Is My Rottweiler Digging for Gold?
The rate at which a Rottweiler can destroy a garden is startling. Some will begin to scratch furiously at soil or sand at any given opportunity. Is your Rottweiler displaying these kinds of behaviors, and is it driving you crazy?
Not all Rottweilers love to dig, but it’s a known facet of the breed. It may not make you feel better to know that digging holes is more often than not an instinctual desire programmed into them over centuries of evolution. But there are ways to deter your Rottweiler from digging.
Why Your Rottweiler Loves to Dig
Plunging their huge, shovel-like paws into the ground and beginning to furiously dig as though their lives depended on it is a common behavior found in Rottweilers.
It’s an Ancient Instinct
Like howling, digging is an ancient behavior that Rottweilers have inherited from their wolfy ancestors. Rottweilers are one of the oldest known dog breeds, and so they display a lot of actions that hark back to their wild days of old.
Dogs would dig holes for all kinds of reasons in the wild. A hole would be a place to keep food cool in the summertime. It was a place to store food when there was plenty, to be dug up again in times of scarcity.
With enough work, a hole soon becomes a den. Wild dogs give birth in dens dug into the ground, as it protects the pups from opportunistic predators. Even without pups, wild dogs dig dens for shelter.
Your Dog is Too Hot
The earth underneath the top layer of soil or grass quickly becomes cool out of the sun. Digging into cool earth and laying in it is a very common behavior in all kinds of dogs, especially Rottweilers.
It’s an Anxiety Behavior
Rottweilers are very sensitive creatures, thanks to their deep sense of loyalty and their high levels of intelligence. When they’re away from their owner for too long, they quickly become restless.
Digging is a way to relieve their stress. It’s not that they want to escape or go anywhere in particular; instead, it’s a way to channel their anxiety in the same way we might feel the need to go for a run when we’re feeling the strain.
Your Dog is Bored and/or Wants Attention
In the same way, that separation anxiety can induce digging, boredom and a lack of interaction with their human can do the same. A Rottweiler’s intelligent brain needs stimulation, or the dog can quickly become destructive.
Some Rottweilers will howl when they’re bored. Others will shred or chew items in the house. Still, others will dig. They know it’s a way to get our attention, and they’ll continue to display these unwanted behaviors until their owners address the underlying causes.
They’re Digging to Escape
Hopefully, your Rottweiler’s happy in its home but a lot of dogs, even with all the creature comforts of domestication, feel the need to escape from the backyard. It’s an exciting thrill, the chance to get into next door’s yard and the wonders that lie beyond the fence!
If they’ve seen another dog next door or, even worse, a cat, then this could provoke them, even more, to dig and dig until they can wriggle underneath the fence or gate to meet up with their canine pal or chase their feline prey.
So, now you have plenty of reasons to choose from as to why your Rottweiler’s digging so many holes. The only problem now is getting them to stop, so it no longer looks as though your lawn has been infested by a pack of giant moles.
How to Stop Your Rottweiler from Digging Holes
The main thing to remember is not to get mad, and not to punish your Rottweiler. With those large, empathetic brains comes a lot of sensitivity, and your Rottweiler won’t understand why you’re shouting at it.
Instead, try to prevent the digging in the first place, by running through this mental checklist and seeing which of these solutions is the best.
Check Your Rottweiler Has Sufficient Shelter
If your Rottweiler’s a guard dog or just likes to spend lots of time outside in the yard, the most important thing to provide, after freshwater, is shelter.
Dogs can overheat quickly, and they don’t have the capabilities to tell us they’re too hot and that they need to come inside. On hot days, they need somewhere shady and cool to rest. On cold days, they need a warm, dry place to go and get out of the rain.
Don’t Leave Your Rottweiler Alone for Too Long
Dogs aren’t meant to be outside all day, every day. If your Rottweiler’s left on its own for hours and hours at a time, you must ask yourself whether you’re equipped to give it everything it needs.
Be sure to give your dog lots of attention and if you’re having to work long shifts and don’t have the time to give your dog what it needs, then at the very least consider having a dog walker come over every day to give it exercise.
Failing that, register your Rottweiler for doggy daycare, so they can expend all their energy, make friends, and stay stimulated enough that they won’t need to dig holes to vent their frustration.
Distract Your Rottweiler with Something Else
Give that intelligent brain something else to focus on than boring days in a yard with fresh, diggable dirt. Puzzles, interaction with other dogs at doggy daycare, and plenty of interaction from you are all ways to keep your Rottweiler stimulated.
Give Your Rottweiler a Designated Digging Space
A sandbox or even a paddling pool filled with water are both possible solutions to the problem. Bury some treats in the sand to draw your Rottweiler in, and once they know it’s their own space, they’ll enjoy indulging in some instinctual digging without ruining your flowerbeds.
Try Scent Distraction Techniques
Chili powder, mothballs, or even their own poop can be thrown into a hole your Rottweiler’s dug, or placed around their favorite digging spot. You’ll tend to find they won’t want to visit it again.
Early Training Will Help
From the moment you get your puppy home, train them out of the digging habit. Don’t indulge their digging and leash them in the garden until they’re trained to no longer tear up your lawn. Reward good behavior, never punish bad behavior.
It can also help to cut back on the number of treats you hand out. Dogs bury when there’s a surplus of food, so by making food scarce, they’ll be less likely to feel the need to bury it for leaner times.
Remember the Words of Cesar Milan
In the words of The Dog Whisperer himself, “a well-behaved dog is a tired dog.”
The same is absolutely true for your Rottweiler. If your dog’s too worn out by all the walks, games, and fun they have with you, then they’ll barely have the energy to walk outside to their favorite spot on the lawn, let alone begin to dig.
Plenty of exercises, both physical and mental, is key to a lot of a dogs’ behavior. All your Rottweiler wants is love, attention, and things to keep them busy. If their brain is full of plenty of other activities, your Rottweiler will give no more thought to digging holes.