Help! How Do I Stop My Dog From Digging Holes?

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Dog digging hole (caption: How To Stop Dog From Digging Holes?)At first, you may think that you’ve got to do whatever you can to stop your dog from digging holes in the yard. But as it turns out, the dog may be doing this for an important reason. Instead of getting upset at your pup, consider why he or she might be making a minefield out of your backyard. Here are some common reasons your dog might dig holes in your yard and how to stop a dog from digging.

Article Overview

Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?

  • Out of boredom or lacking adequate exercise 
  • In classic “dig your way out of prison” fashion, they are attempting to escape the yard.
  • They may be escaping something they fear — neighborhood dogs or natural events such as thunderstorms.
  • Anxiety and separation issues that arose from their general lifestyle, not necessarily from the condition of the backyard.
  • They might hear the sounds of underground creatures and bugs, or smell something buried in the ground, and dig holes to attempt to find them. This will often cause random placement of holes around your yard.
  • To escape the summer heat — if you live in a hot area, your dog may try to dig himself a cool hole to rest in.
  • They could be lacking certain minerals in their diet, and dig holes in the hope of finding them in the soil in your yard.
  • Terrier breeds are natural hunting dogs, and will instinctively dig in the ground for prey or food. There’s no point trying to deny their instincts.
  • Your dog may be digging a hole to stash away food or items of shelter. This is a natural preservation instinct.
  • Female dogs may dig holes as part of their natural mating behavior.

How Do I Find Out Why My Dog Is Digging Holes In Our Yard?

Rhodesian Ridgeback Digging Hole in YardThe best way to discourage digging behavior is to first explore the reasons, listed above, that may induce your dog to dig holes. But most importantly, you should realize that digging is a normal doggie trait.

According to a national survey1, more than 83% of American dog owners have dogs that dig holes.

Furthermore, canine experts affirm that digging is a natural adaptive behavior seen in the wild. In other words, dogs are going to dig holes, for one reason or another, and you shouldn’t put too much effort into how to stop dogs digging. Hindering dogs from carrying out their natural, predisposed functions is not good for their health and well-being.

How Do I Stop My Dog From Digging Holes?

Dog Digging HoleDepending on the reason above, you need to take different approaches to get your dog to stop digging holes in your yard. If your dog is digging random holes throughout the yard, he or she is most likely smelling or hearing something underground and trying to get to it. How to stop dogs from digging, in this case, is you could try digging a larger hole for them in an acceptable location in the yard and try and motivate them to dig only thereby burying treats for them to find.

As far as the other reasons are concerned, in most cases, digging is a natural behavior. The most important thing to confirm is that your dog is well taken care of. Make sure they are getting enough food, but not too much (or they may dig a hole to hide the left-overs ;), and make sure they are kept in an appropriately climate-adjusted environment. They should have a place to sleep, be kept up-to-date with their veterinary appointments, etc.

These are all things you need to check off your list as a responsible dog owner before attempting to find fault in your dog’s behavior and to stop dog from digging. Even then, a dog’s behavior often has a natural source. Unlike humans, dogs don’t have the will to be ill-intentioned, and in the case of digging holes in your backyard they are following a natural instinct or learned behavior that, while annoying to you, is out of survival or need for them. Answering the question, “Why do dogs dig holes?” can be as simple as instinctual.

Video: Tips From A Trainer

Here’s a video from the Santa Fe Animal Shelter about why they do it and some tips on how to get dogs to stop, including using deer repellent crystals.

Other Odd Behaviors

In addition to digging holes, our canine friends have many more habits that are somewhat curious and maybe even a little gross to us humans.

You know the feeling: Someone ‘forgot’ to scoop after his dog left a little present on the lawn, and the next thing you know, you turn around to find your dog sniffing and eating it! Learn more about why dogs eat poop and what you can do about it. Dogs rolling in poop is another common yet smelly behavior. In addition to digging holes, dogs may like to eat dirt too.

If you have tried all of the above and nothing seems to help, see your veterinarian or seek the help of a professional dog trainer. Your dog may have a digestive disease or a medical disorder that requires prompt professional treatment.

What behavior is your dog obsessed with?

Sources: Campbell, W. E. The prevalence of behavioral problems in American dogs. Modern veterinary practice (USA), 1986.

About The Author:

Alex holds BS degrees in Management Science from the University of California at San Diego, and Computer Science from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is the co-founder of Canine Journal and his first dog was a Dalmatian named Domino. Alex and Domino quickly became best pals as dog walks, hikes, an uncanny sense of what Alex was going through at any particular time, and other canine adventures enhanced Alex's life and well-being.

Alex's experience as a parent to several dogs since then have given him over 15 years of canine insight and perspective that he brings to Canine Journal. While he's been versed in everything from basic dog training techniques, canine diet and health, to pet insurance, the takeaways he holds most dear are the inspiration to live every moment to the fullest, and start each day with gusto and a tail wag.

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