Why do dogs dig in the couch? Digging is a natural canine behavior that can be caused by boredom, anxiety or just plain instincts. Digging is a problem when it becomes damaging or occurs in places you don’t want your dog to dig in, like the couch, the bed, or your well-manicured lawn. Today I’ll share which breeds are the most likely to be enthusiastic diggers, and how to stop your dog from digging in the couch and other undesirable places.
- Why do dogs dig in the couch?
- Which dog breeds dig the most?
- How to stop your dog digging
- Dogs that dig before they settle down
- Anxious dogs digging in couches
Why Do Dogs Dig in the Couch?
The urge to dig is common in dogs. What are the reasons behind digging? The stereotypical one is to bury and then dig up bones, but there are several other reasons for digging. Some dogs will dig when they feel trapped or confined, for example trying to dig their way out of a crate or under a backyard fence. Sometimes a dog will want to dig out a shallow depression in the ground to create a sleeping spot.
This reason goes a long way to explain why they often dig in their dog beds, your bed, or the couch.
Pregnant dogs will often try to dig out a nest to have their puppies in.
The urge to dig in the ground for prey is another common reason for digging. Some breeds were created to hunt for burrowing animals. A dog’s sensitive senses of smell and hearing might detect a small animal underground, prompting a session of urgent digging to get to it.
Digging can also be a purely anxious behavior, like howling or chewing, when a dog is feeling stress or separation anxiety.
What Breeds of Dog Like to Dig?
The natural urge to dig has been emphasized by selective breeding to create working dogs that have a strong desire to hunt and kill burrowing prey animals. Most terrier breeds fall into this category, along with a few other earthdog breeds, like the Dachshund. Some scent hounds like the Beagle are also known to be diggers.
Northern dog breeds like the Alaskan Malamute or Siberian Husky don’t dig for prey like terriers. Their digging comes from the breeds’ tendency to dig out warm sleeping spots in the snow.In warm weather, these same breeds may dig in the dirt to create cool sleeping spots, so they won’t overheat in their thick fur coats.
Herding breeds like the Border Collie or Australian Shepherd can be problem diggers. Digging in these breeds may be more related to their high levels of energy and intelligence. They may dig out of boredom or enthusiasm.
Other breeds and breed mixes can also dig. The urge to bury and dig up bones or other food has been passed on to dogs from their wolf ancestors. Modern dogs have inherited this instinct to cache food. Sometimes they’ll also try to bury a favorite toy to hide it and keep it safe.
Mixed breeds like Labradoodles are likely candidates for digging, coming from two enthusiastic working breeds.
How to Stop Dogs from Digging
Since digging has several different causes, there is not necessarily a single answer to the question of how to get your dog to stop digging in the couch.
Your dog could be digging in the couch to prepare a sleeping spot, or maybe to hide food or a toy. Couch digging can also be caused by boredom, stress, or separation anxiety.
Let’s look at some ways to solve this problem if couch digging becomes destructive. Sometimes these solutions will also work for yard digging, but this type of outdoor digging can have other triggers, like a strong prey drive.
Dogs Dig In Couches To Settle Down
Keep in mind that a small amount of digging in the couch, dog bed, or your bed is a normal way for your dog to settle in for a nap. This type of digging is not typically damaging or destructive. If you find that your dog is damaging bedding or furniture with aggressive digging, some intervention may be needed.
Is Your Dog Burying Their Food In The Couch?
Dogs that bury food or toys can benefit from food puzzles and treat dispensers. This can be a good way to redirect that natural digging instinct toward a device designed to engage and stimulate your dog to work for a reward.
You can also set aside some time for you and your dog to interact together in treat or toy hiding and finding games. The desire to dig in the couch can be satisfied with play.
How To Stop Anxious Couch Digging
Dogs that dig out of anxiety or boredom can benefit from environmental enrichment. When you are away, you can provide your dog with chew toys, play calming music, or have a dog walker take your dog outside.
Engage your dog in mentally and physically stimulating activities when you are home. Take your dog for walks, play a game of fetch, or enroll your dog in an organized canine group activity like agility training.
Terriers and other dogs with strong digging instincts can be provided with a designated digging area. Some owners have found that setting up a sandbox in the yard can be helpful. You can bury toys in the sandbox for your dog to dig up.
Why Do Dogs Dig In The Couch?
Digging is a natural behavior for dogs, and they can dig for a variety of different reasons. A little couch digging to prepare for bedtime is normal and usually harmless.
If the couch digging becomes destructive, determine the reason for the digging and redirect your dog’s behavior to other activities. Providing alternatives to digging is a better solution than punishment, especially when the behavior is built into your dog’s DNA.
More Dog Behaviors Explained
- How much sleep do dogs need?
- Should you bathe your puppy before vaccines?
- Why do dogs watch you eat?
- Why does my dog itch after I bathe them?
- Horwit and Landsberg. Dogs and Destructive Digging. VCA Animal Hospitals.
- Garvey et al. Implementing Environmental Enrichment for Dogs. Purdue University Extension, 2016.