Is your Cocker Spaniel digging up your garden on a regular basis? Tired of seeing those holes with big piles of dirt next to them as though you had an army of moles living in your back garden?
The best way to stop your Cocker Spaniel from digging up the garden is to first look at why he’s digging so you can understand the reason behind his behavior. Then you need to remove or correct the reason that is making him behave this way…..sounds simple? Unfortunately, it’s not!!
Before we go further into this digging problem, you have to understand that it’s perfectly normal behavior for almost all breeds of dogs to dig. Some breeds seem to have more of an obsession with it than others but in general, all dogs do like to dig regardless of their temperament.
A digging Cocker Spaniel can be one of the most frustrating things for the owner but hopefully after you have read this page, you will be closer to understanding why your dog digs and how you can go about stopping it.
If you are looking for some help in training you dog, be sure to check out this fantastic online training. They offer some free material too.
Why Does My Cocker Spaniels Dig?
This question always seems to make the top 5 most asked questions on the internet about Cocker Spaniels. You see, I told you all dogs dig.
There’s always a very good reason why he’s digging and usually, it’s pretty easy to see a pattern emerge after a few days of him destroying your lawn or plants.
I know it’s frustrating watching him behave this way but just try and remember that there is a reason behind the digging and he really isn’t doing it just to annoy you.
- Where Does He Dig?: Does your Cocker only dig in the garden? If so, is it always in roughly the same area? My Cocker Spaniel very rarely digs these days (he’s over 12 years old now) but on the odd occasion that he does fancy a dig, he usually digs his bed pulling the cushion and toys out of it…..he’s a strange old boy.
- Does Your Cocker Only Did When He’s Left Alone?: Some Cockers will only dig when they are left alone for periods of time. I have said that I feel Cocker Spaniels shouldn’t live outside if they are a family pet so your Cocker shouldn’t really have the chance to be digging on his own. If he lives outside because he’s a gun dog then that’s a different matter.
- Is He Looking For Something?: Cockers are notorious for burying old bones and toys so if your Cocker is more than a few months old, he could very well be looking for something that he buried for a rainy day.
- Does He Try And Dig Under A Fence?: This is a very common one. Dogs often dig up against a fence as though they are trying to get underneath it although many people online seem to think the fence is merely a focal point and they aren’t actually trying to get underneath the fence or anything like that.
When I first got my little Cocker Spaniel called Guinness, he would dig when he was in the garden all the time. As soon as I had his attention by fussing over him or by waving one of his toys, he would stop digging and want to play with me.
If I went inside to get a drink or check on the kids etc, as soon as my back was turned, he would be trying to dig a tunnel to Australia again…..Once I was back in the garden and had his attention again, he would stop.
After a few weeks, maybe longer, I realized something.
He only really behaved this way if he was in the garden in between his walks. I always took him out for a shorter walk in the morning then a much much longer one later on.
He never really used to dig in the garden if it was after his very long walk but would always be digging if it was before the big walk.
That’s when I realized that he was just full of energy that he needed to burn off. When I took him out for his second walk of the day, he was obviously getting enough exercise and burning off enough energy that he didn’t need to dig to burn anymore off.
Another thing to point out is that Cocker Spaniels were originally hunting dogs. Obviously they are still used for that purpose by many people today.
A trait of hunting dogs and especially Cocker Spaniels is that they are full of energy and need occupied and entertained otherwise boredom sets in and they will look to entertain themselves……that usually involves the DIGGING!!!
Most cockers are domesticated and raised as family pets. If they are left alone or are not involved with the family, again they will look for something to do and again, that usually involves a spot of digging.
How To Stop Your Cocker Digging
You need to identify which of the above reasons explains your Cockers digging. I’m pretty certain that one of the reasons I have mentioned above will apply to your dog.
If your dog digs in the garden even when you are there, the chances are that he’s simply bored. Try getting his attention by playing with some of his favorite toys and have a good ten minutes daft play with him.
My Guinness loved his rope and we would play fetch for ages.
The chances are that your pup will need something more stimulating than that so take him out for a brisk walk and get him burning off some of that typical Cocker Spaniel energy.
One great tip I read online was that you should have a little area where your Cocker is allowed to dig freely. The reason behind this is like I said earlier, digging comes naturally to dogs and it’s only fair to let him dig a little if that’s what he wants to do.
The tip was to have a little area in the corner of your garden that is either soil or as the poster suggested, have some sand and try and encourage your dog to go and dig there…..easier typed than done I know but like all training, it will pay off if you work at it.
The best way to train your dog to do this is when you catch your dog digging, see if there’s something there that he’s digging for. If he has an old bone or toy that he’s dug up then this is the perfect scenario.
What you do is, pick the bone or toy or whatever it is up, and take it, along with your Cocker, over to the ‘digging allowed’ area……you may have to repeat this process a few times but your dog will understand it eventually so make sure you reward him.
Its always worth rewarding him for the first few times he goes into his allowed area, especially if he does it without any prompting from you.
If your Cocker Spaniel is digging in the garden because you have left him there while you have gone out to work or wherever then I strongly suggest you do not leave him outside alone. I appreciate that dogs have to be left alone certain points of most days but at least allow him to be indoors with his bed and favorite blanket and toys and all hi familiar smells.
I really do not agree with leaving a dog outside in the garden unless he is a gun/hunting dog and that’s where he lives all the time i;e he has a ‘run’ built for him and isn’t a domesticated family pet.
If you are a responsible dog owner then I’m sure by now you understand that when you’re trying to train your puppy to be obedient and learn new things, the last thing you want to do is punish him.
Cockers learn much faster through praise and rewards than they do by being shouted at or tapped on the nose when they aren’t doing what you want them to do.
Training them to stop digging or to only dig in certain areas is no different. It takes time, patience and plenty of love and the love you get in return from you Cocker Spaniel will be so rewarding.
My Guinness very rarely digs in the garden and if he does, you know what, I just let him have a few minutes before I distract him, My old boy is over 12 years old now so I let him have his moment.
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