Most behaviors of dogs are either the product of instinct, or a learned behavior. Digging behavior is no exception; it is an instinct. In addition, there are certain breeds, Terriers and Dachshunds, for instance, which were bred specifically for their ability to dig out game, such as badgers, foxes, and otters. They have an even greater digging instinct.

Dogs dig for a variety of reasons:

  • Dogs will often dig out of boredom. If you leave your dog out alone in the yard for any length of time, he may dig just for something to do. Play with him out there, or provide him with chew toys or interactive toys like a Kong or Pet Planet rubber toy with treats stuffed inside.
  • Digging is often used as a means of escape. Your dog may want to leave a fenced yard because there are so many more interesting things to do elsewhere.
  • If you have an intact (unspayed, or unneutered) dog, he or she may be digging to escape in order to mate with another dog. If you do not plan to breed your dog, a good way to prevent digging for this reason is to neuter him or spay her.
  • Since deeper layers of soil tend to be cooler, your dog may be digging to find relief from the heat. Always provide a cool, shady place for your dog to rest when he is outside.
  • Dogs are great savers. They will bury bones or other treats ‘for a rainy day’ when they may need them.
  • If you use bone or blood meal to fertilize your garden, the scent may be irresistible. A dog may dig and dig trying to find that nonexistent bone.
  • Any dog may dig to excavate a den. A female dog may dig in order to provide a nest for babies, whether she is pregnant or not.

The trick to stopping any pet’s unwanted behavior is understanding it and then manipulating it into a behavior of which we approve.

Posted in: Dog FAQs