Is your Cocker Spaniel digging your garden and making it look like the surface of the moon or an open pit mining excavation? The changes are likely to make you feel frustrated, upset, and powerless as you watch your puppy do his thing. Digging is a natural instinctual behavior. All dog breeds have a fixation on digging, 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 is important to understand that your Cocker Spaniel is not digging in your garden to annoy you or to deliberately make your life difficult. We need to look and determine the reason for the excavation. Ask yourself the following questions to determine where your digging behavior is coming from.
1) Where does my Cocker Spaniel dig? Is it one place or several places?
2) What are you digging for? Old, chewy rawhide bones buried, tree roots?
3) Does your Cocker dig when left alone?
4) Is the Cocker digging under a fence?
5) Does your Cocker bury his chews and rawhide toys?
Reasons to dig Cocker Spaniel
1) Cocker Spaniels, particularly young ones, are full of energy. If you do not provide them with a suitable and sufficient outlet, they will find their own. Your yard contains dirt, insects, and maybe even small burrowing animals. It can become a play paradise for the young pup.
2) Your Cocker Spaniel loves to be in your company. This breed of dog desires a lot of human companionship. If you leave your puppy alone in the garden (or even with another dog) all day, the Cocker Spaniel may dig due to loneliness, boredom, and / or separation anxiety.
3) Cocker Spaniels were originally bred to be sporting dogs used to hunt birds. Hence the name “Cocker”, as they were particularly adept at hunting woodcocks. Dogs that are bred for hunting or herding have a greater need for occupation and are more susceptible to boredom.
Ways to Stop Cocker Spaniel Digging
Now that we have figured out why, we can begin to correct the behavior. For starters, don’t leave your dog outside unsupervised while trying to correct the digging behavior. Observe your dog and distract him if he starts digging. Since this is a natural instinct for your puppy, you may want to establish an area where your dog can dig. The area can be made of sand and soft earth. It’s a good idea to bury treats and toys so your pup can dig them up.
When you catch your Cocker Spaniel digging where it isn’t supposed to, look to see what it is digging, remove the object if possible, and replace it in the allowed digging area. Pick up the puppy carefully and place it in the allowed area. Only praise and treat your dog when the proper behavior has been displayed. This may take several times, but it is worth the effort. Your Cocker is smart to start with and will catch up quickly. When you see the dog in the allowed area, it is time to give him a treat.
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Distract your cocker spaniel by digging
The good can trick seems to work for many dogs. It is simply an empty can filled with stones, marbles, or coins. Whenever you see the Cocker Spaniel digging, shake the can vigorously to distract the puppy and stop the digging. Bring your dog into the allowed digging area and reward the dog only if he digs in the allowed area. The can trick can be used to distract your pup from other undesirable behaviors. Use the can only to distract the dog and point out that his behavior is unacceptable.
Stop digging in flower beds
Do not leave the dog alone until the digging behavior has been corrected. If your pup runs into the flower beds, quickly distract him and place him in his own digging 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 him, you will end up fencing off the follow-up bed.
Use your garden to play with your puppy. Play only non-aggressive games like fetch; Teach new tricks and reinforce good behavior. This will meet the exercise and companionship requirements of Cockers. Playing aggressive games like “tug of war” gives the dog a chance to try and exercise dominance over you. These types of games should be avoided at all times. You do not want to instill aggressive behavior is your Cocker.
Take your dog for a walk
Walking at least once a day is good for you and your Cocker Spaniel and will help your dog expend some of that energy.
The tips and tricks above will help resolve the boredom, separation anxiety, and pent-up energy that is causing the Cocker Spaniel’s digging.
Never punish your dog, it will only make things that much more difficult to correct. A good coach can lend a hand if necessary. Positive, gentle commands work best with your Cocker Spaniel.