A dog buries its head in a hole.

Why Do Dogs Dig?

Why do dogs dig? Only by understanding the reason behind a dog’s behavior can you attempt to change it.

There are many reasons for your dog’s digging, with some of the most common being:

Whatever the reason for your dog’s digging, it is important that you don’t punish them after the fact. Punishment will not address the cause of your dog’s digging problem, and if the digging is motivated by fear or anxiety, punishment will make the situation even worse.

If you try to remedy the problem, but find that your dog is still actively digging, try to provide a safe digging zone where this kind of behavior is permitted.

Here are some ways to do this:

Digging for Entertainment

Why do dogs dig holes for entertainment? These are the most common reasons:

If you want to keep your dog from digging in the yard, you need to help expand your dog’s world and increase their time spent socializing with humans. Here are a few suggestions:

Hunting Prey

Your dog may be digging to try to catch animals that burrow in your yard. If your dog seems to be focused on a single area in the yard, this may be a sign of digging behavior that involves hunting prey.

If you have burrowing animals in your yard, try to make your yard unattractive to them. Use safe, humane methods to fence them out or to exclude them. Never use any product or method that could be toxic or dangerous to your pets or other animals, and remember that anything that can poison wildlife can also poison your dog.

Digging for Attention

Dogs seek attention naturally. Any behavior can become attention-seeking behavior if the dog learns that it provokes a reaction, even if it ends in punishment. If your dog digs in your presence, or if your dog has limited opportunities to interact with you, then they may be digging for attention. Ignore this poor behavior, and give your dog plenty of praise for good behavior.

Digging for Comfort and Protection

Dogs have been known to find inventive ways to stay cool during hot weather. As such, they may decide to dig holes and lie in the dirt to cool off. In addition to staying cool, a dog may dig to provide themselves with shelter from cold weather, wind, or rain. Here are some signs that your dog is digging for comfort or protection: