The first time you saw your doxie digging its way into a pile of blankets, you may have thought it was incredibly cute. The fifth time they dug a hole in your garden? Maybe less so. For dachshunds, digging and burrowing are instinctual and a source of stimulation, but that doesn’t mean you need to let them make tunnels wherever they please. To give you a better grasp on your pup’s common behavior, we’ve outlined common reasons why dachshunds dig and how you can keep it under control.
It’s in their nature
If you take one look at a dachshund’s body shape, you can see that they were born to dig. Starting in the 15th century, they were bred to hunt badgers (their name even translates to badger dog from German!). In other words, dachshunds have been spending time in small, dark spaces since the very beginning. Their pointy noses, long bodies, and big paws helped make them experts at flushing badgers out of their dens, and even though dachshunds are far more commonly bred to be domestic pets these days, they still have natural instincts to burrow. You can blame the 15th-century breeders who needed to make sure that the digging and tunneling instincts were so strong that their dogs wouldn’t be afraid of any badger!
They’re proud of their digging skills
Even though you’re probably not taking your doxie on a regular hunting expedition, they still feel accomplished when they dig holes. You may have noticed that your pup has a deep desire to please you, and given their badger hunting roots, they think that they’ll make you proud by digging into the soil.
It makes them feel safe
Your dachshund’s digging likely isn’t limited to outdoors. The breed is known to happily burrow its way into blankets and pillows before promptly heading off to sleep. This is tied to natural instincts, too. If they had to survive in the wild, they would have dug small holes to sleep in to protect them from weather and other animals. In other words, it’s not just warmth they’re after when they burrow, it’s a feeling of safety.
Just because it’s natural for dachshunds to dig doesn’t mean that your backyard needs to become tunnel heaven or that every blanket and piece of furniture needs to turn into your pup’s next burrow spot. While you probably won’t be able to get your doxie to stop digging entirely, with a little work, you can redirect and control when and where they dig.
Designated digging areas
One great way to protect the areas that you don’t want your dachshund to attempt to burrow into is to provide them with a designated space to satisfy his digging instincts. Outside, you can do this by carving out a differentiated area where digging is ok — a sandbox would work wonderfully for this. Filling the space with sand rather than soil makes it easier for your doxie to understand where they can and can’t dig, and to make it even more fun, you can bury their favorite toys in the sand for them to find. If they start digging in your garden or near the fence, firmly tell them no, and redirect them to their digging spot, rewarding them when they dig there instead.
Create cozy burrowing corners
The same principle applies indoors, too. Set up a spot where your pup can get extra comfy among blankets so they know that they always have a place to retreat to when they want to burrow. Ideally, choose a place that is low to the ground (avoiding the need to jump up onto anything is always beneficial for their joints), and pile a couple of clean blankets on top of their bed. There’s no need to worry about your pup getting trapped under blankets — the only time to be cautious is if your doxie is burrowing into your bed, when you’ll want to make sure the bedding isn’t tightly tucked into the mattress so that they can always find their way out. Burrow beds or cave beds are other alternatives to allow your pup to feel safely snuggled in.
Ensure they’re getting enough exercise
Digging is an easy way for dachshunds to get some of their wiggles out, so if your pup is going a little overboard with their digging, they may be feeling a bit cooped up. Prioritizing sufficient exercise for your doxie is a quick way to channel some of their energy into different activities, and tuckering them out with a walk or game of fetch will probably require less clean up than some of their digging ventures, too.
Some parting words of wisdom when it comes to your pup’s love of burrowing their way into blankets and the like? The next time you flop onto the couch or into your bed, you may want to check to make sure your doxie hasn’t nestled their way in there first.