10 Reasons Why Your Dog is Digging Holes In The Yard

Is your dog digging holes all over your yard? Does your garden look like somebody just finished trenching it? Are you tired of stepping in holes, and turning your ankle? Have you ever come home to find your garden full of holes that weren’t there when you left for work?

If you a garden-proud dog owner you may get annoyed with your dog but if you take the time to look more closely you will find good reasons for this behavior and you can even get a closer insight into what is going on in the mind of your dog. The following are some of the reasons why your dog is digging in the garden.

Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?

Dogs come by their love of digging holes naturally.  Wild dogs store food by digging a hole and burying it.  They also dig out big holes (or dens) for their puppies.  Dens are also a good place to hole up in (sorry, couldn’t resist) when the weather is bad.

Some dogs really get into digging holes.  Terriers, hounds, and retrievers, in particular, are known for their digging abilities.  In fact, terriers were bred to dig animals out of holes.  All dogs have an inbred instinct to dig, but some do seem to take it to an extreme. 10 reasons why your dog may be digging holes in the yard listed below.

1. They are bored

The root of most dog behavior problems is boredom. Dogs are meant to be outside, running in the woods and fields. Instead, we keep them in the house, or out in the yard for hours on end, without much to do.

Does your dog spend most of his time by himself? In the wild, canines are social animals who live in packs. A lot of dog behavior problems are caused by putting our pets in an unnatural situation and expecting them to be happy. A dog with nothing to do will find a way to occupy himself. Digging holes in your yard is one way he keeps himself busy.

If your dog is currently digging up the garden it’s possible that he/she is just bored and frustrated and this is just something that they are doing to relieve the boredom and tension they are feeling. Dogs love stimulation and they do get frustrated when on their own for long periods.

2. Instincts

If you look at dog’s natural instincts you can find an answer as to why dogs dig holes. Dogs have an instinctual need for shelter and will dig to find it if it’s not provided for them in their environment. If you have a terrier breed it’s highly likely that your dog is digging as part of its predatory nature to look for prey.

3. Sence of a female dog

Part of the answer, as to why a dog will dig, lies in their sexuality. Female dogs have a natural tendency to dig a shelter for their young. If you have a female dog this might explain the digging that’s going on.

4. Being smart

The other day I arrived home with a bone for my dog and she buried it immediately. I thought it was strange at first but then I discovered that dogs do this with surplus food to keep their living area clean and to keep scavengers from coming around.

5. A way to cool off

You may find your dog digging when the weather gets hot outside. Digging a hole can help reduce the dog’s body temperature. Remember that they will feel a lot hotter than us as their whole body is covered with fur.

6. Sociable dogs

If you find the holes that your dog digs are close the fences or walled areas it’s probably because your dog is looking to escape its confinement or is looking to meet up with other dogs or people so they can have some company. Dogs just don’t like being left on their own.

7. Curiosity

Dogs simply love to explore their environment and will gladly spend endless hours nosing around their environment looking for adventure. The earth contains all sorts of smells and attractions that spell great fun for a dog so they will gladly dig away to see what they can find and explore.

8. The denning dogs

The instinct to create a den is very strong in a dog and you may find them digging to create a little home for themselves in the back garden. This is something they would be doing continually in the wild.

9. Mimicking dogs

The answer to the question of why dogs dig may lie in their ability to mimic what they see around them. Dogs are great mimics and will imitate anything that they see in their environment. This includes people and other animals. My dog has often started digging as soon as I started to dig in the garden. It’s quite possible your dog is just imitating you or other animals that it sees.

10. Attention seeking

If you might have rewarded your dog negatively for this behavior and now it has become a more fixed habit. It’s best here to ignore the digging behavior and look for positive behaviors to reward instead.

Can You Stop A Dog From Digging Holes?

Probably not completely. The best way to handle this is to let him have his own corner of the yard to dig up as the dog pleases. When you catch him digging elsewhere, say “no” and take him to his own area. Praise him when he digs there. You might want to sweeten the pot by burying a few treats there. If he finds goodies there on a regular basis, he’ll be more prone to dig where you want him to.

If your garden is a favored trenching location, you need to be a little sneaky. Hide where he can’t see you, and squirt him with a hose when he enters the forbidden area. Or set up a sprinkler, and turn it on. The key is to make him think the garden is doing it to him, not you.

And don’t punish him if you find holes in the garden later. Your companion lives in the present, and can’t understand that you’re upset over something he did yesterday.

How To Stop Your Dog From Digging?

If you are wondering how to stop your dog digging you are not alone. There are literally millions of pet owners around the world that are in a similar situation. If you spend any time in your garden and put some work into making it look nice it can be really frustrating to see it all dug up when you come home. The following are some of the more simple solutions that I found over the years for helping your dog to stop digging.

General exercise

One of the simplest and easiest things you can do to stop your dog from digging is to simply make sure that your dog gets enough exercise. This can eliminate a whole variety of behavioral problems that your dog may be exhibiting and is one of the easiest ways to stop your dog digging.

What the dog doesn’t like

Apart from exercise another way to stop your dog digging is to place something in the hole that he doesn’t like in order to discourage the behavior. I say something your dog doesn’t like here because this can vary from dog to dog. For example, some dogs hate the smell of their own feces whereas other dogs are ok with it. Placing some of your own dog’s poop in the hole he is working on may stop him digging. Find something your dog doesn’t like that is not going to harm him and pop it in the hole when he isn’t looking.

Digging yourself

One of the solutions for how to stop dogs digging holes is to get out there and dig up any treats or bones the dog has buried. Don’t let him see you do this but when he finds that they are not there when he digs in the ground the next day it can discourage him from this type of behavior in future. This can work really well for some people.

A sprinkler solution

If you want your dog to learn how to stop digging holes you could install a sprinkler system in the areas of the garden that the dog likes to dig. When your dog approaches the forbidden area and starts to dig you can switch on the sprinkler. This method works really well when you are trying to prevent your dog from digging when you’re not there. The dog will perceive the garden itself as punishing him for his digging behavior.

Providing a place to dig

In so many ways the digging behavior of dogs is just a normal part of their makeup and looking at for a permanent solution for how to stop your dog from digging for good is unrealistic. Dogs will dig as part of a denning instinct, out of curiously, and out of frustration and boredom to name but a few reasons. This is why it makes sense to have a specially designated part of the garden where they can dig in peace. With the proper instructions, your dog can learn what part of the garden is ok to dig in and you can then reach a compromise where you can have a nice garden and they can have all the digging activity they want.

Dogs Digs Lots Of Activity

A bored dog is a dog behavior problem waiting to happen. Some dog owners make the mistake of thinking that their pets get plenty of exercise running around the yard. This isn’t true. You might see a dog pacing up and down next to the fence, but this is a nervous activity that doesn’t really burn off all that pent-up energy.

A long walk at least once a day is essential. Twice a day is even better. If you don’t have the time in your schedule, a dog walker may be the answer.

Remember that your dog craves your attention. Spend at least ten minutes every day training your dog. Make it fun for both of you. Learning new things is fun for your dog, and it stimulates his mind. Plus he loves being with you.

Keeping your dog busy, and giving him his own place to dig up is the best way to control this problem.