Has your dog begun digging holes in your backyard? While dogs may love this activity, it can have significant consequences for their guardians. Digging is not only harmful to your property, but it also provides a possible escape path for our beloved dogs.
If your dog is leaving holes all over your area, it’s essential to understand that it’s not out of anger or wish to ruin your property; instead, they’re looking for fun, affection, relaxation, freedom, prey, or defending themselves.
So, why do our dogs start digging holes out of nowhere, and how can you stop them? You will be shocked to know that your dog could be digging up your backyard for a variety of reasons. Hence, they’re all behavioral, and you can train them to break free from this unpleasant habit.
Digging is inherent in a dog’s DNA. While all dogs have this instinct in some form or another, certain breeds have a more vital need to dig than others. Some dog breeds are born for hunting and digging since they were masters chasing little animals into their tunnels.
Dogs dig for various reasons, but the root of their habit may be traced back to their wolf forebears. Digging is as much a part of a dog’s culture as barking and sniffing. It is a natural habit that dogs learned from their wolf ancestors (AKC).
Digging is something that all dogs do to some level; it’s as intuitive to them as barking or wagging their tails. Even if your dog isn’t a problem digger, you’ve probably seen them “dig” in their bedding or sofa cushions before falling asleep.
What Could Be The Possible Reasons?
Human involvement heightened the digging tendency in certain breeds of dogs. However, there are many other reasons which are explained in detail.
Smelling Things Underground
Do you know that dogs have more than 300 million smell sensors in their noses compared to just 6 million in humans! And the portion of their brain that is responsible for scent is around 40 times larger than ours. Now, this is something you didn’t know, right?
It’s no surprise that they can detect things buried under the surface that they want to uncover. But it’s not just their strong sense of smell; it’s also their keen sense of hearing. They can even hear those high-pitched sounds that we cannot.
Some dogs are more willing to dig for rats or other tiny creatures they hear or smell underground. It is especially true of terriers and tiny hound breeds such as dachshunds, which were developed to hunt small prey and rodents.
Many dogs use various animal behaviors to express their frustration and uneasiness, but digging may be a fun pastime for many dogs and provides a release for their problems.
Several situations might cause stress in dogs. If a dog is left unattended for long periods, does not receive enough exercise, or is struggling with the arrival of a new dog to the family, among other things, they may engage in digging activity. It might be the reason for your dog’s abrupt digging if it occurred after a potentially stressful incident.
Boredom and Anxiety
Dogs dig holes because they find it enjoyable. According to The Spruce Pets, digging is a fantastic method for dogs to pass the time or divert themselves from worry. Digging is often an indication that your dog isn’t receiving enough workouts or socialization.
Some dogs like burying items, such as a favorite toy or a treat, for safekeeping. Do you also have a pet dog who likes to hide its toys from other pets in the house? What about a dog who sneaks its treats into another room and eats them in peace? Dogs like this frequently like placing their “favorite toy” in a secure location, confirming that nobody else knows about it.
Some dogs conduct this by digging holes in their favorite yard location and burying their favorite dog toys. These puppies see burying their favorite toy as a brain-stimulating activity.
Many dogs will examine their area for the right location to dig while holding their favorite object in their teeth. They may then toss the item into their new hole, nuzzling the soil with their nose while they do so. Your dog may be trying to hide a treasure if you observe them dragging their favorite things around the yard before digging.
Some dogs have an unending need to run about freely. If an escape artist cannot climb over or through an obstacle, they may resort to going beneath. If a dog can dig a large enough hole, it may be able to get out of its yard. Because fences usually run deep underground, they have the perfect escape route if they dig hard enough.
If your dog feels forced to leave your yard, burrowing under the fence is typically more manageable than trying to go around it. Tunneling activity generally is driven by a desire to reach something on the other side of the fence, such as another dog.
If your dog is constantly digging around the base of your fence, he might be planning an escape. This escape method is complicated for our dogs since they are vulnerable to various misfortunes when exploring the world alone.
Some dogs have a natural need to dig, and others have an overwhelming desire to build a den. While our domesticated dogs may not have needed to make their shelter, their wild forefathers did. It is also why crate training works and why most dogs prefer to sleep in one.
