Why do dogs dig?
There are many reasons why dogs dig, here are just a few of the more common reasons:
Temperature – if it is hot or cold outside and a dog does not have access to comfortable, appropriate shelter then they may dig a hole in the soil to help regulate their body temperature in the extreme weather.
Breed – some dogs (i.e. Dachshunds) are bred to dig or ‘go to ground’ for hunting and thus digging fulfils an innate behavioural need.
Hide treasure – again often an innate behaviour, some dogs may choose to bury items of value such as toys and chews to prevent other accessing them
Escape – some dogs feel the need to escape their yard and will dig under boundary fences (these dogs often have an underlying mental health issue that needs to be addressed by a behavioural vet)
To gain access – to a breeding mate (if entire), to a K9 friend, to get to a person in the neighbourhood who may be feeding them, to get to a ‘prey’ item (i.e. into a chook pen or bugs in the dirt), or to get to a previously buried treasure item.
To improve comfort – some dogs can be observed ‘nesting’ by digging and circling in their beds, on the couch or even on the ground
Underlying mental health issue – some dogs may suffer from issues such as anxiety, OCD, or phobias which can lead to digging as a coping strategy or means of escape in times of heightened fear such as separation or during fireworks.
What can I do about my dog digging inappropriately?
NEVER punish a dog for digging – instead
Try to redirect your dog’s attention – remove the dog from the environment if necessary
Follow through with distracting your dog by providing them with something else to do – long lasting tasty chews work well.
Ensure you have provided your dog with a variety of options for shelter and bedding, and ensure the bedding is positioned in a place that your dog likes to be.
If you have more than one dog ensure you have multiples of the variety of shelters available, sharing isn’t always an option!
Restrict your dog’s access to areas where digging is inappropriate use fencing and other physical barriers (unless supervised so you can teach them a more appropriate location or behaviour)
Provide more of a variety of enrichment – fun things for the dog to do other than digging see our resource under Free Useful Info on Enrichment
Provide a substitute for the behaviour to be carried out in a more acceptable manner. Children’s sand pits, ball pits and wadding pools make fantastic substitutes – add treats to these to encourage your dog to scavenge and engage
Provide chews in crates to prevent the need and ability to bury them and pack toys away after use.
If your dog is digging to escape or you suspect may have a mental health issue or fear or the above does not work, contact us via phone 1800376352 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.