Have you seen a muddy-nosed Border Collie? This may well be because they have been digging! As a breed of herding dog originating in Scotland, collies are now is a beloved family dog… but did you know they also like to dig? Border collies can often be spotted digging holes in dirt or sand while their owners watch on.
Are Border Collies diggers? Border Collies are considered diggers and love to dig in sand, dirt, grass or flower beds. This is natural behavior and a result of their intelligence and high energy levels. However, it can also be an expression of anxiety or boredom and can become habituated. If your Collie is healthy and getting plenty of physical and mental stimulation with you then this is not something to worry about. They often grow out of this behavior after 18 to 24 months of age.
If you have a Collie in your life you are probably aware of their instinct to dig, especially at younger ages. They’ve demolished your flower patch and landscaped your lawn! But not to worry, this article addresses the reasons why Collies dig and explores ways to encourage them to release their energy in other ways… without your yard resembling The Somme!
Are Border Collies Diggers?
Border collies are known to be a very intelligent athletic breed of dogs, so it’s no surprise that they like to dig. Digging is a common pastime for Border Collie dogs, and they often go through the trouble of burying their special toy from their latest adventure. Border Collies also have a near-magical ability to bury and lose items they find during their walks! Because of these traits they also typically do very well in dog training and field competitions; some people use them as search and rescue dogs because they’re so talented at digging up lost items.
This is thought to stem from their breeding as sheepdogs giving them strong herding instinct and abilities and a need to be active and gather things together, even if only to deposit them into a hole! Although this can be annoying at times, there is normal, usually healthy behavior and really isn’t any reason to worry about your Border Collie digging holes in your yard or out on walks.
Your backyard shepherd will probably grow out of any digging frenzy, which is normally most pronounced as a puppy up to 18 months. However, this can be a manifestation of some underlying issues and obviously is not ideal if your yard or garden is being destroyed. Read on to find out about potential issues and how to manage this digging behavior.
Why Do Border Collies Dig?
Border Collie puppies will often dig holes as a way of playing. This playful habit will develop into the dog digging small burrows to sleep in and relax. In fact, there has been research conducted on this interesting behavior and why exactly it occurs. While it’s not completely understood why dogs like to dig, experts speculate that there are a few reasons behind this breed-specific behavior.
So why do Border Collies dig? It is generally accepted that Border Collie’s love to dig because they are wired to be constantly active, herding and gathering; this means ‘herding’ objects into holes satisfies this need and for the fun of it. Digging can, however, also be a result of anxiety, boredom and trying to escape the confinement of their yard or garden. Mental and physical exercise and regular walks will therefore help.
Just like kids in the sand, digging is fun and exciting! And this is likely the main reason Border Collies let off steam by digging holes, seeing the sand and dirt fly! They may also dig to find buried food items or toys they have previously buried. Digging can also sometimes be an expression of anxiety and boredom or desire to escape a fenced yard. See below for more on potential problem behavior related to digging.
How Do I Stop My Border Collie From Digging? 6 Proven Ways That Work!
So you’ve spotted your Border Collie digging in your yard and they’ve dug up all of your freshly planted flowers! Worry not, there are several ways to stop your dog from digging up all your favorite flowers when you aren’t looking:
1) Keep Your Border Collie Busy – Border Collies do best in active families, and if your dog gets bored or lonely when left at home alone he might resort to digging as a way to keep himself entertained. Add more physical activity into his or her daily exercise routine if he currently doesn’t get enough outside of playtime. This also means they can dig in nature rather than your yard!
2) Stimulate your puppy’s mind with training activities. This will give him or her something else to focus on and he’ll be less likely to look for something else to do that could potentially get themselves into trouble, such as digging. Here are some games for mental stimulation and outdoor activities.
3) Exercise is key! Collies certainly are not lazy or lethargic family pets, and need an outlet for all those herding abilities and energy. Periods of intense exercise will help your furry friend release this energy in others ways than hole digging. Longer walks with plenty of running and socialising with other dogs will help.
4) Sacrificial digging area: If you are worried about the aesthetics of your garden, then designating a ‘sacrificial’ spot with soft dirt for your pup to get the digging out of their system can work really well. You can then praise your dog when they choose the right spot to dig, away from your roses!
5) Dog Walkers or Pet Sitters: If you already have a busy schedule consider hiring someone to walk your pup twice per day or getting a dog walker in the morning/evening. It might be tough to fit in exercise when you have a jam-packed day but it’s vital so a dog walker or pet sitter so they are not alone for long periods of time.
6) Fill in the Holes: This is an obvious one, but if you’ve already noticed holes near your home, fill them up immediately after they are made! It’s best to use dirt from the original hole if possible, but if you can’t then simply use nearby dirt. You will want to purchase some grass seed and cover the fresh dirt over with it so that it can grow back quickly! There are also products on the market specifically designed for filling holes left by pets such as Pet Stop.
Do Border Collies Grow Out Of Digging?
We now know that Border Collies dig in particular when left without enough physical activity – and that this instinct often expresses itself by the dog digging, as well as chasing leaves blowing in the wind, or other patterns of obsessive behavior.
SO, when these concerns are addressed, will your Border Collie grow out of digging?
Do Border Collies grow out of digging? Most do grow out of excessive digging behavior which older puppies often exhibit. Collies normally grow out of digging by 18 to 24 months although occasional digging may still occur and is completely natural and healthy. If they have plenty of exercise and rewards for good behavior this will likely speed this process up.
Border Collie Digging: Problems and Health
As discussed, digging is normally a natural healthy trait in Collies. However, if they do not get enough excitement in their daily routine with walks, intense exercise, opportunities to run for extended periods and mental challenges (both outside and in their apartment), then this frustration can show in the form of excessive digging. You know your Border Collie better than anyone, and if you sense this may be a result of boredom or anxiety then some simple changes or additions to your routine may help (see below).
Regular access to a yard or garden or other outside space is very important. However, are also on the list of popular pet breeds for families with children, which means more small living spaces than average. It’s important to know that not all collies can handle smaller living spaces. Once again, it’s difficult to accurately predict what kind of dog will dig the most without considering their size and needs specifically – but there are some breeds that are notorious for digging (and other bad behaviors) if they don’t receive enough attention.
Very occasionally there may be health conditions that can cause a dog to change its behavior and start digging. Pica is a condition that causes animals, including dogs, to eat non-food items such as dirt. Some experts believe that Border Collies may take their love for the outdoors to the next level with pica and begin to ingest dirt as well as other materials.
Another theory suggests that some dogs might dig because they were not taught to inhibit their natural instinct to dig. Digging is a common behavior in the wild and dogs that haven’t been raised to control this instinct display it when put into certain situations.
If you have any specific health concerns and you feel this is becoming a destructive behavior, then do not hesitate to consult a trained veterinarian. Any potentially related issues such as eye conditions, itching of their double coat (a healthy coat is so important and a good indicator of wellness) or weight issues should be investigated of course.
Whether your Collie is of mixed breed, has a rough coat or smooth coat, is Blue Merle or has solid colors – whatever their appearance, color or parent breed – this intelligent dog breed often loves to dig holes especially as a puppy and juvenile.
Being a herding dog breed and one of the smartest breeds of dog Collies require LOTS of physical and mental exercise to keep them stimulated, which means plenty of time with their human companion. Events and meet-ups with their doggie friends may also help, socialisation is always important. This will encourage them to release their energy in other ways than digging up your yard.
Border Collies’ high metabolic levels means this exercise and daily physical activity will prevent their energy and emotions being pent up and released in the from of digging.
If you suspect digging is a result of health conditions, either physical or mental, consult a veterinarian for advice.