You’re probably scratching your head at the way your furry friend keeps digging holes in your backyard. As your dog creates larger craters in your garden, it would be nice to know why dogs dig and why they keep digging.
If you think it’s time to stop the dugout holes, the flying dirt, and the ruined landscape, then it’s time to pause and think about your dog’s behavior. After understanding what makes your dog act the way he does, then you can start correcting his digging.
Top Reasons Why Dogs Dig
Dogs love to dig. It’s one of the most common behaviors we see in dogs both in real life and on television.
There are many reasons why dogs dig. Some of this behavior is their instinct. It can also be due to their desire to play.
Digging as a Dog Instinct
Dogs can have an instinct designed to protect their own food or property. It’s a carryover trait from the old days when canines had to compete with other animals for the same food or place.
Digging can be an instinctual behavior to hide buried food, bones and now toys from other canines and predators. Dogs who are trying to chase a particular bird from next door or a passing cat can also start digging to follow their so-called prey.
Even if your dog has nothing to bury or uncover, they may still be exercising this behavior due to genetics. Some dogs are naturally inclined to dig due to genetics. Hunting dogs, such as terriers, have been known for their habit of digging.
When pregnant dogs dig, her behavior can also be part of a nesting instinct. Pregnant dogs want space that feels small, sheltered and cool in the hot weather. Even non-pregnant dogs can seek the shelter of dug holes and treat them as dens.
Dogs Digging for Fun and Adventure
Is your dog digging near your gate or under a fence? It may be a signal that your dog wants to go an adventure outside. He may attempt to get out of your yard by actively digging a hole. Dogs can be quite the escape artist. Wildlife or activity outside your fence can entice your dog to continue to dig in hopes of escaping. Sometime neighbor’s dogs are enticement for your dog to join his new friend!
Some dogs might see you use the shovel when gardening and think that it’s fun. They may even believe they’re helping you do your chores.
If instincts aren’t at play, your dog might just be digging because there’s nothing else to do. In fact, a common reason why dogs dig is due to boredom. Providing interesting bones or toys outside can help decrease this type of digging behavior.
Digging as Doggie Anxiety Relief
Dogs can start exhibiting repetitive and destructive behavior if they’re working through anxiety and stress. In these cases, dogs may be attempting to leave their yard to get to a family member.
Correcting Your Dog’s Behavior
When your dog’s digging behavior becomes destructive and excessive, it’s time to correct the behavior. In order to correct the habit, first identify the motivation to dig.
Here’s a summary of the reasons why dogs dig:
- Instinctual behavior to protect food from other predators
- Chase of another animal
- Nesting instinct by pregnant dogs
- Denning instinct for shelter
- Attempt to escape from the backyard
- Desire to play or avoid boredom
- Copy your gardening behavior
- Relieve anxiety
Once you understand a little bit more about your dog, you only need a bit more patience and persistence to correct the behavior.
If your furry friend is looking for more fun and less boredom, maybe it’s time to give him more exercise. Try to go out on longer or more frequent walks. Play more games with your dog so that he’ll tire out and feel satisfied with the day’s adventure.
If your dog is attempting to escape to play with the neighbor’s dog, you can attempt to arrange play dates. If your dog gets to regularly interact with the neighbor’s dog, he will be less inclined to dig to attempt to get to him.
Provide him with mental and physical stimulation to curb the feelings of anxiety. It’s essential to make sure that he is safely confined in your yard with adequate fencing. You can also work with a trainer to deal with anxiety issues.
Some reasons for digging may be more challenging to address than others. For example, dogs with a genetic predisposition for digging can be harder to redirect to other activities. Dogs that prefer self-constructed dens that they make themselves by digging can also resist your efforts.
However, at the end of the day, it’s essential to understand why dogs dig instead of punishing them. Substitute a more appropriate activity that your dog likes and reward him. He will engage in this healthier behavior and less in the destructive behavior of digging.
Training Your Dog to Stop Digging
Not all dogs will happily stop just because you reinforce fencing or increase the number of walks. Some of our friends need more complex training to deal with issues like anxiety, stress, and genetic predisposition.
With a good trainer onboard, your dog will be happy to let go of their digging habit. Kimberly Gracner is a Certified Canine Behavior Counselor Certified Professional Dog Trainer. Call her at 636-352-3104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today!