This guide by our team at We Love Doodles will teach you how to stop your dog from digging. Has your dog filled your backyard with giant holes leaving your yard looking like a meteor shower just occurred?
Maybe they’ve even dug themselves a hole under your fence and escaped a time or two, leaving you stressed and worried about them getting hurt or even lost?
Either way, we understand that your dog digging holes can be frustrating and possibly dangerous if they are getting out and running a muck around the neighborhood.
If your dog is leaving these craters all over your yard, it’s important to know your dog isn’t doing it out of spite or a desire to destroy your landscaping.
In many cases, they are seeking something which could be entertainment, attention, comfort, escape, prey or protection. Today we’re going to be diving deeper into why our dogs dig and the ways we can prevent this behavior as dog owners.
Why Do Dogs Dig?
Dogs dig for many reasons, but the main reasons for the behavior go back long before dogs were even dogs, to their wolf ancestors. With this in mind, one can argue that digging is as much a part of being a dog as barking or sniffing.
That instinctive tendency came in handy when some breeds were used for hunting animals. Certain breeds were bred and used to hunt and dig, their digging behaviors and instincts became even stronger.
For example, think about terriers – whether it’s a Jack Russell, Smooth Fox, or Airedale Terriers – these dogs love to dig. They are known as “earth dogs” because of their incredible commitment to the following prey into tunnels in the earth, even if that means digging their way in.
Humans purposefully developed these breeds to exhibit this behavior. Even though we may not use our dogs for those purposes anymore, their instincts still linger. With this in mind, it’s slightly difficult to expect our puppies to drop this habit on command.
So what are the specific reasons that dogs dig? We covered that this is an instinctual behavior that dates back far into history, but what exactly are our puppies trying to accomplish? There are quite a few reasons.
- Seeking Prey: The number one reason your dog is digging is to catch prey. This is most common among many breeds, as this is one of the ways dogs used to find their food. If your yard is infested with moles or similar vermin will have your dog going crazy trying to catch them. And can you blame them? It’s in their genetics.
- Beat the Heat: We know from science class that heat rises, right? So, it could be that perhaps your puppy is trying to create a cool spot for them to take a nap by digging a hole beneath the ground, in the cold and comfy dirt. If you notice them cuddle up proudly in the hole they have just dug, this is most definitely what’s going through their head. You might notice that your dog is digging on your rugs, couches, etc – this mentality covers that behavior as well. (Although, clearly they do not understand that there is no cold and comfy dirt under your couch).
- Hiding the Good Stuff: This reason dates back to pack mentality, back in a dog’s pack days, they would hide their food, bones, etc. so that the other dogs in the group wouldn’t find it and “steal” their new prize. They chose to keep it safe by placing it underground, and this mentality still sticks around for some breeds. Sometimes, just like a human putting an item in a safe place, they might forget where that special place was. How silly.
- The Great Escape: As we touched on earlier, dogs sometimes will dig and get under barriers, like fences. The reason behind this is that they might be trying to find more exciting locations, look for food, or even a mate that they think exists outside of your yard. But, not all master escapees are looking for a good time, so punishing them may not be the best route. In some cases, your puppy is trying to escape to find you, as they are anxious and feel alone in the yard.
- Having a Grand Ol’ Time: You remember the days when you were a kid having fun in the backyard? This might have consisted of running around, making mud pies, playing tag with friends, etc. Those were all things that kids love to do to keep themselves from being bored. You can think of your dog sort of like a kid, they need to be entertained. So, this same principle can be applied to puppies and digging. In some cases, digging is a fun activity that relieves stress and keeps them from boredom. If you have figured out that this is the reason your puppy is digging, you’re in luck – because this is the most easily curable reason dogs dig, as we can easily distract them with other toys and activities.
Ways to Stop the Digging
So, we have just covered all of the possible reasons your dog is digging. As we mentioned, this behavior is highly instinctual, just as barking and sniffing are for dogs. This means it is going to be just as challenging to train this behavior out of your dog as it would be to train them to stop barking – extremely difficult, but not impossible.
There are many reasons why your dog is digging, and each reason will present a different level of difficulty to train out. By identifying the cause, you will be more effective at curtailing the behavior.
For example, if your dog is digging to prevent boredom, this might be easily cured by simply keeping them stimulated with other activities. Perhaps you could try enrichment toys, which aim to wear your dog out by using their brainpower to figure out problems – leaving them too tired to dig.
Training sessions in the backyard are another way to occupy and exercise your dog. Killing two birds with one stone – training your dog to be a more polite puppy and wearing them out.
Plus, they have the added benefit of creating a safe space in the backyard, because you are their favorite person in the world, and spending time with you in an environment gives that place a “safe” feeling for your dog.
Alternatively, if your dog is digging due to anxious tendencies, calming those feelings that they have is going to be the solution to curb your puppy’s digging.
Try not to use the backyard as a punishment or “time out” space, this will create feelings of hostility and being alone each time your dog goes out there, heightening those anxious feelings, thus leading to digging.
Instead, try to spend time with your dog in the yard. Playing, training, and just being within their sight will help in some cases. So let’s say you’ve tried everything you can to stop your dogs digging behaviors with no success.
We’ve been there, and we understand how frustrating it can be to not have those things go your way. With some dogs, if you can’t get them to stop digging, you can at least embrace the digging more appropriately.
For example, try getting a sandbox and hiding toys, bones, etc. to keep your dog interested. Any time your dog starts to dig somewhere other than the digging spot, gently redirect them and reward any digging in that preferred place.
After some time, they’ll learn to love their little digging box and your yard won’t look like a slice of Swiss cheese. It’s a win for you and a win for your furry companion.
Conclusion For “How to Stop Your Dog From Digging”
You’ve noticed that your dog is quickly filling your backyard with holes, this issue can be frustrating, unsightly, and possibly dangerous. In this article, we learned that dogs dig for many reasons, most of which date back through history to our puppy’s wolf ancestry.
These reasons can range from anxiety, hunting prey, hiding treasures, or boredom. To cure this behavior in your dog, it is important to first address the reason for the behavior, the best way to do this is to observe what your dog is doing when they dig the hole.
Perhaps they find a mole, cuddle up in the hole or bury one of their toys. These indications will help you determine the mentality behind the digging and lead to the best solution to prevent the digging.
Additionally, we mentioned that preventing the digging may not work for your dog, and in this case, it’s a great idea to redirect that into something positive.
Whatever the reason or solution that works for you and your dog, we hope this article helped you in some way. Thanks for reading “How to Stop Your Dog From Digging.”
If you find this guide, “How to Stop Your Dog From Digging,” helpful, check out these other dog guides:
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- How to Stop Your Dog from Slipping on Hardwood Floors
- How To Get Your Uncooperative Dog To Take a Pill
You can learn more about this topic by watching “Stop Your Dog Digging in the Yard” down below: