Why Do Dogs Dig?

Updated On: Thursday, January 27, 2022 14:51:21 PM America/Los_Angeles

Digging can seem like aimless and annoying behavior to us humans, but did you know that digging serves a number of important functions for canines? In addition to hunting and creating shelter, digging can also be the result of genetics, boredom, or even stress. 

Photo by Janusz Maniak

The Reasons Dogs Dig

  • Genetics: A dog may be more prone to digging because of their breed. Hunting dogs, for instance, have been bred to dig for small prey. Terriers and hounds tend to be inclined towards digging, but any dog may exhibit this behavior, because it’s one way that dogs have traditionally hunted in the wild. 
  • Escape: It’s important to determine the cause behind escaping. Some pooches might be responding to boredom, while others may be feeling unhappy about their circumstances. Each dog is responding to their individual situation, so it’s up to the pawrent to determine if their pooch is escaping a stressful situation or simply out of curiosity. 
  • Stress: While stress can be a motivating factor for dogs who are trying to escape, some dogs simply use digging itself as a stress relief activity. Not only does digging provide physical and mental stimulation, it can also feel productive for dogs. 
  • Denning: Much like digging to hunt, denning is a hereditary tendency that some canines continue to exhibit. Denning can also be a way dogs find cooler (in summer) or warmer (in winter) places to rest. Breeds like Siberian Huskies may be more likely to den due to the extreme weathers they would naturally face in the wild. Some pups simply prefer the cozy safety of a den to being out in the open, which is why some dogs enjoy being crated

Dealing with Excessive Digging

  • Sufficient mental stimulation: If boredom appears to be the culprit behind excessive digging, provide appropriate alternatives such as interactive toys. A snuffle toy can help alleviate boredom while still satisfying burrowing urges. Interactive toys can also be helpful for pups who are trying to escape because of separation anxiety
  • Dog crates: For dogs who are digging in order to create a den, a crate can help provide a sense of security without the digging. Test out different areas to see which is preferred by your fur baby. Some will prefer to have their “den” next to their human, while others will like having their crate next to the door. 
  • Indoor dog bathroom: Having an indoor pet potty can be helpful for dogs who are prone to digging under the fence. A pee pad like DoggieLawn is a useful alternative for potty trained doggos that might otherwise be tempted to escape through digging. Just be sure to snag an Anti-dig Kit to keep them from pawing through the grass pad.