Let’s look into why your dog digs in the dirt, sand, house, and anywhere their little paws dang well pleases.

Dogs love to dig. It’s cute until you have to constantly fill up the holes they decide to create.

I personally love when my dog digs up holes in the sand because that’s easy to fill back in and it’s funny to watch. But what I don’t love is when I am at the dog park and my pup decides it’s her job to start digging up the grass and soil. Especially when she kicks the dirt into other dog part goers.

It can go beyond digging up nature as well. For example, your dog may dig into their bed or scratch into the carpet, floor, or ground. Your dog may also bury bones, balls, toys, or food into these holes as well. Pups may also dig a little before laying down on their bed.

So why do dogs dig holes, anyway? Let’s ‘deep’ dive a little into our (not so) mysterious little canines.

dog digging in the dirt outside

The Main Reason Why Dogs Dig

Why do dogs dig holes? Well, there are many reasons why your dog has taken up the art of digging. The ‘root’ of this behavior goes way, way, way back. The dog’s wolf ancestors have been ingrained into them making this an instinctual behavior.

Many breeds have more digging desires than other dogs given the fact some were bred to hunt. For example, terriers follow their prey into the earth and will dig it up without flinching.

Before dogs were domesticated they used digging as a means to survive. When there were inclement weather dogs would dig to protect themselves and to create shelter. Digging around would also help them to create a more comfortable area to rest in since they didn’t exactly have the luxury dog beds we have today.

Your Dog May Want To Hide Their Toys Or Food

Your dog may dig holes because they want to bury the precious little treasures that they do not want anyone else to touch. Think of it like a safe, but with a little less security. They may also dig because they can’t remember exactly where they hid anything. This also can be traced back to their ancestors because they used to store food to survive.

If your dog is digging into the dirt or grass with a bone or toy in its mouth it can be pretty obvious that this may be the reason. My dog will dig and try to hide her favorite tennis ball but she isn’t very good at covering the ball in her hiding spot. I let her think I can’t see it.

dog digging in the dirt, grass, and ground

Digging Holes Can Be Fun And Entertaining For Dogs

If you think about it, it’s a clever boredom buster. Your dog is mentally stimulated and getting exercise at the same time while scouring in the ground.

If this is an activity that your dog is habitually doing, make sure they are getting enough physical and mental exercise. It could be a sign it’s time to step up as a dog mom and get your dog movin’ and groovin’.

Your Dog May Dig Holes To Become An Escape Artist

Your dog may want to get on the other side of your backyard fence. The easiest and quickest route is pummeling through the dirt and just making their own little escape plan. It’s way easier for most dogs to go under the fence than over.

Dogs may simply try to escape via underground tunnels because they want to hang out with other dogs or see a squirrel. Some dogs may dig into the ground to get away due to separation anxiety, loud noises like fireworks, or they may be scared to be alone. This is super important to recognize because what’s on the other side of the fence may not be the glory they think is there.

dog digging in the dirt, grass, and ground

Dogs Seeking Prey May Dig

This also goes back to your dog’s ancestry. If your dog suspects or smells anything underground that they can catch, they will try to catch it. My dog in particular loves chipmunks, so she will go to the ‘bottom of the Earth’ if she thinks there is one underground. When dogs are on a prey mission they will do anything in their power to succeed.

Your Dog May Want To Build A Comfortable Nest Or Bed

Like most of these rationales of why your dog may dig, this also goes back to their O.G. days. Dogs may want to cool off so they dig their own little nest into the ground where it is colder. Same if your dog digs into their bed–they want to make their resting area comfortable. They didn’t have dog beds back in the day, so they had to be resourceful and make nests of their own.

Why do dogs dig holes - Dog making their own nest or bed by digging into the ground

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Digging?

When the digging is harmless (like in the sand), I let my dogs dig away and have a blast. There are definitely going to be cases where it’s not ideal for your dog to dig. In those types of situations, you do not want to enable this behavior.

The most important item to first figure out is why they are digging. What is their motivation? Is your dog trying to escape? Or just seems really bored? Are they trying to hide something? Once you figure out the root of their behavior you can begin to work with your pup on modifying it if needed.

Finding out why your dog digs will also help you as a dog parent to help your dog fulfill their needs. Make sure you understand this behavior was inherited from them so find a way that doesn’t take that away from them but also doesn’t compromise property.

Here are a few tips to help your dog deal with its digging behavior.

  • Get your dog more exercise.
  • Give your dog more mentally stimulating non-destructive activities.
  • Cover any area with rocks or barricades that they have a tendency to dig around.
  • If your dog is constantly chasing little animals or critters, do research and contact companies that can help deter those creatures from hanging around your yard.
  • Give your dog the type of shelter they crave. If they are looking for their own private area, give them a comfy dog bed that’s their own space or a dog house outside where they can spend some time alone.
  • Figure out the root of their anxiety or fear that may be causing your dog to dig in response.
  • Make sure your dog has options inside and outside depending if they may be cold or hot.
  • Keep your dog inside during loud events (like thunderstorms or fireworks) so they feel safer.
  • Have an area where your dog is allowed to dig. This could be a certain designated area of the yard, a sandbox, or anything creative you can think of. That way they will be able to get their fix in and won’t destroy property.

Do You Dig It?

Now that you understand more of the history and the behavior of dogs digging holes you can start to figure out why your pup digs or has recently started. Making sure your dog isn’t digging for a means to cope with stressors is so important to figure out. You want to make sure your dog lives their best life because they obviously deserve it!

Learn more about your dog’s nesting behavior and check out why dogs take things to their bed.