Cocker Spaniel Digging and How to STOP IT!

Is your Cocker Spaniel digging up your yard and making it look like the surface of the moon or a strip mining excavation? The changes are that you probably feel frustrated, upset, and helpless watching your pup do his thing. Digging is a natural instinctive behavior. All dog breeds have a fixation on digging, some more than others. Before we can begin to solve the problem, we must analyze the reasons why your Cocker Spaniel is digging.

Why does my cocker spaniel dig?

It is important to understand that your Cocker Spaniel is not digging in your yard to annoy you or deliberately make your life difficult. We need to look and determine the reason for the excavation. Ask yourself the following questions to determine where the digging behavior is coming from.

1) Where does my Cocker Spaniel dig? Is it one point or multiple points?

2) Why is it excavated? Old, chewy bones of buried rawhide, tree roots?

3) Does your Cocker dig when left alone?

4) Is the Cocker digging under a fence?

5) Does your Cocker bury his rawhide toys and chews?

Reasons to dig a cocker spaniel

1) Cocker Spaniels, especially young ones, are full of energy. If you don’t provide them with a proper and sufficient outlet for it, they will find their own. Your yard contains dirt, insects, and maybe even small burrowing animals. It can become a play paradise for puppies.

2) Your Cocker Spaniel loves to be in your company. This breed of dog desires a great deal of human companionship. If he leaves his pup alone in the yard (or even with another dog) all day, the Cocker may dig due to loneliness, boredom, and/or separation anxiety.

3) Cocker Spaniels were originally bred to be sporting dogs used for hunting birds. This is where the name “Cocker” comes from, as they were particularly adept at hunting woodcocks. Dogs 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’ve figured out the reason, we can start correcting the behavior. For starters, don’t leave your dog outside unsupervised while he tries to correct digging behavior. Keep an eye on your dog and distract him if he starts to dig. Since this is a natural instinct for your pup, you may want to set up 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 out.

correct behavior

When you catch your Cocker Spaniel digging where he’s not supposed to, look to see what he’s digging, remove the object if possible, and replace it in the permitted digging area. Pick up the puppy gently and place it in the allowed area. Only praise and give your dog treats when the appropriate behavior has been displayed. This can take a few times, but it is well worth the effort. For starters, your Cocker is smart and will pick up on it quickly. When you see the dog in the allowed area, it’s time to give it a treat.

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Distract your Cocker Spaniel by Digging

The old can trick seems to work for many dogs. It is simply an empty can filled with some pebbles, marbles, or coins. Anytime you see your cocker spaniel digging, shake the can briskly to distract the pup and stop the digging. Introduce your dog in the allowed digging area and only reward him if he digs in the allowed area. The can trick can be used to distract your pup from other undesirable behaviors. Only use the can to distract the dog and signal 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 darts 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, you’ll end up fencing off the follow bed.

Game time

Use your yard to play with your puppy. Play only non-aggressive games like fetch; teach new tricks and reinforce good behavior. This will meet the Cockers exercise and companionship requirements. Playing aggressive games like “tug of war” gives the dog a chance to try and exert his dominance over you. These types of games should be avoided at all times. You do not want to instill aggressive behavior in 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 above tips and tricks will help resolve the boredom, separation anxiety, and pent up energy that is causing your Cocker Spaniel to dig.

Never punish your dog, it will only make things that much harder to correct. A good coach can lend a hand if needed. Positive and gentle commands work best with your Cocker Spaniel.

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