Digging Dogs: What Causes This Behavior and How to Stop It

Luis Dogalyo
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Surely more than once, your pet has engaged in some behavior that has made you wonder what brought him to it. For example, you have thought, "Why does my dog dig?" The reasons that could lead him to this are several.

Dog digging hole

One of the primary reasons why the dog digs is instinct.

You've probably found your dog digging (or trying to dig) in many places: in the dirt in the park, in the garden, in the sand on the beach, etc. But also on the sofa, on the bed or on the cushions.

All dogs dig at some point. Some do it more than others, and the reasons are very diverse, but analyzing the context and the moment will give us the key to understanding why they do it.

Before moving on to the specific reasons that can lead a dog to have this attitude, it is necessary to clarify that digging is related to their animal instinct.

The ancestors of domestic dogs, in the wild, would dig holes as burrows to protect their young from inclement weather and other dangers such as predators.

This has greatly influenced the fact that today's dogs dig, as some of the reasons have to do with the need to protect.

Reasons Your Dog Digs Holes

Let's now take a closer look at some of the reasons why dogs dig holes.

He has to file his nails.

Yes, what seems so human at first glance, is very much a dog thing.

You see, dogs with very long nails can be really annoying for them. Among other reasons, they will prevent them from resting their pads on the ground normally, affecting their movements, in addition to the fact that they can hurt themselves when scratching.

For this reason, digging in the soil can be a method of filing them naturally. Even so, the ideal is to be aware of these details.

In the care that you should provide for your dog, hygiene is fundamental. And within it, cutting the dog's nails is a task that you should not neglect.

If you do not feel able to do it (you must be very careful not to cut too much and hurt the animal), go to a professional.

Read also: Why Does My Dog Chew His Nails?

He wants to hide something very valuable to him.

As we explained earlier, one of the most basic canine instincts is to dig to protect something they consider valuable.

Your dog may not do it to hide his puppies, but he may very well start digging to protect his favorite toy, a treat you have given him that he wants to keep for later, or some food he has stolen without you noticing.

Protective behavior

Linked to the above is the reason why dogs dig holes. Specifically, if she is a dog and she is pregnant, it is very normal for her to start digging to create a shelter for the litter that is about to be born. It is something, as we said, instinctive.

It can also occur in pets suffering from psychological pregnancy.

To keep the body temperature stable

If your dog digs, he may be seeking to regulate its body temperature.

In summer, by digging and removing the top layer of soil, it finds a cooler layer to lie on. During winter, it will remove the most frozen part and find a less cold one underneath.

In both cases, by lying on the uncovered layer, it will achieve a much more comfortable body temperature.

Follow a scent trail

Another of the most common reasons why a dog digs is because he has found a trail underground.

A dog's sense of smell, thanks to the characteristics of the canine nose, can lead our pet to a buried trail that he wants to discover.

By imitation

Are you planting in your garden? Be careful if your dog is one of the very smart ones!

One of the reasons for him to dig in that location is to imitate you.It is quite likely that you will notice this attitude, as he will probably reproduce it at the same time you do.

Hide his scent

Another reason dogs start digging in the soil is to hide their odor after peeing or pooping.

It is a very common attitude: they relieve themselves, move forward a little, and start digging to put dirt on top of their stool.

This behavior is also very instinctive, because the reason is that this covers the smell and avoids possible predators finding them by that trace.


Canine boredom can lead the animal to engage in many different behaviors in order to entertain itself. One of them can be digging in the ground if this is fun for them.

A dog can become bored if it does not get enough exercise, spends too much time alone and/ or has no toys to entertain itself.

Also, boredom can cause your dog emotional problems such as anxiety or stress.

Stress in dogs

When dogs accumulate energy that is not released, canine stress can appear in them. Therefore, they will dig compulsively to release some stress.

But, in addition to this, as it happens with boredom, emotional problems can lead to very negative attitudes. They can become very destructive to the environment. They can develop some of the most common stereotypies in dogs, or have behaviors such as digging non-stop.

What do I do if my dog digs?

As we have seen, the origin of the reasons that can lead a dog to dig is very varied. Therefore, those that have to do with his natural instinct, such as wanting to hide something very valuable or to cover his scent, should not be inhibited.

However, when the reason for my dog's digging is that he is very cold or hot, bored or stressed, has long nails, or any of the other reasons in which his well-being is in danger, we must act.

  • In all circumstances, we must ensure the dog's complete comfort and optimal health. Maintaining good hygiene by cutting the dog's nails when necessary and not leaving the dog in the sun or outdoors will prevent this behavior from reproducing.
  • Psychological pregnancies can also be avoided in pets by spaying or neutering. Spaying or neutering has many other benefits for the pet.
  • If your dog digs in your garden by imitation, avoid planting when he is present.
  • Boredom, stress or anxiety can also be avoided: make sure the dog gets all the daily exercise he needs, don't leave him alone more than necessary (a working day, for example), make sure he always has suitable toys within his reach, and interact with him when you are together.
Now that you know the main reasons why your dog digs, apply a solution to the ones that can be prevented!

Why is My Dog Digging Holes

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