Why Do Dogs Dig?

Does your dog dig? Dogs dig holes in the ground for a variety of reasons, and it can be surprising to learn that digging isn’t necessarily bad behaviour. In fact, it’s quite normal for dogs to dig.

The truth is, some dogs dig just because.

Reasons Dogs Dig

  • Hunting: Few dogs can escape their natural instincts to hunt small animals, many of which such as moles live underground. Some dogs dig in an effort to catch these critters.
  • Burying: Some dogs will choose to hide their favourite things underground in order to keep them safe and protect them from outsiders that may steal them. In fact, you may notice your dog hiding its toys or treats under furniture or objects in your home for later.
  • To keep cool: Digging can be a great way for dogs that spend a lot of time outside to keep cool on hot days, because the layer of dirt underneath the warm top layer is usually cool and moist. If this is the reason your dog digs, you’ll find them laying down in these holes.
  • Just for fun: The truth is, some dogs dig just because. They may be lacking in outside entertainment and enjoy digging as much as they do running around when outdoors, or do it just through habit.

There are some problem behaviours associated with digging, including digging because the dog wants to eat dirt, wants to escape or has other behavioural issues like separation anxiety.

If your dog is digging to keep cool, to bury objects or just to entertain itself when outdoors, that doesn’t mean that you have to have a backyard full of holes. You can build a digging pit for your dog and encourage your dog to only dig in one area using treats or positive reinforcement such as toys or praise.

One method that some people recommend is to bury your dog’s own poop where they like to dig to prevent them from digging in that spot, although this is really only a solution if you want the dog to not dig in that specific spot and digging elsewhere is okay – they may just find somewhere else to dig.