Is your Cocker Spaniel digging your yard and making it look like the surface of the moon or a strip mining excavation? Changes are you are probably feeling frustrated, annoyed and feeling helpless as you watch your pup do its thing. Digging is a natural instinctive behavior. All breeds of dogs have a digging fixation, some more than others. Before we can begin to solve the problem we have to look at the reasons why your Cocker Spaniel is digging.
Why is My Cocker Spaniel Digging?
It’s important to understand that your Cocker Spaniel is not digging up your yard to spite you or to deliberately make your life difficult. We need to look at and determine the reason for the digging. Ask yourself the follow questions to determine where the digging behavior is coming from.
1) Where does my Cocker Spaniel dig? Is it one spot or several spots?
2) What is it digging for? Old bones, buried rawhide chews, tree roots?
3) Does your Cocker dig when left alone?
4) Is the Cocker digging under a fence?
5) Does your Cocker bury its rawhide chews and toys?
Reasons for Cocker Spaniel Digging
1) Cocker Spaniels, particularly young ones, are bursting with energy. If you do not provide them with a proper and sufficient outlet for it, they will find their own. Your yard contains dirt, bugs, and maybe even small burrowing animals. It can become a play ground paradise for the young pup.
2) Your Cocker Spaniel loves to be in your company. This breed of dog desires a good deal of human companionship. If you leave your pup alone in the yard (or even with another dog) all day, the Cocker may dig due to loneliness, boredom, and/or separation anxiety.
3) Cocker Spaniels were originally bred to be sporting dogs used to hunt birds. That is where the name “Cocker” comes from, as they were particularly adept at hunting woodcock. Dogs that are bred to hunt or herd have a greater need for occupation and are more susceptible to boredom.
Ways to Stop Cocker Spaniel Digging
Now that we have discovered the reason we can start to correct the behavior. To start with don’t leave your dog outside unsupervised while you are trying to correct the digging behavior. Watch your dog and distract it if it starts digging. Since this is a natural instinct for your pup, you may want to establish an area where your dog is permitted to dig. The area can be made out of sand and soft dirt. It’s a good idea to bury treats and toys so your pup can dig them out.
Correct the Behavior
When you catch your Cocker Spaniel digging where it is not suppose to, look to see what it is digging for, remove the object if possible and replace in the allowed digging area. Pick the pup up gently and place it in the allowed area. Only praise and give your dog treats when the proper behavior has been displayed. This might take a few times but well worth the effort. Your Cocker is smart to begin withand will catch on fast. When you see the dog in the allowed area it is time for treat.
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Distract your Cocker Spaniel Digging
The good old can trick seems to work for many dogs. It is simply an empty pop can filled with a few pebbles, marbles or coins. Whenever you see the Cocker Spaniel digging, shake the can vigorously to distract the pup and stop the digging. Introduce your dog to the allowed digging area and only reward the dog if it digs in the allowed area. The can trick can be used to distract your pup from other undesirable behaviors. Only use the can to distract the dog to signal that its behavior is unacceptable.
Stop Digging in Flower Beds
Do not leave the dog alone until the digging behavior has been corrected. If your pup bolts for the flower beds promptly distract and place the pup in its own dig area. This system is simple and it works the only problem is that people seem to give up after a while. If you don’t follow through you’ll end up fencing off the follow bed.
Use your yard to play with your pup. Play only none aggressive games like fetch; teach new tricks, and good behavior reinforcement. This will meet the Cockers exercise and companionship requirements. Playing aggressive games like “tug of war” allows the dog the opportunity to attempt and exert its dominance over you. These types of games should be avoided at all times. You don’t want to instill an aggressive behavior is your Cocker.
Take your Dog for Walks
Walks at least once a day is good for you and your Cocker Spaniel and will help your dog expend some of that energy.
The above tips and tricks will help solve the boredom, separation anxiety and pent up energy that is causing the Cocker Spaniel digging.
Never punish your dog it will only make matters that much more difficult to correct. A good trainer can lend a helping hand if needed. Positive and gently commands work best with your Cocker spaniel