Dog in a hole it dug.

Is your backyard dappled with more divots than an 18-hole golf course? At Naperville Animal Hospital, we dig dogs as much as you do, and you can turn to us for tips if you’ve got a dog who digs. We’re happy to discuss your dog’s behavior at every preventive care visit and whenever you have questions. Our pet experts are here to help you decode— and de-escalate— this decidedly destructive behavior! 

Reasons Why Dogs Dig

Your dog’s desire to dig dates way back to his wolf ancestors and is just as ingrained in his dogma as sniffing and barking. Certain breeds are even more prone to digging, particularly terriers, like Jack Russells, airedales and fox terriers. Hound dogs like beagles are totally into digging, as are wiener dogs, and hard-working breeds like huskies and malamutes. 

But what’s his endgame? Your dog could be digging for any one of the following reasons:

  • There’s something beneath the surface. A dog’s instinct to hunt could be triggered by a ground mole or other critter you can’t see but your dog can sense. 
  • He’s regulating his temperature. Alaskan breeds may hollow out the earth to keep warm when it’s cold or to cool off when it’s hot.
  • He’s protecting what’s his. If you haven’t seen your dog’s favorite toy (which we hope aren’t your car keys) for the past few days, he could have hidden it in the yard to keep other animals from finding it. 
  • He’s an escape artist. The grass is always greener on the other side, and that may be where your dog wants to go if he’s digging near your fence.
  • He’s bored. Dogs that aren’t walked enough and provided with adequate stimulation may resort to digging as a way of entertaining themselves or alleviating anxiety

Curbing Your Canine’s Desire to Dig

Just because your dog’s digging habit is common or ingrained in his doggie psyche doesn’t make it a desirable behavior—at least not in the garden or flower beds. Follow these helpful hints to gently correct the problem:

  • Spend time in the backyard with your dog so you can redirect his attention if he starts to dig. Play fetch, throw a Frisbee, or do something else your dog enjoys, and reward him for his good behavior.
  • Professional training is another option that can help curb unwanted behavior while building trust and strengthening the bond you have with your dog.
  • If you have room in the yard, consider giving him his own sandbox or area where it’s OK to dig. Bury his favorite chew toys to make it extra special and to encourage him to dig only in his special place.

We’re passionate about helping dogs enjoy long, happy lives with the families who love them. Please contact us if you have questions about your dog’s behavior or to schedule an appointment.