Dog Behaviors

Why Do Dogs Dig?

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by Charlie Broyd

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There is no question that dogs dig. What may be less obvious is why they dig. It may seem like a simple question, but in truth, there are many different theories about the practice.

Some believe dogs dig to get at the buried treasure; others think they dig for earthworms, and still, others assume it is because of the fun they have. Some dig for fun, some dig for food, and some dig for no reason at all. Why do dogs dig? Let’s read further below to know more.

Digging: Why Do Our Dogs Love to Dig?

Digging is a behavior that is not only common in dogs, but their puppies can begin to dig at a young age. Many dog owners swear by the benefits of playing fetch, which many dogs enjoy.

However, it is not uncommon for dogs to repeatedly dig up objects such as blankets and pillows, and they can dig out of their own accord during play. While this behavior is often seen as cute in dogs, some aspects may be surprising. 

Digging is a common behavior not just in dogs but also in cats. However, it is not always a bad thing. Well, dogs dig for a variety of reasons, including the following:

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1. Digging is a great way for dogs to relieve stress.

Dogs dig for all sorts of reasons, but the most common reason is simply that they dig to relieve themselves of stress. Dogs will dig when they’re stressed out and anxious.

So, if you want your dogs to do other things than dig (like play, for example), then you want to keep them happy and comfortable.

2. They are practicing their predatory instincts.

Dogs have always been denizens of the wild, and in that way, they have much in common with other animals – their prey. They can get so absorbed in their hunt that they lose track of time.

They are also very territorial and protective, which puts them at odds with other animals. In the wild, they can also accurately gauge when a potential meal is ready to be eaten.

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Their senses work in tandem with their behaviors to help them find food. Digging is not just a wolf-like behavior—dogs dig for all sorts of reasons, including finding food and protecting themselves. That said, digging is often a sign that your dog, like all animals, is just trying to do what he knows how to do.

3. It’s in their genes.

There are many reasons dogs dig. Veterinary professionals and dog breeders have long believed that dog digging is an innate behavior, not a response to frustration.

However, new research shows that digging is an inherited behavior because we share more genetic similarities with dogs than with other animals. Genetics plays a major part in why dogs dig. People who own dogs know all about their digging behavior—the sounds, smells, and textures that make them excited. 

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4. It is denning, or this is the dog’s natural way of seeking the shelter of the den.

Perhaps the most common negative reason dogs dig is a fear that their pets are causing damage. That may be true, but the other reason is that they are denning. Dogs are not alone in this behavior.

Many animals in the animal kingdom dig holes, including other canines. Denning out is a common practice of many owners of German shepherd puppies.

It’s the instinct of a puppy to dig, so when the time comes for them to go to bed at night, they dig in their current living place until the soil is the dugout.

5. They just wanted to bury and store food and objects.

It’s a common misconception that dogs dig holes to protect their territory. The primary reason dogs dig is to bury their food or toys. A dog’s brain is very complex, so it can understand many different things.

For example, dogs can understand that a hole dug by a dog is a good place to hide a bone or a toy. Dogs will also dig holes into practicing their digging skills and making a home for themselves.

6. As dedicated escape artists, dogs dig to create a tunnel that they crawl through for freedom.

There are many reasons why dogs dig, yet one of the most obvious is their desire to escape. They dig to escape because they are naturally curious, interested, and adventurous creatures. They like to explore and desire to escape the bounds of their natural world.

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7. It’s their way of escaping the heat; thus, regulating their temperature.

One of the fascinating things about dogs is how they can sense, interpret, and react to their surroundings. One example that illustrates this is their ability to determine the temperature of the ground and their surroundings simply by looking at it.

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As you can imagine, this can be a very useful tool for them, not only because of this nature but also because of their diet. Why do dogs dig during summer? They do this to cool off in the summer in the heat.

With the summer’s hot weather, many dogs will dig and find cool places to get away from the heat. But why do dogs dig? As you know, dogs dig for various reasons, such as searching for toys, burrowing for safety, finding a cool place to sleep, or even marking their territory.

8. Temperature regulation is something that all living creatures must do to maintain their internal temperature.

This is especially true for dogs that enjoy basking in the sun and snow. However, dogs also tend to like digging in the dirt.

9. Your dog is anxious or is struck by boredom.

It’s not uncommon for dogs to dig holes, create tunnels, and burrow for no good reason at all. It’s also not uncommon for dogs to do all this in an anxious or bored state.

In fact, according to a new study, more than half of a dog’s behavior is driven by anxiety and boredom. If your dog digs because it’s feeling anxious, you’re likely to see him or her digging when the situation is stressful, such as when you’re playing with them or when they’re alone.

If your dog digs because it’s feeling bored, they are likely bored at home, and they may be seeking out new and interesting things to do.

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Due to the prevalence of digging, it’s nearly impossible to immediately stop your pup in the habit of purposely digging holes.

Unfortunately, this digging quickly turns into more than just a habit; it turns into a problem that can have serious consequences. These consequences include a damaged yard, expensive landscaping, and repairing the damage (or even replacing the entire yard) after many unfortunate events.

How Do You Stop Your Dog from Digging?

As much as your dog loves digging, they can get in a lot of trouble if they do so too often. Since dogs do it so often, they are often able to dig up your backyard, lawn, and even your car. Therefore, if you want to discourage your dog from digging, you need to teach him to stop.

Here are the following ways that will stop your dog from digging:

  • Implement an effective rodent control to discourage your dog from digging. Dogs often dig up our yards in pursuit of new places to play. Digging up the yard isn’t their favorite pastime, and often the results of such digging are very difficult to repair, so some dog owners have turned to rodent control to stop their dogs from digging up their yard. Choosing to implement rodent control is another option, though the method you choose will depend on the specific situation. If your dog digs in your yard, implement rodent control if you want to stop him.
  • Provide a shady and cool place, just the perfect place for your dog to cool off. Dogs have the innate ability to dig, but the reason they do isn’t always because they want to. Digging is a way for dogs to cool off in the summer and is instinctive. Digging is a behavior that can be prevented if you provide them with a shady spot to rest in the sun.
  • If it is because of stress, address the root cause to help stop your dog from digging excessively. Dogs dig for several reasons. They dig for food, for play, and cover, and sometimes a dog will dig for no apparent reason. Why do dogs dig? This question gets asked a lot, but there is no single answer. The best way to explain it is to look at the person behind the dog: the dog might be digging because of an owner who fails to exercise their dog or a past dog who would dig when stressed. While it’s impossible to know if a digging dog is stressed, it’s a good idea to help a dog reeling from a big change cope with stress if that’s what’s causing the digging.
  • Provide a designated area where your dog is allowed to dig. When we think of a dog, we don’t think about its paws’ dirty and dangerous. Digging can be a dangerous habit for dogs, and it can also be highly destructive, especially when the dog is digging up your yard. If you want to stop your dog from digging, you can provide them with a sandbox (an area in your yard where they are allowed to dig) as one of the ways to do it.
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One common ground among people who have a dog is that they all love their dogs and want them to be well taken care of since they are part of the family and part of the community.

The same is true of our pets, and one of the ways we can ensure that is to ensure that our dogs are safe in their yards. Digging is one of the dogs’ favorite pastimes, and it is not easy to stop it.

Some people insist that all you have to do to get your dog to stop digging is to say “No!” That’s not going to work for most, especially if your dog likes to dig. Digging is normal for dogs, but it can become destructive if you let it go on for too long.

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