Why do dogs dig? There are many reasons

Big dog digging in the yardIt’s frustrating when your beautifully manicured yard becomes a landscape of potholes due to your digging dog. Or, when she digs a hole in your new couch. Digging is a normal dog trait. As a matter of fact, a national survey found that 83% of American dog owners have dogs who dig holes. So, why do dogs dig? There are more reasons than you might have thought.

Which breeds are more prone to dig?

Here are some of the breeds that seem to be most prone to digging:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Beagles
  • Bloodhounds
  • Cairn Terriers
  • Chow Chows
  • Jack Russell Terriers
  • Malamutes
  • Siberian Huskies
  • Westies


A bored dog can be a destructive dog. If your pooch isn’t getting a lot of stimulation, she may dig just to pass the time. Further, it can relieve stress. If you’re spending a large stretch of time away from home regularly and you find holes in your yard or furniture, don’t blame your dog. Just like you, she needs things to keep herself occupied.

You may be able to nip the boredom problem in the bud by giving her a different bone or toy every day. Also, if you exercise her regularly, that can help alleviate some of that excess energy. You might even consider getting her a canine playmate.

Also realize that your dog’s digging could indicate a greater problem like separation anxiety. You can read more on this subject here.

She wants to get cool and comfortable

She may dig to create a cool and comfortable spot to lay, especially in warm weather. This is because the ground is cooler a few inches below the surface. It’s not unusual for a dog to dig several pits around the yard as the sun continues to move across the sky. Also, she may dig to mold the ground to fit her body in order to be comfortable.

If this is the situation with your best friend, make sure she always has soft, cool bedding. If it’s outside, make sure it’s always in the shade

She wants a safe shelter – Denning

Dogs naturally seek the shelter of a den. As a matter of fact, wild canids still dig dens. They want a shelter they can feel secure in. If you see your dog digging on her bed or in her crate, this is likely an instinctual behavior related to digging outdoor dens in the wild. Thus, denning is a natural behavior for dogs and it would be unfair to force her to stop it.

There are creatures down there!Naked mole rat

Your dog might hear an animal or insect moving around below the ground surface. Her keen sense of smell might also be at play. In any case, she’s curious and wants to find out what it is and the result is holes in the yard.


There’s a good chance your pooch really loves you but that doesn’t mean she won’t seek out new adventures! Thus, she may dig a hole right under your fence to escape and go have fun. She also may be in heat and is looking to mate. Many fences don’t extend under ground and so they present an opportunity for your dog to dig a tunnel to the other side.

Stashing food

Of course, you take wonderful care of your dog and she obviously doesn’t need to hide her food. But, it’s a natural instinct. Consider that in the world of early canines, long before humans stepped into the picture, food was hard to come by. If a wild dog was lucky enough to find something to eat, she would bury it near her den and thus hide it from competing canines. She would then have a meal she could later enjoy.

It’s fun!

Book cover of Diggin' DogI’ve never asked a dog if it’s fun to dig but I bet it can be at times. After all, humans aren’t the only animals who like to do things just for the pure joy of it!

How to keep your dog from destructive digging

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Provide her with more playtime and exercise to help alleviate pent-up energy.
  • Give her an area that is designated for digging.
  • Discourage her from digging by burying rocks and creating smells she doesn’t like in the areas she digs.
  • Offer more and different toys and rotate them to keep things interesting.
  • Give her a shady and cool spot in the yard to rest.
  • Don’t scold her as it will make her more anxious and confused.


Why do dogs dig? You probably didn’t know there were so many possible reasons! Remember that digging is a natural behavior for dogs so don’t scold her if she does. If she’s destructive with her digging, try to understand the reasons for her behavior and then follow the tips above.

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