Why Do Dogs Dig?

Have you ever wonder why do dogs dig?

Digging is a frequent problem behavior in dogs, and many dog ​​owners experience this behavior eventually. It can be difficult to stop and can be  dangerous if your dog digs under the fence and run-off from the yard.

Understanding why your dog digs helps minimize this instinctive comportment.

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why do dogs dig


Dogs dig for many reasons, but primarily, this behavior dates back to their wolf ancestors.

Digging is a part of the dog’s world.

That instinctive tendency is why some breeds hunted animals in underground burrows.

That innate disposition is why humans used some breeds for hunting animals in underground dens.

In the case of certain breeds, like  terriers, the human intervention made the digging instinct even stronger.

So, we already know that digging is an instinctive canine behavior. But what is your dog expecting to achieve with all that digging?

The truth is, there are many different reasons why dogs like to dig.

These are the most common reasons why dogs dig.


Dogs with a high prey instinct will dig to hunt rodents or other small animals they can hear or smell underground.


Dogs dig to make a bed in the cool earth to beat the heat on a warm day.

Thick-coated breeds like the Alaskan Malamute or the Siberian Husky engage more in this behavior.

Also, pregnant females may also be inclined to dig as part of their instinct to make a burrow for their pups.


Some dogs like to bury things, like a treat or their favorite toy, to keep them safe. This storage behavior also comes from their wolf heritage. Unfortunately, they don’t always remember where they hid their treasure, which leads them to dig deeper as they search for their hidden gems.


Dogs will also dig to try to run-off from the yard or garden.

For many dogs, it’s just fun to excavate holes. This habit also helps ease bored dogs.

But, not all dogs will try to escape for fun; some will do it because they are anxious or afraid of being alone.


Since this behavior is instinctive, it is unlikely that you will be able to stop it completely.

But there are ways to minimize digging so your yard and garden don’t look like the moon.

Find out why your dog is digging. An anxious dog needs confidence, and a bored dog needs more stimulation. By identifying the cause, you will be more effective in reducing the behavior.

You can minimize the digging behavior and reduce damage to your yard by following these tips.

  • Make sure your dog gets plenty of daily mental and physical stimulation. Exercising will help keep the dog from being bored or anxious. It also provides more entertainment in the yard by giving your dog toys to distract him.
  • Occupy your dog with training sessions and exercise in the backyard so the dog knows that the backyard is for interacting with you instead of getting into trouble.
  • Anytime you catch your dog digging, redirect him to another activity, like playing catch. Reward this new behavior with praise and treats so your dog sees this action as more rewarding than digging.
  • Finally, even with toys and games, the yard is not a place for solitary confinement. Don’t leave your dog alone and unattended outside for long periods.


Despite all the best efforts to redirect your dog to stop digging, the tendency can still kick in. So why not accept it? If it brings your dog joy, find a way to make it work for you. The easiest way is to give your dog a place to dig. A litter box can work wonders in this way.

Bury rubber bones and other toys in the sand so your dog can find the treasures while exploring, and make the dig site more rewarding than the rest of the yard. Whenever your dog starts digging somewhere other than the digging spot, gently redirect him and reward any digging in that preferred spot.

While you won’t eliminate your dog urge to dig, you can still protect your yard from digging to minimize damage and maximize your dog’s safety.

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