dog digs only when you leave him alone, it may suffer from separation anxiety.
Other things to consider
Does your dog always stay at home either with you or not when it started this behavior? If yes, then your dog may be under-exercised.
Dogs are active by nature and should be exercised often.
When dogs have excess energy, they tend to find a way to expend it through different behaviors that may be cool or not with you.
What if my dog only digs at night?
If your dog only digs at night, then nesting and anxiety are the common responsible factors. Dogs that dig when about to take the night rest do so for comfort and protection. It provides a perfect spot to curl up, and the high edges provide a sense of security.
The fear factor can be attributed to thunderstorms and lightning. It’s also possible that your dog gets scared at night when you’ve gone to bed. This is more common when it’s still a puppy.
How to stop it
Get it exercised: You may need to exercise your dog more. Get it stimulated more, both mentally and physically. A long walk in the morning and evening will suffice to help exhaust some energy. Or just in the evening if you cannot afford much time.
You can get him mentally engaged by giving it a variety of toys especially interactive toys and slow chews, to keep it engaged, so it doesn’t get bored.
You can also consider setting aside a bit more playtime if you fancy. Dogs like when playing with their owners the most. So, why not try it often?
Lastly, make sure your dog has a comfortable place to sleep. Dogs would do anything to get comfort. If you can afford it, you can get a great bed for diggers for less than $100 on Amazon.
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