My Jack Russell terrier keeps digging in the bed

Dr Pete Wedderburn / 18 September 2018

A reader writes to vet Pete Wedderburn to find out why her dog always digs in bed.



Question

My terrier has started digging in the bed and she won’t stop until we stroke her. What is she trying to do?

Answer

The word “terrier” is derived from the Latin word “terra” which means “earth”. Terriers have been bred over hundreds of years to dig in the ground, helping humans to dig out hunted animals like rabbits or foxes. For this reason, terriers have an ultra-strong instinct to dig, and they gain great satisfaction from the actions of pushing downwards with their snout and making digging motions with their paws.

She won’t understand why she’s doing this, but she just knows that it feels good. Be aware that by petting her at this time, you are rewarding her, and you could accidentally be encouraging her to do it more often. To stop her, pet her at times when she is not digging, and deliberately ignore her completely on any occasion when she is digging.

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