Dog behavior can be both befuddling and frustrating. Their quirky antics can add joy to an otherwise dull day, but sometimes their behavior crosses the bridge into destructive. Digging holes in the yard is one of these less-than-desirable behaviors. If you experience this, you might wonder why my dog digs holes in the yard and how to stop my dog from digging holes

Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?

It’s Biological

The most basic reason dogs dig is that they’re biologically wired to. This behavior is as instinctual for them as sniffing or barking. Some dog breeds dig to chase prey, while others do it just because it makes them happy. In fact, humans started breeding certain breeds specifically because of these digging behaviors, especially in regard to hunting. 

It’s Cooling

Digging a shallow hole in the earth can help a dog stay cool on a warmer day. If you notice the number of holes in your yard increases as the temperature rises, you might want to have a little more shade for your pup. Be sure they have plenty of cool, clean water that is easy to access. Many pet-friendly cooling products are also available to help your dogs beat the heat without destroying your yard.

It’s Comfortable

Sometimes pregnant dogs dig because they start to get a nesting instinct. As she gets closer to her due date, she might feel the need to prepare a den that is comfortable and safe for the arriving pups. If your dog is not prone to this behavior normally and you start to notice it while she’s expecting, it will most likely go away on its own after she delivers her babies. 

It’s Helpful

While many dogs dig to chase prey that fled underground, others dig a hole to bury their food (or favorite toy). They do this to reduce the risk of someone stealing their food or beloved bone. Sometimes they even forget where they buried it originally, however, so they might create a few more holes as they search for it. 

It’s Freeing

Some dogs hate a barrier of any kind. This could mean trying to dig under a fence to escape the yard. These escape artists are often motivated by:

  • Boredom (they want to go try to find something fun to do)
  • Loneliness (some dogs, especially those that have not been spayed or neutered might go search for a mate)
  • Anxiety (this often happens around the 4th of July because of the loud noises from fireworks)
  • Separation anxiety (some dogs are afraid to be alone)

How to Stop Your Dog From Digging Holes

While it can be difficult to stop your dog from digging completely, you can give your yard a little bit of a break in some ways. Figuring out why your dog is digging is the first step. Do you know which of the reasons above is why your dog is digging? If you are having trouble, a professional dog behaviorist might be able to help. Finding and working with the trigger will give you the best results. You can also:

  • Provide mentally stimulating toys to keep your dog engaged and entertained while outside
  • Walk or exercise your dog more since lack of exercise can lead to behavioral issues
  • Get a sandbox where your dog can dig all he wants (you might even want to bury some toys or treats to encourage him to use it)
  • If there are animals burrowing in the yard, seek humane ways to remove them
  • Train your dog in the yard to keep them occupied while outside
  • Provide a comfy shaded area out of the sun 

Here is a more detailed list of ideas for how to stop your dog from digging holes. Identify the “why” and work to reduce or eliminate their reason for digging, or divert their attention. 

At Union Lake Pet Services, we provide thorough training and behavior modification services. Whether you are struggling with a dog who won’t stop digging or one who is hard to handle on a leash, we can help. To learn more about our services and how they can help your dog, please call (248) 363-6262.