Why Do Dogs Dig?

Does your dog’s favorite activity involve tilling up piles of dirt in your otherwise beautifully-manicured lawn? Many dog owners share your frustration when their perfectly planted garden is run amok thanks to their digging dog. Perhaps your dog is otherwise quite well-behaved, except in this situation and it leaves you scratching your head wondering, why do dogs dig anyway? Understanding why they dig is helpful in learning to control their behavior. Let’s take a look at the reasons why dogs dig.

Genes Play a Role

A dog’s temperament is a reflection of their genetic makeup, and the tendency to dig is not an exception to that. For example, dogs that have been bred to hunt such as small hounds and terriers were bred to dig game out from their dens. If you happen to have groundhogs or other little creatures in your yard, chances are your dog will enjoy digging in an attempt to get to them.

Digging Relieves Stress

Some dogs simply find digging to be an enjoyable activity, as a way to relieve stress. According to the AKC, most dogs that dig regularly are either suffering from separation anxiety or are simply very bored. When a dog is left by himself for extended periods of time, he will often choose to dig to keep himself occupied. The reason they choose digging is because it provides both mental and physical stimulation.

They Are Trying to Escape

Some dogs are bound and determined to escape your yard. Perhaps you have a physical fence and they can’t jump high enough to climb over it. Instead, they have decided if they dig low enough, they can escape underneath it. They do their best to create a little tunnel, and crawl their way to freedom. If your dog has decided to become an escape artist, you may want to consider installing an electric dog fence, as they won’t be able to bypass it by digging.

They Are Creating a Den

Many times, your dog is just looking to create a cooler spot to escape the summer heat. When its cold or rainy, your dog may just be looking for protection from the elements. If you see that your dog is laying inside of the hole that he dug, this means that he is just “denning.”

Burying Hidden Treasure

If you gave your dog a nice juicy bone, he might make the choice to save it for later. Dogs also bury toys and other objects so that they can enjoy digging them up later.

Stopping Your Dog From Digging

In determining how you can stop your dog from digging, first look at the reason why he is digging in the first place.

  • If he is bored, try providing him with more playtime and exercise. Give him more toys and chews to play with.
  • If your dog is digging because your yard is full of rodents, then try and get rid of them.
  • If your dog is digging to make a hole to cool down in, try providing him with a baby pool that he can soak in when he needs a cool spot to chill in.
  • If your dog is digging to escape, as I mentioned, you should try an electric dog fence. Your dog won’t be able to dig underneath the fence without receiving a static correction. This will deter him from digging in the first place.
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