Digging Problems

Digging is normal behavior for most dogs, but may occur for widely varying reasons. Dogs don’t dig, out of spite, revenge, or a desire to destroy your yard. Finding ways to make the area where the dog digs unappealing may be effective, however, it’s likely that they will just begin digging in other locations or display other unacceptable behavior, such as chewing or barking. A more effective approach is to address the cause of the digging, rather than creating location aversions.

Seeking Entertainment

Dogs may dig as a form of self-play when they learn that roots and soil are fun.

Your dog may be digging for entertainment if:


We recommend expanding your dog’s world and increasing his “people time” in the following ways:

Seeking Prey

Dogs may try to pursue burrowing animals or insects that live in your yard. Your dog may be pursuing prey if:


We recommend that you search for possible signs of pests and then rid your yard of them. Avoid methods that could be toxic or dangerous to your pets.

Seeking Comfort or Protection

In hot weather, dogs may dig holes in order to lie in the cool dirt. They may also dig to provide themselves with shelter from cold, wind, or rain, or to try to find water. Your dog may be digging for protection or comfort if:


We recommend that you provide your dog with other sources for the comfort or protection they seek.

Provide an insulated doghouse. Make sure it affords protection from wind and sun. Dog houses need to be insulated, raised off the ground, and have a flap over the door.

Your dog may still prefer a hole in the ground, in which case you can try the “approved digging area” recommendation described above. Make sure the allowed digging area is in a protected spot.

Provide plenty of fresh water in a bowl that can’t be tipped over.

Seeking Attention

Any behavior can become attention-getting behavior if dogs learn that they receive attention for engaging in it (even punishment is a form of attention). Your dog may be digging to get attention if:


We recommend that you ignore the behavior. Don’t give your dog attention for digging (remember, even punishment is attention).

Make sure your dog has sufficient time with you on a daily basis, so they don’t resort to misbehaving to get your attention.

Seeking Escape

Dogs may escape to get to something, to get somewhere, or to get away from something. (see our resource Escape Artist). Your dog may be digging to escape if:


We recommend the following in order to keep your dog in the yard: Regardless of the reason for digging, we don’t recommend:


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