Wild dogs would dig burrows in the earth to shelter themselves and their puppies from the weather, providing them a comfortable place to feel protected. This tendency is why your dog may dig in his blankets when he settles in since it is part of their comfort process.
If you observe your dog digging a hole in your yard and then lying down in it to rest, they may be attempting to build a secure refuge for themselves. When your dog wants to sleep, they may go to the same hole or dig a new one each time they go outside.
Looking For Prey:
Dogs dig to trap underground creatures or insects in your yard. Not only may a passing animal trigger a dog to dig in an attempt to locate them, but their scent can also cause a dog to dig.
Animal droppings and persisting odors might heighten a dog’s interest in hunting, resulting in excessive digging in specific locations. It might be the case if the digging is concentrated on a particular location rather than the yard’s limits.
If you observe more animals or animal droppings in your yard, this may be the reason for your dog’s sudden digging. You may also see your dog digging excessively around trees, rocks, and other known animal hiding places.
To Escape From Harsh Weather Conditions
Wild dogs dig dens to shelter their young. Sleeping in a hole protects newborn puppies from predatory animals as well as severe temperatures (both hot and cold). Our dogs have a strong urge to sleep in and beneath den-like structures.
Dogs often dig a hole in the ground to lie down and cool off in hot weather. They frequently dig and circle at the earth before settling down, as though trying to create a softer resting spot.
Separation anxiety is caused when dogs get sad because they are separated from their owners, the people they are bonded to. Dogs with separation anxiety frequently try to escape, resulting in self-injury and property destruction, particularly at exit places such as windows and doors.
Risks of Digging:
Digging is a common habit among our beloved pets, but it is not without risk. Digging poses several significant dangers to our dogs, so it’s essential to attempt to reduce this habit wherever possible.
A digging dog may cause problems in your garden, bring mud and filth into your home, and require you to put everything on hold to shower them. Even worse, if your digger dog attempts to escape by tunneling beneath a fence, it may be in danger.
The following are some of the dangers that come with digging in dogs. They are breaking nails due to stress or causing Damage to your garden.
There is an increased danger of stumbling over or getting trapped in previously dug holes or enhanced Vulnerability to bacteria and parasites that reside in the soil, which might be quite harmful. It can lead to serious diseases.
How To Stop Your Dog From Digging
Keeping in this digging is natural one cannot completely stop his pet. Because suppressing a dog’s natural behavioral tendencies might have more negative consequences than positive outcomes. You want to channel these desires to cooperate while keeping the rest of the family happy.
It’s critical to figure out why your dog has started digging holes. As previously said, it is vital to get advice from a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist if the issue is connected to fear, anxiety, or health issues.
However, if the behavior is simply natural boredom or play, redirection is the best course of action. However, it is done constructively.
Remove Causes Of Anxiety
Your dog might dig because they are frightened or feel endangered. Hence, it’s critical to figure out what’s causing anxiety. It can be as predictable as shifting: animals are typically stressed by a rapid shift in surroundings.
In this situation, spending quality time with your pet and creating a “safe” place in the new house might be helpful to smooth the adjustment. It will be easier to adjust if they can recreate their sleeping area in a comparable spot.
Dig A Large Hole
Specify a suitable place in your yard, away from fences and buildings, as their designated digging area. You might also make them a big hole to play in. Encourage them and offer them snacks when they play in your selected area. To motivate them to play in the defined area, place some of their favorite toys and a variety of food.
Comfortable Resting Place
If you allow your dog outside for an extended time, make sure they have shade in the summer and shelter in the winter. Ensure that they have access to fresh water at all times.
Make a cozy sleeping place for your dog in your yard. During the day, place their usual bed here, or get a separate bed for outside usage solely. Put a cushion or blanket in it that smells like their indoor bed.
It is essential to allow your dog to do the required dog exercise every day for its breed. Different dog breeds require significantly different degrees of daily activity.
Every day, your dog should spend at least half an hour outside. Increasing their amount of activity may help them burn off the additional energy spent digging holes in your garden.
