Yards and gardens have been sacrificed when your pet dog decides that he’s done with everything else and that digging is the next best thing to do. And this drives dog owners crazy. 

But, it’s important to know that your dog is not doing this to annoy you or just unleashing its need to destroy your yard. They have their reasons, and once you’ve understood that, digging can be controlled. 

Here are several reasons why dogs dig. 

Genetics

Genetics plays a big role in a dog’s behavior. If your dog descends from a line of hunting breeds, such as terriers and small hounds, be prepared for insistent digging. Because of their hunting genes, small animals and critters attract them and there’s a good chance that they will dig around the yard to catch them. 

What to do?

If your dog is a natural digger, you can dedicate a “digging zone” and teach them that this is the only acceptable place where they can dig. 

You can use a child-sized sandbox and fill it with loose soil or sand. You can attract your dog to this area by burying their favorite treats or toys. When they dig in this area, reward them with praise or treats. This will teach them that you are fine with them digging in this area (plus it’ll get them treats!). 

If you see your dog digging in an unacceptable area, interrupt them with a firm voice and guide them back to their digging zone. 

If you notice your dog’s digging is connected to its high-prey drive, then you can control your dog’s digging behavior by controlling the population of small animals in your garden or yard. Don’t use poison though, as it is dangerous for your dog, as well. 

Boredom and Stress reliever

Like humans, dogs can also feel stress and they have different ways of coping up with it. For some active dogs, digging is a great channel for them to release their pent-up stress. 

Boredom or separation anxiety can result in active diggers. When you leave a dog on its own for too long, without anything to do, it’ll resort to digging. If your pet is experiencing separation anxiety, one way to discharge their negative emotions is through something productive, like digging. 

What to do?

Show your dog that there are more fun things to do than just digging. 

  • Walk them at least twice daily
  • Introduce and play with them using active toys (balls, fetch)
  • Teach your dog some tricks and practice it with them daily
  • Take training classes 
  • Put attractive and interesting toys around your garden and yard

Security and Comfort

When dogs dig, they are possibly looking for a shelter of dens. It’s not noticeable with domesticated dogs but wild canids seek the comfort and protection that dens offer. 

During the hot seasons, dens are cooler, while it’s warmer during the colder seasons. They consider this a place where they feel secure. If notice your dog digging into its bed or crate, this is their instinct kicking in. This is natural for canines and quite a difficult behavior to control, especially if your dogs like denning. 

What to do?

As mentioned, dogs dig to seek dens or a shelter where they feel safe. The most you can do for dogs who digs with this purpose is to provide the comfort and security they need. 

Bring them inside more often or make their outdoor shelter comfortable enough. 

Escape

Some dogs are made to be great escape artists. If they have figured out that they can’t go over, they are most likely to try from underneath. For some dogs, this is a good escape tactic. 

Some dog owners don’t have fences that are embedded from under the ground, making it very easy for dogs to dig a tunnel and crawl right through it. If you notice your dog has a penchant for escaping, their digging might result in them going off their merry way outside. 

What to do?

There must be a reason why your dog is trying to escape. They could be bored or something has caught their attention outside. There are a few ways to keep them inside: 

  • If your fence doesn’t go through under the ground, you can bury chicken wire instead. Make sure to keep the sharp edges away.
  • Place large and heavy rocks along the bottom of the fence

Burying treasures

Some dogs like to keep their treasures, such as their favorite treats or toy. One way of safekeeping these high-valued items is by burying them. However, dogs don’t remember the exact spot where they buried these things, resulting in them digging more to different areas, trying to look for it. 

What to do?

If your dog likes doing this, don’t allow them to bring their toys and treats outside. 

Most of the time, it is very difficult to stop your dog’s digging behavior. It is natural for them, embedded in their genes, especially for dogs who were bred for hunting or denning dogs. 

If you find it hard to control your dog’s digging behavior and the tips above don’t seem to work, what you can do is never leave them unsupervised when they are outside and give them alternative and fun activities. You can even provide a digging area just for them.