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why do dogs dig
Posted — July 10

Why Do Dogs Dig?

If your dog loves to dig, you’ll know how frustrating it can be. Manicured lawns and well-kept flowerbeds don’t last long when your dog gets his paws into them!

If you’ve ever wondered why your dog digs then you’re in the right place. In today’s post, we’ll look at some of the most common reasons for digging, and explore ways you can manage and reduce the habit.

So, let’s get started …

To Hunt

Some dogs are hardwired to dig – it’s in their genetics. Hunting breeds such as terriers have been selectively bred to dig out ground-dwelling animals like moles and rabbits. They have an acute sense of smell, and will often dig for small animals if they sniff them out in your garden.

If your dog digs to hunt, set live traps and humanely remove small animals from your home and garden.

To Bury Food for Later

Burying food is an instinctive behavior. It’s inherited from the wild ancestors of domesticated dogs that would hide food to eat in times of scarcity. Modern dogs will bury bones, treats, and other food items to eat later. They may even hide food under furniture and other household items.

If your dog digs to bury food, avoid giving him food items that he won’t finish immediately.

To Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Dogs are sensitive creatures and can react negatively to changes in their routine or environment. When dogs experience stress and anxiety, they may use digging as a way to relieve these negative feelings.

Common causes of stress and anxiety include a new person or pet around the house or changes in the daily routine of the household. If you suspect that your dog’s digging is caused by stress and anxiety, reassure them and give them extra attention as they adapt to the changes around them.

To Escape

If your dog is outside in a confined area, he may have escape on his mind. Dogs that spend a lot of time in an enclosed space are prone to boredom. They may well figure out that there’s a world of adventure waiting for them beyond the fence!

If your dog is digging to escape the yard, pay attention to possible reasons why. Separation anxiety is a common cause of digging to escape. A veterinarian or a dog behaviourist can advise you on ways to tackle this behavior.

To Keep Cool

Digging can be a way for your dog to keep cool in the warm summer months. The surface of the ground can be hot and uncomfortable to lie on in hot weather, so dogs will dig down to cooler layers of earth to make a comfortable bed.

If your dog digs to try and keep cool, provide a shaded area away from direct sunlight. Keep your dog inside during the hottest part of the day, or on days when it’s especially hot and sunny.