Dogs require just as much mental stimulation as they do physical activity, and if your dog is bored all day, it might be the cause of his digging.
It’s simple to stop a dog from digging due to a lack of mental stimulation: spend lots of time with your pet doing activities you both like! Playing catch, going on walks, and other dog games are all popular activities.
When your pet is alone, enriching their environment with other dog toys will give them essential stimulation. Other enjoyable methods to increase their everyday excitement include dog food toys and obstacle courses. Find out how to play dog games that will keep their minds active.
If your pet continues to dig around the fence, consider half-burying rocks along the fence’s edge to discourage the behavior. Installing garden fences around areas where you don’t want your dog to dig will help to deter digging in inappropriate places.
Dogs will be deterred just by attempting to jump over or through a fence. Others, on the other hand, could require more persuasion.
A SnappyTM Trainer, which resembles a mousetrap, is a good option. It’s made to create a loud snapping noise that will just frighten the dog and not injure her. Snappy Trainers may be placed all around your plants so that when your dog touches them, he is greeted with an unexpected unpleasant sound.
Eliminate Pests And Small Creatures
To observe a difference in your dog’s digging tendencies, you’ll usually have to remove the pest from your yard. Just be sure your pest-control method isn’t harmful to your dog.
Even if they never actually try to catch them, most dogs like chasing small, fast-moving fluffy animals. You may install live traps and effectively remove small creatures such as moles, chipmunks, and ground squirrels from your property if your dog digs to chase them away.
Note that spanking your dog for this sort of digging is unlikely to succeed, as most dogs find hunting to be naturally pleasurable, regardless of whether it ends in unpleasant results.
Limit Them While Gardening
Do not allow your dog to see you when gardening, such as planting flowers and seeds. Allow them to go for a walk if necessary, or at the very least limit them to the house. They will most likely copy your activity if they witness you digging in your garden.
Use Of Wire Mesh
Bury the chicken wire or wire mesh beneath the top layer of earth in locations where your dog digs to prevent them. Plants will be able to grow through it, but your dog will be unable to dig further or more than an inch below the surface.
You may also place huge boulders over the region where they prefer to dig to prevent them from returning to the exact location.
What Not To Do While Training:
Do not yell, punish, or beat your dog after she has dug a hole. Your dog is unable to relate punishment to an action she took hours or even minutes earlier. Delayed punishment won’t stop your dog from digging in the future, but it may scare and disturb her needlessly.
Fill one of your dog’s holes with water and dip her head for an extended period. This cruel and inappropriate technique will not cure your digging issues, and it may even lead to other, more severe behavior issues.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What kind of dog likes digging holes?
Jack Russell Terriers, Earth Dog, Dachshunds, Cairn Terriers, Airedale Terriers, Beagles, and Miniature Schnauzers are the most frequent dog breeds that enjoy digging holes.
Do dogs ever stop digging?
You could be wondering if the digging will take a long time. Digging is a fun and exciting activity for most dogs, and they will continue to do so unless instructed differently. It is why it’s critical to establish ground rules and train your dog.
What is the best way to keep my dog from digging holes?
The most accessible approach to avoid this is to provide your dog with various exciting and enjoyable activities other than digging. It includes lots of playing, activities, and exercise to exhaust them out.
Is it necessary to punish my dog for digging?
Regardless of why your dog is digging, don’t punish him. It will not fix his habit. Instead, it will intensify any digging caused by fear or worry.
What are the safest places for dogs to dig in?
Edge a particular space with bricks or wood and fill it with sand or loose earth. Then Bury toys, bones, or goodies slightly below the surface level of the sand and encourage our dog to play with it.
Dogs dig due for several reasons. Because each reason is different, it will require various training approaches to stop or prevent them from doing so. The best and only guaranteed approach to preventing your dog from digging is to never leave it unattended outside.
It may not be practical. So, if your dog keeps on digging despite your best attempts, try allowing it to dig in this area. A sandbox is an excellent tool for this. By burying a dog’s favorite toy or treat, you may teach your dog to dig in the sand. Your dog can keep playing without you having to worry about it.