Why Dogs Dig Holes And How to Prevent it.

dog digging lawn

Our Labrador puppy loves the garden, it’s his happy place. I’m OK with him chewing on twigs and chasing birds (which he’ll never catch because he can’t fly) but I don’t like it when my dog digs holes in the yard. This behavior has made me curious. Why does my dog dig holes?

In this article we’ll try to explain once and for all why dogs dig holes. If us humans can figure out what’s going on in their little doggy brains then maybe we can understand their motives.

We’ll also identify some of the most common behavioral issues that cause dogs to dig holes. Then you can reduce and eventually completely eliminate this undesirable behavior.  

Potential reasons why your dog is digging holes. 

So why do they do it? Well, there are 5 possible reasons…


Is your dog an escape artist? If he or she is digging a hole that’s beginning to resemble a tunnel then it’s most likely they’re trying to escape under the fence.

They might be scared and want to escape something they fear like thunderstorms, earthquakes or even the neighbors dog. 


If your dog’s digging random holes around the garden that don’t seem to go anywhere then maybe they’re suffering with separation anxiety.

Digging and chewing can be very calming for a dog because it gives them something to do instead of just sitting around wondering when you’ll finally get home. 


Sometimes dogs dig purely because they’re bored. The soil feels nice and cool, there are lots of fun smells and textures and if they’re lucky they may even find some worms or bugs to play with. 

Digging holes is a good way to keep occupied, better than chewing on your garden furniture anyway! 


Dogs don’t have sweat glands like us humans, instead they pant to release the heat from their bodies. This means they overheat quickly and may dig down to the cooler soil below ground in an attempt to cool off. 

If your dog’s digging holes to escape the summer heat it is absolutely vital that you make sure they have access to shelter. A dog kennel is essential because it will give them their own little house to cool off in.  

Instinctive Behavior 

Terriers and other breeds that are typically used for hunting have a tendency to dig because they’ve been bred to do just that, it’s instinctive.

Beagles for will sniff out prey and dig to retrieve it because it’s literally what they were born to do.

Your dog might also be digging a hole to squirrel away food for a rainy day. This is a natural survival technique whereby they preserve food for a time when it’s not as easily available.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Digging Holes?

The truth is, it’s hard to stop dogs from digging holes because it’s a trait that’s so embedded within them.

Canine experts believe that digging is a natural behavior that’s been shared by both wild wolves and domestic dogs since the beginning of their existence.

Stopping your furry friend from carrying out their natural function could actually  be bad for their mental health because its a task that comes so naturally to the canine species. 

That said, there are some circumstances whereby you could reduce the behavior if you get a little creative.

If your dog’s digging multiple holes in the yard then there’s a strong possibility that he or she is trying to get to some treat hidden beneath. Why not try digging your own hole somewhere else in the garden and burying treats in the hole.

If you bury multiple treats in a preferred  area it might encourage the dog to just dig in this one spot, protecting your veggie patch.

It’s also important to consider whether or not your dog is happy and healthy. Is your dog too hot? is it in good health? is it hungry? Thirsty? Lonely? Anxious? Has it been checked by a vet recently?

If any of these things are making your dog unhappy then they are more likely to dig. Once these issues cease so will the digging.

In some circumstances however digging is a necessary evil. Although holes in the garden might seem frustrating it’s a small price to pay for the lifelong loyalty,  companionship and joy that a dog provides.

Written by Jenny Harland

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