5 Reasons Why Dogs Like to Dig? What to Do About a Digging Dog?

Has your dog dug holes all over the yard? Is your fur baby prone to digging when he’s alone outside? Or do you have a Houdini dog who tries to dig himself out of the yard? If so, then you’ve come to the right place! 

Realize that you’re not alone! Many pet parents are exasperated by their fur babies who love to dig. Some of their dogs even dig into potted plants (in the house or outdoors). Digging dogs are one huge frustration, especially for pet parents who have nicely manicured yards, gardens, etc. 

5 Reasons Why Dogs Like to Dig? What to Do About a Digging Dog?

In this article, we’ll take a look at reasons your dog may be digging holes every chance he gets!

I. Reasons Dogs Love to Dig

Here are five common reasons that dogs love to dig. Let’s dig in! (Pun intended!)

1). It’s in the Genes

Genes make our fur babies who they are, and sometimes even drive them to certain behaviors. This is especially true of dogs that hunt or were bred for hunting in the past. These include all types of dogs, but especially small hounds and terriers. These breeds were intentionally bred with the digging habit. They used this talent to help dig animals out of their dens. 

These days, rather than hunting, your canine companion may still be following the instinct to dig. If you have small critters running around, such as gophers or mice, then your dog may be hunting them. When he finds them, he tries to dig them out of their holes. 

2). Entertainment

Another common cause for dogs digging is because they need something to do. Dogs digging for this reason are sometimes left in the yard alone most of the day, and they lack toys or other forms of entertainment. 

If your dog is fully energy, then most likely he’s also digging to work out his energy. Your yard may resemble a moonscape if you have a bored, energetic dog. 

3). A Method to Relieve Stress

Digging may also be caused if a dog is stressed—they’ll do anything to relieve themselves of this feeling. The stress may come from boredom, separation anxiety or even from being left alone in the yard for too long. So, as a distraction to relieve their stress, the dog begins to dig, and dig, and dig some more. 

How does digging offer stress relief? Digging helps give your dog something else to focus on, other than the stress he’s feeling. The physical work gives him both physical and mental release with the focus on digging. If your fur baby is highly stressed, he may become obsessive about digging holes in the yard. 

4). Denning Behavior

In the wild, canines create a den, which is shelter from all types of weather. Our domesticated dogs still have this instinct. In fact, if your fur baby digs in his create or his bed before lying down, this is the same behavior to den he’s inherited from his wild ancestors. 

Dogs may try to dig a den for various reasons. They may need shelter from the hot sun, or the cold winter wind. They may need to find a dry place to stay until the rain stops. 

5). The Houdini Dog: Escape is Essential

Then there are dogs who are committed to escaping every crate, yard, room they can. The reason for escaping may be tied to anxiety, stress, boredom, or maybe the dog has wanderlust. If your fur baby is in a fenced in yard, he may try going over the fence, first. Afterall, this is usually the easiest way to get out of a fenced in yard. However, if that fails, he may turn to digging his way out—or trying to do so. 

Dogs are effective digging machines if you hadn’t noticed! It’s very easy for them to dig under any type of fence—from chain-link fences, to wood fences and more. In no time, a dog can dig a tunnel, and you may not even notice. 

5 Reasons Why Dogs Like to Dig? What to Do About a Digging Dog?

II. What to Do About a Digging Dog

We understand it’s frustrating to find your dog digging up the yard. However, digging for dogs is a natural instinct; you’ll first need to accept this. So, what can you do? The first thing is to try to figure out what’s causing your canine companion to dig. This may not be an easy process, but it’s doable. 

Just observe your dog while he’s out in the yard. You may notice what causes him to dig; for instance, you may see him chasing small critters around the yard. When they go into a hole, then your fur baby begins to try to dig them out. 

If you’re not able to figure out what’s causing him to dig, then you can try these methods to curb his digging instincts: 

Add interest to the yard: try to add toys and other interesting things to your fur baby’s yard. This way, he’ll have a chance to work off his energy and boredom by staying busy with other fun stuff. If your dog doesn’t stop digging, then you may need to try fencing off an area in the yard, away from the garden, etc. where your canine companion can go and dig to his heart’s content. 

Exercise: this is a great way to relieve many of the issues listed in this article that could be causing your pup to dig. Exercise helps highly active dogs release all the pent-up energy they have stored. Without all that energy, you may find your fur baby stops digging simply because he’s too tired! In addition, exercise can relieve boredom, stress, and anxiety, too. Your dog loves to spend time with you and wants to be with you. Taking time out of your day to be with your fur baby makes him happy and lets him know you love him. 

Housing: if your dog is digging to get away from the elements, then be sure to provide him with a waterproof, insulated doghouse for when he’s in the yard. Make sure there’s a soft, warm blanket or other bedding available, too. This adds comfort, as well as protection against cold and damp. Bring him in the house, more, too. This can relieve separation anxiety and stress at the same time. 

Escape: for dogs who are digging out, under a fence, it will be necessary to install fencing that goes down into the ground about 5-6 feet. That may seem like overkill, but dogs are excellent diggers! You want to keep your fur baby safe and in the yard, too.

We hope this article helps you to figure out what’s causing your dog to dig up the yard. And we hope you’ve been able to find some suggestions to help him stop being the excellent mover of earth that he is!

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