Dogs vs. Moles: Digging Season has Begun!

There are many reasons that dogs dig! But ultimately it usually boils down to instinct(!) – your dog’s drive to dig can be as ingrained as barking or sniffing!

And some (like my Spud here IMG_8399…!) are usually in search of small animals! Thanks to your dog’s keen sense of smell and hearing, your dog will likely detect the presence of a mole for instance, long before it makes the telltale mole hill in your garden. Dogs can hear the sounds of these critters digging underground, which may send your pup into a digging frenzy.  Spud is a seasonal digger who always starts in January – he has a particular penance for Moles – who’s  breeding season is generally February to June in the UK, you will start seeing more mole hills around from January created as the males search for mates! 

All dogs, even the proverbial couch potatoes of the dog world, have a predatory instinct within them. It’s why your dog loves to chew up their squeaky toys and chase squirrels on their walk. When your dog is exploring the garden, they may be hearing and smelling animals that are underground. Dogs with a high prey drive, in particular terrier breeds, may take to digging in the garden in an attempt to get at the critters they hear and smell. chances are that they too will be seeking small rodents.  After all, many terriers were specifically bred for rodent-control, and certain breeds (such as the Jack Russell Terrier), were developed for controlling mole problems in particular!

So what can be done about it?

Because digging is a deeply held instinct in your dog, you may not be able to stop it completely. And although your first instinct might be to reprimand him for digging up your garden, you should really reward him! He’s simply doing what these dogs were bred to do! That’s why most behaviorists and trainers agree that it is important to provide more appropriate outlets for your dogs digging and to address issues that would lead your dog to dig in the first place.

For dogs with a high prey drive, such as Jack Russell Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, Dachshunds and other breeds that were originally meant to hunt small animals, the AKC Earthdog tests can be a great outlet. Unfortunately only certain breeds are eligible for Earthdog events through the AKC specifically and these include most small to medium sized terriers and the Dachshund. 

However, If like Spud here, your digging dog doesn’t fit into this narrow category, there is still something you can do to provide an outlet for your beloved pup….

Why not gift your dog a designated area of your garden! You can either select an area of the garden that you are happy for your dog to dig, or alternatively you can buy a wooden sand pit and fill it with compost/sand. You can then encourage your dog to dig in this area with the use of treats and reward. If your dog has been clicker trained then you can click and reward every time they enter and dig in the chosen area! This can also be beneficial for dogs who like to dig to hide toys and snacks!

Voila! Happy Dog = Happy Pawrent! 

Remember if a dog is prevented from performing a behaviour that is natural to them, then they may find alternative ways to satisfy this urge. The best thing to do is encourage these behaviours in ways that are mutually agreeable for you and your dog!

Interesting fact: Did you know thatMoles can dig up to 200m in a day. They work in 4 hour shifts with 4 hours sleep inbetween and can move up to 540 times their own body weight in soil!!!! 

……..I sometimes wonder if our Spud was a mole in a previous life……!

As always, I’m hoping this information is useful.

Many thanks for taking time out to read our latest blog!

SuPaw Nanny