Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?

Image of a dog with muddy paws after digging

Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?

Last week, you found a suspicious-looking hole by the roots of a tree in your backyard. A few days ago, you spotted another dug-out space along the bottom of your fence. And today, you discovered a fresh mess of dirt and holes in your newly planted flower bed. It certainly could be a groundhog, a mole, or even a family of digger bees. But Wagsworth thinks there’s an even more likely culprit—especially if your pup typically has grubby paws after playing outside. You have a dog who loves to dig!

Exploring Four Common Reasons Behind Your Dog’s Hole-Digging Habit

Whether your fur-baby was originally bred for digging, like a Terrier or a Dachshund (yes, believe it or not, those adorable little legs are specifically designed for burrowing), is a spirited young puppy looking to burn off some energy, or has some other reason for turning into a little shoveling machine, digging is a paw-pular activity that many dogs enjoy. But why exactly does your dog get the urge to dig holes all over your yard? Wagsworth may be able to help you unearth this mystery. The following are four reasons your dog might feel like it’s their mission to dig:

#1: Is your dog hiding their prized belongings?

Before dogs were domesticated, they hid leftovers and other possessions underground to keep these treasures safe from other animals. Even though the stakes probably aren’t quite as high in your backyard as they were in the forest centuries ago, some dogs still get territorial about their belongings. So, if your pup has a bone they’re not quite done with or a favorite toy they can’t bear to share, they might decide to bury it. A dog who has siblings may be especially inclined to stash their bone or ball underground to keep it away from their brothers and sisters. However, while your dog might be an expert excavator, they probably aren’t a very skilled map maker. So, if your dog likes to bury items in the yard, it’s entirely possible they will forget exactly where they’ve hidden these cherished items, which, as you may have guessed, means they may need to dig several extra holes just to locate the spot of their buried treasure.

#2: Is your dog hunting little critters?

Animals like chipmunks and moles can sometimes sneak their way into your yard and burrow underground. Though you may not notice their presence right away, your dog surely will, thanks to their amazing senses of smell and hearing. Once your pup has detected a small animal, their natural hunting instincts may kick in—as well as their desire to “save” you and your home from an unwelcome visitor—so they may attempt to access the critter’s den. What’s the best way for your dog to do that? Digging, of course! If you’ve noticed that your dog concentrates their hole-digging efforts around the roots of trees or shrubs, where small animals often like to make their homes, it’s likely that your fearless fur-baby is trying to apprehend a tiny trespasser.

#3: Is your dog making a special spot to chill out and relax?

When a beautiful day hits, neither you nor your pup has any desire to spend it inside. So, out in the yard you both go—you to do some gardening and your pup to zoom around in the fresh air and sunny skies. But just as you’re probably going to need a time out from all that yardwork, your pup is likely to want a respite from all that playing. While you laze in your hammock or a patio chair under an umbrella, your four-legged bestie surely wants to have a similarly cozy, cool spot where they can take a siesta. If you have an industrious dog, they might just make a “bed” for themselves by digging a hole into the refreshingly cool earth, often under the shade of a tree so they can achieve maximum comfort.

#4: Is your dog giving their body and brain a workout?

If none of the above reasons seems to explain why your pup is digging holes all over your yard, they may simply be adding some variety to their play routine. Digging is a great way for dogs to not only stimulate their minds but also work off pent-up energy. On any given day, your fur-baby might choose to do some creative and challenging “landscaping” over going to town on their favorite chew toy. Overall, digging holes is a great way for your pup to exercise both their body and brain.

Though a dog’s digging is typically a harmless activity, there may be times when you need or want to redirect your pup’s attention away from this behavior, either to keep them safe or to prevent your yard from ending up looking like the surface of the moon. Once you’ve determined the likely reason they’re digging in the first place, you may want to try one of the following tactics:

  • If there are signs that your pup is on the hunt, you may want to contact an expert to safely and humanely remove any small animals from your yard.
  • If your dog appears to be burying things, you could try designating an attractive digging spot, like a children’s sandbox, for them to hide toys and treats in and then give them lots of praise when they use it.
  • If you think your dog wants a cool, comfortable place to take a break, you could really elevate their resting spot by getting them a special piece of outdoor furniture like a rattan dog sofa, a hooded dog bed, or a waterproof memory foam pillow.
  • If you suspect your bestie might be digging due to boredom or excess energy, you could treat them to a challenging puzzle toy and try to squeeze in extra walks around the neighborhood or more trips to the dog park. Better yet, why not book them for a day of camp at Wagsworth? We guarantee our guests will never get bored and will get plenty of exercise and stimulation!

Need help making your dirt-loving dog shine again? A spa day at Wagsworth should do the trick.

All that digging your dog has been doing takes a lot of hard work and can make quite a mess, especially if your pup loves not only digging holes but rolling around in them as well. So, let Wagsworth help get your fur-baby looking and smelling their best again. The dirt from your yard is no match for our experienced team of groomers and the variety of grooming and spa services we offer. You can either set aside a special day and time for us to pamper your pooch or add our grooming services to your pup’s next Daycamp experience or overnight stay. Your dog is sure to leave our award-winning spa feeling like four-legged royalty.

Now that we’ve dug deeper into the question of “Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?” you may want to find out the reasons behind other similarly quirky things your dog might do. You’re in luck, because Wagsworth has a blog series in which we address curious behaviors, like “Why Do Dogs Get the Zoomies?” and “Why Do Dogs Sniff Everything?” We hope you enjoy learning more about the adorable, entertaining, and occasionally puzzling things your pup does.