Springer spaniels love to dig. While they are not one of the top 10 dogs that do it obsessively, it’s still a natural behavior for this breed because they rely on digging to flush their prey out during the hunt.
Another reason Springer spaniels dig is to hide their bones for later retrieval. Digging is also a great way for these dogs to remove the top layer of surface debris to get to the cooler lower layer so that they have a more comfortable spot to sleep on.
Of course, Springer spaniels can simply dig just for the joy of it, especially when they get bored.
This behavior can be annoying for the pet owner and is potentially dangerous for the dog as well.
The last thing any pet owner wants is to have their Springer dig a hole under the fence in order to escape and then get run over by a car.
So, the trick is to find the balance between allowing your Springer to do what is completely natural to them and dissuading your pooch from unwanted digging.
Locate the Reason Behind the Digging
You first need to be sure that what you’re dealing with is destructive digging. In the end, you don’t want to completely prevent your Springer spaniel from digging, especially when you have no idea what their motivation was in the first place.
There is nothing more annoying than having scratch marks all over the doors of your home or to have a ruined carpet to come back home to.
It’s also not fun to have potholes all over the garden, especially in your beautiful bed of roses and other gorgeous plants that you’re trying to grow.
And, let’s not forget those muddy days when your Springer spaniel comes running back in the house after digging in the mud.
Yes, these are all very annoying behaviors that can drive any dog owner crazy.
At this point, the first reaction is to shout at your Springer spaniel and punish them for this bad behavior.
You’ll be making a big mistake, because it doesn’t mean that your dog will simply stop just because you yelled at them. Most likely, your Springer spaniel won’t understand why you’re screaming at them, and all you’ll be doing is adding to the anxiety that they might already have which led them to this digging behavior in the first place.
Yes, anxiety can lead to destructive digging. However, it’s not the only reason why dogs dig, so don’t rely on this as the only answer.
In fact, here is a list of the main reasons why Springer spaniels dig destructively:
When you look at the reasons above, I think you can agree that the one suffering the most is your dog and not you, correct?
All of those are very negative emotions, and your Springer spaniel is most likely looking for a way out. One of the most natural ways for her to do this is by digging.
It therefore makes sense that if you can do your best to eliminate those negative emotions from your Springer, she’ll most likely not indulge obsessively in destructive digging.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Give Your Springer Spaniel More Attention
Springer spaniels need to be close to their family members. It’s their natural trait, and is one of the reasons why people opt for one of these dogs.
When you adopt a Springer spaniel in your life, you need to do so knowing that you will provide them with lots of attention and one-on-one time.
Do this, and you will have a very happy Springer who will adore you even more.
Unfortunately, this amazing trait is also one of the main reasons why Springer spaniels suffer from separation anxiety.
When you go to work during the day, it means that your Springer is most likely going to be alone for many hours. This can be very stressful for your pooch, and one of the ways in which they try to relieve this stress is by obsessive licking, chewing, barking, howling, whining, and digging.
If you know that you’re going to be away from your pooch for long periods of time, it’s important that you gradually train them to get used to the situation. This is normally done with positive reinforcement, and there are many books written on this topic for dog owners in helping their Springer spaniels to manage their anxiety.
When you are at home with them, it’s important to give them that one-on-one time that they need. When you’re away, I highly recommend that you find someone such as a close friend or family member to check in on your pooch every now and then and to give them the attention they deserve.
You might even want to consider hiring a dog sitter or someone to take your pooch out for a walk to help them relieve the anxiety that’s most likely building up during the day.
What you don’t want to do is to give them too much attention at the wrong times, especially just before you leave for work or come back home, because this only increases the problem. Imagine having so much attention, and then in a snap of the finger, it all just disappears. The idea is to balance the amount of attention you give your Springer throughout the day so that they see it as a normal occurrence in their life.
The younger your Springer spaniel is when you train them to deal with separation anxiety, the better it will be for you and your pooch in the long run.
Exercise Your Springer Spaniel More Often
Exercise is a great stress reliever, and this is no different for dogs. The more you exercise your Springer, the less likely they will have the urge to dig.
I recommend taking your Springer out at least three times a day, with the first and last exercise sessions being no less than one hour in length.
During this time, let your dog run around in the park and dig to their hearts content.
It’s also a good time to play catch with them. The more you can get your Springer spaniel to run around, the less energy they will have left over once they go back home.
When Springer spaniels don’t have the ability to expend their energy, they can become anxious and restless. The first thing that will probably come to mind is to dig.
They are most likely digging as a way to search for something and in the hopes that that thing will relieve the restlessness and anxiousness that there feeling at the moment.
Digging also means that they can escape from the place that is prohibiting them from expending that energy.
When they’re tired and feel fulfilled with the exercise sessions you give them throughout the day, there is no need for them to continue digging.
Give Your Springer Spaniel More Mental Stimulation
Exercising your Springer’s brain is a great way to help curb her boredom. Remember, these dogs are highly intelligent, and if they don’t have the means of mental stimulation, they will begin to show negative behaviors such as destructive digging and chewing.
Make sure that your Springer has lots of puzzle toys to keep her busy. The more she is preoccupied with things to do, the less likely she will use digging as a way to help curb her boredom.
Provide Your Springer with Her Very Own Digging Spot
This is a great way to balance prohibition of destructive digging with allowing your Springer to dig legally.
By providing her with a designated digging spot, you’re showing your Springer spaniel that it’s okay to dig, as long as it’s not in the wrong places.
You could also turn this digging spot into a fun place for mental stimulation.
For example, you could hide lots of fun treasures for your Springer to dig up, and it’s an effective way to use positive reinforcement to channel her destructive digging to more legal forms of digging in this area, especially when your pooch is unsupervised.
Just be sure that the place you designate is safe for your Springer spaniel to dig in. Also, don’t rely on this approach only. It is still important to look at all the other suggestions mentioned above and to implement them on a regular basis.
Springer spaniels might not be in the list of the top 10 breeds that obsessively dig, but it doesn’t mean that they won’t dig destructively if you don’t identify the issue behind this negative behavior.
Remember, digging in itself is not a negative behavior. It is completely natural for Springer spaniels, and if you try to completely forbid them from digging, you will be providing a very unhappy environment for your pooch to live in.
You need to find the right balance when training your Springer not to dig for the wrong reasons. The best approach is to use positive reinforcement and to have a great deal of empathy for your dog. If you’re unsure about why your pooch is behaving this way, I recommend that you hire a professional expert in dog behavior as they will be able to help find the reason behind destructive digging.
Through patience, consistency and empathy, you should be able to curb destructive digging while still allowing your dog to hide their bones, digging for the fun of it, and enjoying your company in the process.