Why Do Dogs Dig Holes: You Wouldn’t Believe It

Dogs are curious creatures. And, as any dog owner knows, they have an incredible knack for finding trouble. Whether it’s raiding the trash can or chewing on your favorite pair of shoes, dogs always seem to be getting into mischief.

One of the most common ways dogs get themselves into trouble is by digging holes in the yard.

You may be wondering why your dog insists on digging holes, and what you can do to stop him.

Wonder no more – read on to find out everything you need to know about why do dogs dig holes and 8 effective ways to stop them.

Believe it or not, there are some good reasons behind their strange behavior!

Why Do Dogs Dig Holes – 7 Possible Reasons

A dog’s instinct is to dig. Dogs have been known to dig for many reasons, including:

#1 – Boredom or Anxiety

If your dog is bored, he may start digging to relieve his boredom. This is especially true if he doesn’t have anything else to do, such as toys or other forms of stimulation.

Dogs can also become anxious when they’re left alone for long periods. This can lead to destructive behaviors like chewing and digging.

#2 – Seeking Prey

Many dogs were bred to hunt. And, even though your dog may not be actively hunting these days, his natural instinct to dig for prey is still there.

This instinct is especially strong in terriers, who were originally bred to hunt small animals like rodents and rabbits.

If your dog starts digging near a hole in the ground, there’s a good chance he’s looking for something to hunt.

dog digging a hole

#3 – Relieving Stress

Dogs can get stressed just like humans. And, just like humans, they may relieve that stress by engaging in destructive behaviors.

Digging is a common way for dogs to relieve stress. If your dog is stressed, he may start digging holes as a way to release that stress. The physical act of digging can be therapeutic for dogs, and it may help to calm them down.

#4 – Natural Instinct

As mentioned above, digging is a natural instinct for dogs. Many dogs dig simply because it’s in their nature to do so.

This is especially true for breeds that were originally bred for hunting or working. These dogs were often required to dig holes to find prey or reach their target.

Even if your dog isn’t a hunting or working breed, he may still have the instinct to dig.

#5 – Burying Treasures

Dogs like to bury their food and toys as a way to store them for later. This behavior is instinctual and it’s often done as a way to protect their food from other animals.

If your dog starts burying his toys in the yard, he’s probably just trying to save them for later.

#6 – Temperature Regulation

Dogs use digging to regulate their body temperature. When it’s hot outside, dogs will often dig holes to lie in. The cool earth can help to cool them down and make them more comfortable.

In the winter, dogs may dig holes in the snow as a way to find warmth. By digging a hole, they can create a small pocket of warm air to curl up in.

#7 – Escaping Your Yard

If they are bored or anxious, a dog may start digging under the fence to try to escape your yard. This is especially true if he doesn’t have access to a lot of toys or other forms of stimulation.

dog digging under the fence

Dogs may also try to escape if they’re not getting enough exercise. If your dog isn’t getting enough physical activity, he may start digging to try to find a way out of your yard so he can run and explore.

How To Prevent Your Dog Digging Holes – 8 Effective Ways

Now that you know why dogs dig holes, you’re probably wondering how you can stop them.

Here are 8 effective ways (that work!) to prevent your dog from digging holes:

#1 – Put Obstacles

If your dog is digging holes in a particular area, try putting obstacles in his way. This could be anything from rocks to logs to plants.

The obstacle will block your dog’s path and make it difficult for him to dig.

#2 -Walk Your Dog Often

A tired dog is a good dog. If your dog is getting enough exercise, he’ll be less likely to have the energy to dig holes.

Be sure to walk your dog at least once a day. And, if possible, get him some extra exercise by taking him for a run or playing fetch with him in the yard.

#3 – Provide More Physical/Mental Stimulation

If your dog is bored, he may start digging holes as a way to relieve that boredom. To prevent this, be sure to provide your dog with plenty of physical and mental stimulation.

This could include things like playing fetch, going for walks, and providing him with interactive toys. Pet calming treats are also a good option.

#4 – Play With Them Using Interesting Active Toys (Balls, Frisbees)

An active dog is a happy dog. If your dog is getting enough exercise, he’ll be less likely to have the energy to dig holes.

dog playing with the ball

Be sure to play with your dog using active toys like balls and frisbees. This will help to tire him out and prevent him from digging holes.

#5 – Designate a Digging Area Where It’s Okay To Dig

If your dog loves to dig, you can designate a digging area where it’s okay for him to do so. This could be a spot in the yard that’s covered with sand or dirt.

