Why Dogs Dig and How to Stop It
Apr 20, 2018

This is the time of year that many dog parents start to notice an increase in their pups desire to dig. So why do dogs dig and how can we stop it? Let’s start with the why.

Why Do Dogs Dig? 

She’s Hot

Dog laying on the grass with tongue out

In the summer month’s even dogs that don’t typically dig will often take up the habit, it’s an age-old mammalian way to cool off and your fur kid’s instincts may be kicking in. Even bears do it! Try hanging out in a fur suit on an 85-degree day, your aversion to lying in a cool pit of dirt will probably disappear pretty fast too!

Since dogs don’t have the ability to effectively cool themselves, it’s important to figure out if your dog is actually overheating. On days that stretch above the mid 80’s, it’s good practice to primarily keep her inside during the hottest hours, typically around 12 pm to 6 pm.

Digging is Fun

It’s great exercise, and as long as it hasn’t become an obsessive behavior it relieves stress as well. If your dog loves to dig and you have space, consider giving her a “digging pit. This is a growing trend in landscaping that many dog families are adopting, and can be an effective way to keep her from digging in undesirable areas.

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Border Collie found a bone

A great deal of digging is done in either the pursuit or the concealing of precious possessions, like half-eaten bones or eviscerated stuffed toys. This is her strategy for safe keeping and it’s so deeply rooted in her DNA that ending the practice can be like trying to stop the incoming tide. Her desire to find or conceal treasure is another great reason to designate a place where it’s okay to dig.

The other treasure can often be underground rodents; even a dog that has zero chance of ever catching a prey animal sometimes can’t resist the urge to hunt.

She’s Bored or Lonely

Dog Laying on the floor bored

Digging somewhere she’s not supposed to is a great way to get your attention! Think of a kid lying on the floor in full tantrum, sure it’s negative attention, but it’s still attention.

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She has an Escape Plan

Toy Poodle running fast

This is the not-so-cute side of why dogs dig, it’s not unusual for a bored or curious dog to figure out that they can dig underneath your fence. In fact, a sly dog can be so good at concealing their plan that their family has no idea an exit tunnel is underway until they come out to find that their fur baby has already fled the coop.

She’s Denning

Why do dogs dig holes in the ground? This is a close relative of digging pits to lie in, another throwback from their lupine DNA, pregnant wolves always find a den before giving birth and the instinct to be protected in a hollow or an underground cave is stronger in some dogs than in others. Digging hole in the ground can make a dog feel protected.

How to Stop Your Dog From Digging? Some Experts Tips

Plenty of Exercise and Love

Dachshund having fun playing firsbee

There are many ways to entertain your dog even if you’re not physically with her. Hire a walker, take her to daycare or consider picking up an interactive camera like Furbo. Furbo gives you a full view of what she’s up to while you’re away and when you sense she’s getting lonely you can actually speak to her, comfort her, and even toss her a few treats.

Fence off The Area

Dog peeking from a hole

Sometimes it’s enough to just enclose the “forbidden” area with some fencing. If not, some experts suggest stringing some strong twine across the top of the fencing to create a roof, just make sure it’s spaced widely enough that your flowers and plants have room to grow. Typically it becomes too much of effort for her when this is done and she’ll find something else to do.

Give Her a Digging Pit

As we mentioned giving your fur baby a place to dig and offering praise when she does can be the best solution for everyone. My malamute has a space filled with loose sand, she loves to dig it out and actually waits for us to fill it back in so she can restart the process. It’s fun to watch and it seems to make her happy!

Bury Some Chicken Wire

Chicken fence burried on the ground

It can be a solution when you’re wondering how to keep your dog from digging under a fence. This deters most dogs and it’s probably a good idea if you have a potential escapee on your hands. You can also line the parameter of your fence with some large rocks. Checking the fence area for budding tunnels is a good practice too. Keeping your dog from digging under a fence is definitely a safety issue that should be dealt with quickly.

Dalmatian on training lesson

If you still can’t figure out why your dog is digging and you’ve done what you can to stop it consider calling in a trainer. Good trainers have a knack for understanding the root of dog behavior issues and an outside opinion can be just what you need.

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