This is a cute video, but also brings up a good point.
Almost every time we get a contact form filled out for an adult dachshund we read in the problems section about the dog digging holes in the backyard.
Did you know that dachshunds were selectively bred to be extremely proficient diggers? So if you own one that means that your dog’s genetics were manipulated in a way to make them extremely proficient at digging, and also to have a high desire to do so. 100 years ago if a dachshund wasn’t interested in digging, it was culled from the breeding program therefor fine tuning the genetics to create these ultimate tunneling machines.
Very few dogs were ever bred to be couch potato companions. Just a century ago the majority of dogs were still purpose bred animals that worked for a living.
Let’s consider another common request we get, “Can you train my dog to stop barking in the backyard whenever my neighbor is working in his yard?” Here’s another bit of dog trivia knowledge: Did you know that many of the protective breeds such as Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Dobermans, etc., had to pass courage tests if they were going to be included in breeding programs? Some of these courage tests included things like placing the dog in a fenced in area, having the owner of the dog leave the area, and then having a stranger approach the fence. The dog would be expected to engage with the stranger in an attempt to prevent them from crossing the fence. Barking aggressively, lunging, attempting to bite if the stranger was close enough, etc. these were all desired behaviors. Again, what does this mean for our modern dogs? Well it means that we as humans altered their genetics so that we could increase the likelihood of certain breed characteristics and traits.
If someone had a pet cheetah and they called me up to ask me if I could train their cheetah to stop chasing the neighbor’s gazelles, everyone would laugh in that person’s face right? Why? Because that’s what cheetahs are supposed to do isn’t it? It’s in their DNA, they’re genetically predisposed to do cheetah things!
Now, I’m not saying you should make excuses for having an untrained dog. What I am saying is a lot more thought could go into properly fulfilling many of your dog’s genetically enhanced instincts.
If I owned a dachshund I would either provide enough mentally stimulating activity throughout the day that his desires to dig holes would be satisfied through mental exertion in other areas, or I might even have a sand box for a designated digging area in my yard and just let him go nuts.
If I owned a German Shepherd I wouldn’t get mad at him for barking his head off in the backyard while the neighbor is weed eating. I’d be putting him to work doing other things as opposed to leaving him in the backyard unattended where he has nothing better to do than let his ancestral roots shine through.
Training can help to give a dog a purpose, or a job so to speak so that they can have an outlet where this physical and mental energy can be put to good use. Sometimes that’s all it takes, other times we need to get the dog involved in some type of specialized sport training. Either way, be sure you’re doing your part in fulfilling your dog’s genetic desires, before blaming them for finding a job. If there is a void in your dog’s life, they will fill it.