By giving your dog a designated digging area, you’ll help to satisfy his natural urge to dig. And, it will also prevent him from digging holes in other areas of your yard.

#6 – Don’t Leave Your Dog Alone in the Yard

If you leave your dog alone in the yard for too long, he may start digging holes out of boredom or anxiety.

To prevent this, be sure to only leave your dog alone in the yard for short periods. And, if possible, provide him with an anti anxiety dog bed, some toys or other forms of stimulation while he’s in the yard. 

#7 – Put Calming Dog Bed Under a Shade To Cool Them Off

If it’s hot outside, your dog may start digging holes as a way to cool down. To prevent this, be sure to put a calming dog bed under a shady spot in your yard.

This will provide your dog with a cool place to lie down and will help to prevent him from digging holes.

#8 – Get Rid of the Rodent Population in Your Yard

If there are rodents in your yard, your dog may start digging holes as a way to catch them. To prevent this, be sure to get rid of the rodent population in your yard.

You can do this by using traps or by hiring a professional pest control company.

What Not To Use To Stop Your Dog Digging Holes

While there are many effective ways to stop your dog from digging holes, there are also some methods that you should avoid.

Here are some of the things that you should NOT use to stop your dog from digging holes:

dogs playing in the yard

Don’t Use Toxic Products (Especially for Eliminating the Rodents)

You should never use toxic products in your yard, especially if you have pets or children. These products can be harmful to your dog and may even make him sick. Furthermore, they can also contaminate the soil and make it unsafe for your family.

If you’re looking for a way to get rid of rodents, be sure to use traps instead of toxic products.

Anything Sharp or Dangerous

You should never use anything sharp or dangerous to stop your dog from digging holes. This includes things like nails, shards of glass, or barbed wire.

Not only can these things injure your dog, but they can also make the problem worse by causing your dog to associate digging with pain.

Negative Reinforcement and Punishment

You should also avoid using negative reinforcement or punishment to stop your dog from digging holes. This includes things like scolding, hitting, or shouting at your dog.

Not only is this ineffective, but it can also make the problem worse by causing your dog to be afraid of you.

Dogs react negatively to punishment and it will only make them more likely to dig holes as a way to escape your wrath.

Filling the Hole With Water

You may have seen people filling their dog’s holes with water as a way to stop them from digging. However, this is not an effective method and can actually make the problem worse.

wearing yellow rain coat to pour water on the yard

For one, your dog will simply dig another hole to get away from the water. Furthermore, he may start to associate you with the negative experience of being in the water and could become afraid of you.

Additionally, filling the hole with water can damage the roots of your plants and make the soil wet, which will potentially attract more rodents.

Should You Be Worried if Your Dog Digs Holes and Lays in Them?

Some people worry that their dog is digging holes because he’s trying to bury something. However, this is usually not the case.

Dogs typically dig holes because they’re looking for a cool place to lay down or because they’re trying to escape the heat.

If your dog is digging holes and then laying in them, there’s no need to worry. He’s simply trying to stay cool and comfortable.

Of course, if you’re ever concerned about your dog’s behavior, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist.

People Also Ask

How Do I Stop My Dogs From Digging Holes?

There are several effective ways to stop your dog from digging holes, including:
1. Put a calming dog bed under a shady spot in your yard. 
2. Get rid of the rodent population in your yard. 
3. Use positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to dig in designated areas.

Should I Let My Dog Dig Holes?

It’s generally fine to let your dog dig holes, as long as he’s not doing it in an area where you don’t want him to. If you’re concerned about your dog damaging your landscaping, you can create a designated digging area for him.

What Is the Meaning of Dog Digging?

There are several possible explanations for why dogs dig, including:
1. They’re looking for a cool place to lay down. 
2. They’re trying to escape the heat. 
3. They’re looking for rodents or other small animals. 
4. They’re bored and need something to do.

What Breed of Dog Likes To Dig Holes?

There are several breeds of dogs that are known for their digging, including terriers, dachshunds, and basset hounds. However, any breed of dog can dig holes if they’re bored or have a strong prey drive.

Conclusion

Dogs dig holes for many reasons, including boredom, anxiety, and the desire to catch prey. If your dog is digging holes, there are several things you can do to stop him, including providing a designated digging area and getting rid of the rodents in your yard.

If you’re concerned about your dog’s behavior, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian or animal behaviorist.

However, in most cases, there’s no need to worry if your dog is digging holes. It’s instinct and normal behavior that can be easily managed.

Have you ever caught your dog digging a hole in your yard? How did you stop it?

Photo of author

Lovelia Horn

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