There are many things that animals do that seem odd and silly. From running in circles to barking at random things, their actions don't seem to add up at times. Yet over time, we have learned from them and discovered why our dogs do what they do. One odd behavior that dogs seem to participate in often is burrowing. There are many reasons as to why dogs participate in this act, and it seems to bring them immense amounts of comfort and safety that they need, depending on where they are at. Learning about why they burrow and how it helps or harms them can help humans better care for dogs.
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The Root of the Behavior
Burrowing seems like an activity all dogs want to participate in, and in today’s world, it may be. This behavior began many years ago, when wild animals would create a safe haven for their offspring for protection and warmth, as well as for a hiding place for their food. Although this action is not needed anymore, it still is ingrained in dogs today, and is used for many other reasons. Depending on the breed of dog, some breeds will burrow more than others, but all dogs will burrow to some degree. If your dog loves to bury himself under your covers in your bed, creating a warm spot for himself, it is for security. This may be why crates are helpful for dogs, as the contained area helps your dog feel safe, secure, and warm. It may also help ease their anxiety, fear, or stress, in times of panic.
The most obvious reason for burrowing is comfort. Just as humans love to be warm and comfortable in their homes, so do dogs. Being in a place that brings that comfort can sooth them and bring calmness to their life. If your dog tends to burrow in your bed next to you, it can be a bonding experience with your dog. They are creating a safe space for them to feel comfortable while they relax next to the person they love. When your dog is with you and close, it brings them warmth and belonging. It can also be how your animal sleeps. Beyond comfort, safety, and instinctual behavior, dogs also will burrow because they get cold and being in a small space can bring warmth. Sometimes, burrowing may seem sporadic and obsessive, and if so, you may want to get your dog checked by the veterinarian. It could be an issue that is more at hand than the casual need for comfort, such as excessive anxiety or fear.
Encouraging the Behavior
If your dog enjoys the act of burrowing, it should very much be encouraged. Burrowing can help keep your animal feeling safe and secure, and whether they are sleeping or relaxing around the house, you should allow your animal to burrow. If you do not want your dog burrowing because they are getting into your stuff, or it seems a bit off to you, it may be wise to redirect them over to their bed area for sleeping and feeling comfortable. If the burrowing seems obsessive or is happening due to a problem like excessive fear or anxiety, it may be best to get your dog adjusted or even checked out with the veterinarian. Sometimes, the energy behind burrowing can be hyper and chaotic, and if this is the case, you may want to help your dog calm down, and train them to burrow in a proper way for comfort and safety. If their energy is wild when they are burrowing, you may want to exercise them more, so their energy is calmer when they go to burrow. This way, they will not make a mess digging in your backyard, or ruin any blankets or furniture that they try to burrow under.
Other Solutions and Considerations
There are many reasons that dogs love to burrow themselves into a contained space. Whether that is due to fear and anxiety or the need for warmth and security, it is a helpful tool that is ingrained in their breed. Everyone loves to feel safe and loved, even those who can’t speak.