The Reason Why Dogs Dig (and How to Make Them to Stop)

iStock/boschettophotography
iStock/boschettophotography

Digging is a totally normal canine behavior, but that doesn't make it any less annoying. If your dog is spending hours tearing up the backyard, or attempting to burrow holes into your couch, you're no doubt anxious to find a way to make it stop. The most effective way to get to the bottom of the problem, and curb your pup's desire to destroy everything in the path of their overactive paws, is to first understand why they are digging, according to The Dog People.

If your dog is digging random holes throughout your yard, it is most likely because they smell or hear something underground and are trying to get to it. In this case, digging a larger hole where it is acceptable for them to dig can keep them from digging all over the yard. Train them to dig only there by burying treats in that hole for them to find.

Another cause of unwanted digging is boredom and a lack of exercise. Puppies and high-energy dogs need a certain amount of exercise to work off all the energy they have. If they aren’t getting enough, they might turn to digging to take care of that. Make sure your dog gets plenty of playtime and take them on walks when you can.

Like a toddler, dogs can easily be distracted by a toy. If your dog seems to be digging out of boredom, try giving them a new tennis ball or dental chew.

Dogs that have very specific spots in which they dig can be stopped by adding digging deterrents to soil, especially those that are strong-smelling or uncomfortable-feeling. Burying flat rocks or plastic chicken wire will make it uncomfortable for a dog to dig, for example, and burying citrus peels, cayenne, or vinegar will make the smell while digging very unpleasant to them.

A dog could also be trailing the smell of a gopher, squirrel, rat, or other rodent while digging up your backyard. One sign of this is if they are digging near trees or plants. If this is the case, try getting rid of the rodents and see if your dog’s behavior changes.

Some dogs will dig in order to find a spot to cool down during hot weather. By helping your dog cool off, you can prevent the bad habit.

Bizarre New Giant Salamander Species Discovered in Florida

There’s something in the water in Florida, but it’s not the swamp monster locals may have feared. According to National Geographic, scientists have discovered a new species of giant salamander called a reticulated siren, and you can find the 2-foot-long amphibian in the swamps of southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

Locals have long reported seeing a creature with leopard-like spots, the body of an humongous eel, and axolotl-like frills sprouting out of the sides of its head, but its existence wasn’t described in scientific literature until now. Researchers from Texas and Georgia recently published their findings in the journalPLOS ONE.

“It was basically this mythical beast,” David Steen, a wildlife ecologist and one of the paper’s co-authors, tells National Geographic. He had been trapping turtles at the Eglin Air Force Base in Okaloosa County, Florida, in 2009 when he caught one of the creatures by chance. After that encounter, the researchers set out to find more specimens.

Colloquially, locals have long been calling the creature a leopard eel. Because the reticulated siren only has two tiny front limbs, it's easy to mistake it for an eel. Its hind limbs disappeared throughout the course of millions of years of evolution, and it also lacks eyelids and has a beak instead of the teeth that are typical of other salamander species.

They belong to a genus of salamanders called sirens, which are one of the largest types of salamander in the world. The second part of the species’ name comes from the reticulated pattern seen on all of the individuals that were examined by researchers. The reticulated siren is also one of the largest vertebrates to be formally described by scientists in the U.S. in the last 100 years, according to the paper.

There are still a lot of unknowns about the reticulated siren. They lead hidden lives below the surface of the water, and they’re thought to subsist on insects and mollusks. Researchers say further study is urgently needed because there's a chance the species could be endangered.

[h/t National Geographic]

Forget Therapy Puppies—Michigan State Students Brush Cows to De-Stress for Finals

iStock.com/123ducu
iStock.com/123ducu

As more universities are coming to understand just how stressful the rigors of modern academics can be, many institutions have begun bringing dogs onto campus to soothe anxious students during finals week. At Michigan State University, students have a more unique option to help them de-stress: cow time.

According to Click on Detroit, the recent "Finals Stress mooove on out!" event gave students the chance to brush cows at Michigan State's Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center just south of the school's main campus. For $10, participants spent 30 minutes brushing one of the school's 200 dairy cows, an activity designed to relax both the human and the cow.

Not all students come to college with a working knowledge of large-ruminant etiquette, so MSU farm manager Andrea Meade was on hand to show students what to do, prevent them from accidentally spooking the animals, and answer questions about milking and dairy practices.

Studies have shown that petting dogs can help lower your blood pressure, but dogs aren't the only animals that provide people with a psychological boost. A number of animals have been found to help relax humans (though the effect tends to be greater when it's a familiar animal rather than one the person just met), including cows. One 2011 study in Norway found that after working on a dairy farm for 12 weeks, psychiatric patients showed lower levels of anxiety and depression.

And the cows need to be brushed whether there are students there or not, so the event presented a mutually beneficial situation. Many dairies employ automated brush systems to keep cows clean and stimulate blood flow, keeping them happier and healthier in the process.

You don't need to be a student to enjoy the calming effects of cattle, though. Upstate New York's Mountain Horse Farm's hour-long "cow cuddling" sessions let you pet, brush, and play with new bovine friends for $75.

[h/t Click on Detroit]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER