Why do dogs dig holes?

While your dog may enjoy digging, it can be quite annoying for you, the owners. Not only can digging be very destructive to your property, it could also give our beloved pups a possible escape route.

So why do our dogs suddenly dig holes, and how can you stop it?

There are a variety of different reasons your dog may be digging in your back yard. All of them are behavioural, which means you should be able to train them out of this habit.

In this article, we’ll discuss several reasons why dogs suddenly start digging holes. You’ll also learn a few ways you can bring an end to this behaviour.

It’s in their genes

The action of digging is ingrained in a dog’s DNA. While this impulse may be present in all dogs in some form, the need to dig is stronger in some breeds than others.

Humans played a huge role in creating dogs that are drawn to digging holes. By selectively breeding the pups that were excellent diggers, we have been left with digging professionals.

Because of this, the urge to dig has remained present in many of the breeds in our home today. Some of the breeds that enjoy digging the most include Jack Russell Terriers, Dachshund, Siberian huskies, and Beagles.

They are seeking prey

Though our furry friends may be far from their wild roots, they still enjoy chasing after potential prey. Small mammals and bugs can make their way onto your property, stirring up a dog’s prey drive.

Not only can a passing animal cause a dog to dig in hope of finding them, but their scent can cause a dog to dig as well. Animal droppings and leftover scents can trigger a dog’s urge to hunt, leading to digging in certain areas.

They are relieving stress

Many dogs resort to certain canine behaviours when they are stressed or anxious Digging can be a pleasurable activity for many dogs offering them an outlet for their current struggle.

A dog may turn to digging if they are left alone for long periods, not getting enough exercise, dealing with the addition of a new dog in the home, and more. If your dog’s digging began after a potentially stressful event, this could be the cause of their sudden digging.

They are bored

Our dogs rely on mental and physical stimulation each day to keep them happy and can experience stress when these needs are not met. When their energy levels boil over and they become frustrated, your yard may take the brunt of this or you may see other forms of destructive behaviour.

They are hiding a treasure

Some dogs like hiding their “treasure” in a safe place, ensuring that they are the only ones who can enjoy it. One way to do this is by digging holes in their favourite spot of the yard, then burying their favourite dog toys or bones in the process.

If you see your pup carrying their prized possessions around the yard before they dig, they may be trying to hide a treasure.

They are denning

Just as some dogs have an ingrained need to dig, some dogs feel an overpowering urge to create a den. Wild dogs would create burrows in the ground to protect themselves and their pups against the elements, offering them a cosy area to feel secure. This instinct is why you may notice your dog digging in his blankets as he is getting settled, as this is a part of their comfort process.

This is also why crate training is effective, and why a lot of dogs prefer a crate to sleep in.

They want to escape

Some dogs have an undying need to run free. If an escape artist can’t find a way to jump over or through an obstacle, they may turn to the next option: going under. If a dog can dig a deep enough hole, it may be successful in escaping from its yard. Fences don’t often go deep underground, giving them the perfect escape tunnel if they are dedicated enough to their digging.


Ways to stop digging behaviour

To help you protect your yard from countless holes, here are some ways to stop canine digging.

Offer more exercise

If digging behaviour starts when they are bored, implementing extra exercise may be enough to end the behaviour. By tiring them out a bit more each day, they will no longer feel the need to turn to any destructive behaviour. A well-exercised pup is often a well-behaved pup!

Pest control

It’s extremely hard for a dog to ignore critters that make their way into your yard. Because of this, you will often need to eliminate the pest from your yard to see a decrease in your dog’s digging habits. Just be sure that your pest control option is safe for your pup!

Offer them shelter

If your dog likes to dig and create dens, it may benefit from the addition of a dog shelter in your yard. You can place a cosy doghouse in the areas that they usually dig, offering them a safe space to call their own.

Put up obstacles

If you notice digging near the base of your fence, you may need to make it more challenging for them to dig in that area. You can do this by placing stones at the base of the fence, planting bushes around the perimeter of the yard, or any other obstacle that can keep your pup away.

Mental stimulation

One of the best ways to prevent your dog from digging is by offering other distractions when they are outside. You can do this by playing a game of fetch, playing tug of war, or any other activity that will offer them mental stimulation outside of digging. These activities can also help in offering them extra exercise.


As you can see, our canine companions turn to digging for many reasons. Therefor you’ll need to use different training methods to stop or prevent the behaviour from happening. Hopefully with the information above, you should be able to put an end to this pesky behaviour once and for all!

Ref: Loveyourdog.com / akc.org


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The information contained in this website is not intended to replace guidance from your veterinarian. Bowen Therapy and Homeopathy are complementary to veterinary treatment and the general care of the animal.