Why Do Dogs Dig & How to Stop Them?

Dogs have been digging for thousands of years, and while it’s a natural behavior for them, it can be a source of frustration for many pet owners. Digging is deeply ingrained in a dog’s instincts, and understanding why they do it is the first step to preventing or redirecting this behavior.

Reasons Why Dogs Dig:

Instinctual Behavior

Digging is an instinctual behavior for dogs, dating back to their ancestors. Wild canines would dig to create dens, hide food, or find prey. Domestic dogs have retained this instinct, and some breeds are more prone to digging than others due to their genetic heritage. 

Solution: Consider designating a specific area in your yard where your dog is allowed to dig. Bury toys, treats, or bones in this area to encourage them to dig there instead of in unwanted areas.


Boredom is a significant motivator for dogs to start digging. If they don’t have enough physical or mental stimulation, they may dig as a form of entertainment, restlessness and to expend energy. 

Solution: Ensure your dog gets enough exercise (e.g. through regular walks and playtime) and mentally stimulating activities such as puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys and training exercises. Mental stimulation can be just as tiring as physical exercise.

To Cool Down

Dogs may dig to create a cool spot in hot weather. Digging into the ground allows them to access cooler soil, offering relief from the heat. 

Solution: Always ensure your dog has a cool, dry and shaded area to relax and has plenty of clean water. Consider bringing your dog indoors or using cooling mats during warmer weather.


Some dogs may dig to find the scent of other animals or even as a way to escape their yard to seek companionship or explore. 

Solution: If they are seeking companionship, try letting them meet and play with other dogs (while being supervised of course) . Dog parks or organised play dates can help your dog enjoy the company of other canines as well as tiring them out! If your dog has a need for adventure, try taking them to new places such as a beach, new park or new suburb where they can explore some different smells.

You can also train your dog to understand the “no digging” command. When you catch them in the act, calmly say “no” and redirect their attention to a toy or activity. Reward them when they obey your command. 

Anxiety & Stress

Digging can be a manifestation of anxiety or stress. If a dog is feeling anxious or insecure, they may dig as a way to comfort themselves or release nervous energy. 

Solution: If digging is a response to anxiety or stress, consult with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer to address the underlying issues.

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