Uh Oh! Your Dog’s A Digger: Why Dogs Dig

Has your lawn or garden ever been sacrificed to the paws of your single-minded dog? If your dog is a digger, you may be throwing your hands up in frustration.

Aside from the holes in the ground, digging is one of the more difficult behaviors to understand, and may be a symptom of a greater problem.

Although it can usually be managed, it’s important to start with an understanding of the reasons why dogs dig.

Genetics and Natural Breed Behaviors

Dogs were domesticated and bred for thousands of years for specific purposes. Many of the breeds we know and love today have been intentionally bred to have a propensity for digging. Consider the following examples:

Terriers – Terrier breeds were bred to hunt for small prey such as badgers, gophers, and rodents, and were specifically bred to dig these animals out of their burrows. Their strong front legs and claws are perfectly suited for digging.

Hounds – Hounds and other hunting dogs may be searching for critters in your yard. These instincts run deep, and if you have gophers or other small animals on your property it may be tapping into your dog’s natural talent – digging for prey.

Siberian Huskies – Dogs naturally seek the shelter of dens, especially Huskies who have evolved making dens in the snow to stay warm. If your dog enjoys having a self constructed space outdoors, digging may be hard to curb.

Stress and Boredom

In other cases, why dogs dig can be related to stress. Digging can be a great stress reliever for dogs, and many of them have great fun at it. Stress can be caused in many ways, but in general falls into one of two categories:

  • Boredom – Dogs left on their own too long without sufficient things to occupy their time will often turn to digging.
  • Separation anxiety – Dogs with separation anxiety need a way to turn their negative feelings into something positive. The mental and physical stimulation from digging is one of many outlets for this energy.


Some dogs are dedicated escape artists. If they can’t find a way over, through, or around, they will often go under. If your dog is trying to escape, consider the reasons why – in many cases, the boredom and anxiety may be the cause.

More Reasons Why Dogs Dig

There are myriad other reasons why dogs dig. Other considerations for your dog might be:

  • To hide treats for later. This may also be a sign of overfeeding, so check with us about your dog’s weight and amount you should be feeding.
  • To stay cool. Dogs may like to dig a cool spot in the dirt or in the sand at the beach.
  • To protect their valuable items, dogs may dig and deposit said items in a hole. It’s in her nature to want to protect special toys and treats from predators.

Whatever the reason your dog digs, keep in mind most of them stem from natural instincts. If you fear separation anxiety is a factor, give us a call to schedule an appointment. Separation anxiety rarely resolves on its own, and in many cases only gets worse without treatment.

If you have other questions about your dog’s health and why dogs dig, please reach out to us! Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates is your partner in pet health, and we’re happy to talk with you.