When it comes to dogs digging, not all digging is the same. There are a wide variety of reasons for why dogs dig and depending on the reason, how to stop it may vary. Some dogs dig to escape, some to stay cool or warm up, as entertainment, because they are anxious, to keep their most prized items safe, or to get to critters. So here are a few answers to the question “why is my dog digging?”
It’s important to understand that digging is an instinct in canines. And certain breeds of dogs, like terriers and some hounds were specifically bred for their amazing ability to dig out game (foxes, rats, badgers, etc.). In these cases redirecting digging will be a little harder.
Dog digging to reach a better temperature:
Most of our dogs here in Texas will be digging to reach cooler temperatures. The deeper you dig the cooler the soil will feel on a hot summer day. Many dogs, especially when left outside for long periods of time on a hot day, will dig in the yard to cool off. However, digging to keep warm has been used by dogs in super cold climates for ages. Huskies and Malamutes have this behavior in their genes so even if it is not super cold, they might dig like they would in the snow to form a little den where they will be protected from ice and wind.
Dogs digging as entertainment:
While dogs do like to sleep for long periods of time, many dogs are under stimulated in our sedentary lives. Many dogs will dig to keep themselves entertained whether you are home or not. After all, digging can be super fun. The scents and flavors mixed with the physical activity can be quite alluring to a dog who has lots of energy or is just feeling a bit bored.
Dog digging for critters:
Like we mentioned before, many dogs have been bred to dig after game. Scent hounds and terriers have been bred for hundreds of years to dig after rats, find burrows where game might hide, etc. Finding critters and game is also instinctual, even if your dog is well fed, hunting is a part of canine existence. Most of our dogs don’t need to hunt because we provide a wholesome diet, but that doesn’t mean their instinct to find food will all of a sudden turn off. This is why some dogs will dig in the garbage, the amount of food there is quite the bounty.
Dog digging to bury something:
Digging is often used by dogs as a means to keeping valued items safe. This goes back to our dogs’ ancestors in the wild. Eating the entire bounty in one sitting was hard. Digging a whole to bury the rest was a great way to keep leftovers. After all, our dogs can be entertained with a bone on and off for several years. So it is no surprise to find our dogs hiding specific items. Dogs will dig, bury the item and then dig them up to bury them in a new spot, sometimes this includes burying in their bedding. We’ve had clients with dogs who steal anything from underwear, socks, chew toys, bones, kids toys, etc. just to bury them in the yard for safe keeping.
Many dogs suffer from anxiety, and separation anxiety can be a big reason for digging. There are two reasons why an anxious dog might dig. First, the dog is trying to get to a family member who has left; second, the dog is trying to use up that extra nervous energy.
Some dogs dig to escape, not because there is anything wrong with their yard, but because the possibilities on the other side are endless. After all, there is a reason for the saying “the grass is greener on the other side”.
Dogs can pick up scents from things going on quite far away. Maybe the neighbor’s dog wants to play, or someone is having a BBQ, or there is a scent of road kill drifting in the air.
Escape digging is also a big problem with unaltered dogs. Intact males escaping to mate with a female in heat, and females in heat searching for intact males.
Escape digging can also be attributed to fearful dogs. The dog is trying to get away from something in the yard, it can be anything from red ants, to movers, electrical currents from outdoor outlets, fear of storms, mowers, etc.
Now that you know some of the reasons why your dog might be digging, spend a few days observing. Does the digging happen when you are there, after exercise, does the dog seem scared to go into the yard, etc. if you can figure out the reason for your dog’s digging, fining the answers to stop digging will be simpler. Find out techniques to stop the digging coming soon, right here on our blog.