Have you ever asked the question why do dogs dig holes? It's a little more complicated than it may seem at first, but it doesn't have to be. This is how to prevent this behavior

Why Do Dogs Dig Holes? Here Are The Top 5 Reasons

One of the most frustrating things about being a dog owner is when your dog starts to dig holes in the yard. It’s especially frustrating when they get into the garden you put so much time and effort into! Your first instinct may be to figure out how to stop your dog from digging, but before you go down that route, you need to learn the answer to the question “Why do dogs dig holes in the first place?!”

However, regardless of why your dog is showing this behavior, you need to observe WHERE they are digging. If you notice they are digging near the fence, you need to stop this behavior as soon as you can. Digging near the fence puts your dog at risk of ‘digging out.’ If you’re not sure how to get your dog to stop, here’s a great resource we put together on how to stop your dog from digging.

Here Are The Top 5 Reasons Dogs Dig Holes

1: Digging Holes is a Survival Instinct

Even though our adorable pups may look very different from those in the wild, the truth is, their origin means that they have similar genetic and instincts. One of the reasons dogs out in the wild dig is to hide food they can’t eat right away – thereby keeping it safe and protected from other dogs. Once they are ready to eat again, they will return to the spot they buried their food and finish eating.

Apart from hiding food, wild dogs also dig burrows to sleep in and protect their young from other predators. If your dog is digging holes in your yard, you’ll want to check if they are burying their food.

2: Anxiety and Stress

Dogs get anxious a lot more than we think. Anxiety in dogs leads to a variety of behavioral issues and digging is one of the most common behaviors. Changes in their routine or even changes at home might have them feeling anxious and stressed. To get rid of that stress they end up digging.

If you suspect your dog might be anxious or stressed, consider the following.

  • Has there been a change in your work hours? Maybe you aren’t home at your usual time
  • Is there someone new in the house?
  • Did you get a new pet?
  • Did a family member move out?
  • Was there a big fight between you and your spouse?

The list could go on and on, but those are some of the most common reasons dogs get anxiety and stress. If you suspect your dog might be anxious, be sure to give them lots of comforting attention as they become accustomed to these changes.

3: Your Dog is Bored and Has Lots of Energy

Let’s be honest…most dog owners don’t provide their dogs with as much exercise as they should. Long walks and regular play sessions prevent your dog from getting bored which will then ensure that they don’t dig to get rid of all that built up energy.

If you believe your dog is bored, there are many ways you can engage and challenge them throughout the day. One of the best options is to get them interactive toys – an example of this would be an automatic rolling ball. If you don’t have time to play fetch with your pup, this ball will roll around and try to run away from your dog.

4: Temperature Changes

For dogs that have thick coats, it can be difficult to deal with temperature changes going into summer. Since dogs don’t have sweat glands, on the extra hot days they look for other ways to cool down…digging is one of those ways.

How exactly does this help your dog cool down? Because the further down they dig, the colder it gets. If your dog digs a hole and then lays down in that hole, you know it’s because they are trying to cool down.

5: Too Many Snacks

We briefly talked about this in the first point, but dogs hide food when they are full. If you feed them their regular meals and then continue to give them snacks throughout the day, there’s a good chance they are going to bury the snack in the backyard and save it for later. The good news is this is easily fixable…don’t overfeed your dog!

The Fine Line

Being a dog owner isn’t always easy, and you’ll need to make tough decisions. If you have a dog that loves digging, you’ll need to decide if you should put an end to this behavior or just let your dog be a dog. If this doesn’t happen often, it might be worth just fixing a hole that your dog digs up every once in a while. However, if it’s becoming a daily or weekly issue, you’ll probably want to put an end to it. You’ll also want to put an end to it if they are digging close to your fence.


4 thoughts on “Why Do Dogs Dig Holes? Here Are The Top 5 Reasons

  1. Alayna Hart says:

    Laughed out loud when I read about dogs burying their snacks in the backyard. My dog loves to do this between my couch cushions!

    • K9Nerds says:

      That’s definitely a possibility if it’s just a one time thing. I just wrote about how dogs trim their nails by digging. But if it’s an ongoing behavior, probably not the case.

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