Why Do Dogs Dig Holes in Your Backyard?

You look outside and you see another hole dug up by your furry friend. If you want to put a stop to the digging, you first need to understand why dogs dig holes in your backyard, to begin with.

Although it can be unpleasant, to say the least, digging is entirely normal for dogs to do. Just because it’s a natural habit doesn’t mean that you have to put up with it, however. Continue reading to understand why your dog digs holes in your backyard and how to prevent it in the future.

Reason 1: Genetics and Hormones

Some breeds of dogs are bred to dig, so they may be doing what their instincts are telling them to do. Furthermore, if your female dog has not been spayed, or a male dog not neutered, your dog may be trying to dig their way out to find a mate.

Genetics or Hormones? How to Know the Difference

Do some research on the breed of dog you have. For example, terriers are one of the breeds that are born to be diggers. If your dog isn’t fixed and there are dogs of the opposite sex making frequent visits, this could be a sign that it’s their hormones causing the excessive digging.

What to Do

Whether it’s your dog’s breed or hormones causing the digging issues, creating a dedicated digging space can give your dog an outlet to do what they want to do – dig. If your dog isn’t fixed, talk to your doctor about setting up an appointment to see if getting them spayed or neutered is your best option.

Reason 2: Your Dog Could be Feeling Stressed or Anxious

Dogs can experience stress just like humans do; they just can’t communicate it to us. A typical cause of stress for your canine is missing you – better known as separation anxiety.

Signs Your Dog is Stressed

If your dog tends to dig mainly when you’re away, this could be a sign that they are missing you and need an outlet for their anxious energy. Other additional signs your dog may be stressed are pacing, licking, or showing changes in their body posture.

What to Do

You may not be able to drop your responsibilities to spend more time with your pup, but there are solutions to help with stress and anxiety in your dog. Just like humans, adding in more exercise is a great way to reduce stress and give your dog an outlet for their overflowing energy levels.

If you continue to notice signs, discuss it with your vet at your dog’s next visit.

Reason 3: Your Dog is Trying to Escape

Dogs are curious creatures by nature, and they may be trying to see what kind of action is going on outside of the yard. If there are any loud or unusual noises, such as construction nearby, your dog may be trying to escape due to fear.

Signs Your Dog is Trying to Escape

One telltale sign your dog is trying to escape is if they are digging around or under a fence. Take notice of any changes to their environment that may cause them to want to get out, such as noise from fireworks.

What to Do

Create a barrier between your dog and the fence to inhibit your dog from breaking out in the first place. Use large rocks, chicken wire, or bury the fence below the surface of the soil. 

Reason 4: They’re Trying to Get Cool

It can get pretty hot outside, especially for your dog, who is essentially wearing a fur coat at all times. The ground is much cooler beneath your yard, so your dog may be trying to dig out a cool space to lie down and get comfortable. 

Signs Your Dog is Digging to Get Comfortable

One good indication that your dog is just trying to create a comfortable outdoor bed is if they lie down in the holes they dig. As annoying as it is to not only have holes in your yard but a dirty pet, your dog is showing you that they need a cool place to relax.

What to Do

During extreme temperatures, make sure that your dog has a place to stay protected, such as a dog house. This way, when they are outside, they have somewhere comfortable to spend their time that doesn’t involve digging up your lawn.

If possible, bring them inside more often, so they aren’t in the cold or heat so much. While they are outdoors, keep an untippable water bowl outside at all times. 

Reason 5: Your Dog is Bored

Your idea of fun doesn’t sound like running into your backyard and digging it all up. To your dog though, digging is an exciting time! 

Signs Your Dog is Digging Out of Boredom

Your dog may be digging out of boredom if they are left outside for long periods or if they don’t have any toys or company. When your dog digs, they see that the dirt is “playing back” and it gives them something fun to do! 

Also, if they see you outside digging in your garden, this could also make them want to join in on the fun.

What to Do

If your dog is digging from boredom, give them something to do other than dig. Make sure they have plenty of their favorite toys to keep them busy, such as a tetherball!

Reason 6: They’re Trying to Hunt

Dogs are natural-born hunters, despite getting fed with a fresh bowl of food each night with ease. Your dog may be sniffing out an insect or animal in your backyard and are trying to dig their way to it.

Signs Your Dog is on the Hunt

If it seems like your dog is following a path or is focusing on one area in your yard, this is a pretty good sign they are trying to hunt something. 

What to Do

Look for signs of burrowing animals, especially nearby the places where your dog tends to dig. Use humane methods to keep them out or remove them. 

Be careful not to use anything toxic. Anything you use to poison other animals can also potentially poison your dog. 

How to Stop Dogs From Digging Holes in Your Backyard

Give Them More Exercise

There are many reasons your dog may be digging, including having too much energy they need to exert. If your pup is getting plenty of exercise, they won’t have as much energy to spend on things like digging.

Create a Space For Them to Dig

Creating a dedicated digging space is a great way to allow your dog to continue doing what they want, and also keeping your yard looking nice. Make a sandpit and bury some toys beneath it to entice them to dig in their digging zone.

Fill the Hole With Poop

As gross as this may sound, it can work. If your dog tends to go to specific locations to dig, filling the holes with poop will keep them from digging there again. Dogs don’t dig where they poop, so this is a simple solution that should work. 

Sprinkle Some Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is a huge turn off to your dog. When your dog begins sniffing for a place to dig and catches a whiff of cayenne pepper, they won’t like what they sniff up. 

Blow Up Some Balloons

Blow up a few balloons, bury them in spots where your dog is digging, and cover them with dirt. When your dog starts digging, their claw will likely pop the balloon, giving them a little scare. Hopefully, this should keep them from coming back for more. 

Praise Your Dog

Yes, you want to actually praise your dog for digging – in their dedicated digging space. When they see that they get attention from you when they dig in specific locations, they’ll stick to digging where they’re supposed to.

What Not to Do About Digging

Punishing Your Dog After the Fact

Although it seems like punishing your dog would keep them from wanting to dig, this doesn’t address the cause of the behavior. Your dog may have noticed that when they dig, they get the attention that they crave.

Furthermore, if your dog is digging out of stress or anxiety, this could make the issue worse rather than better. Even if you bring your dog to the hole, they don’t understand why they are being punished. 

Final Thoughts

Dealing with a digging dog isn’t something that you probably want to put up with, but hopefully, this article gave you some insight into why dogs dig holes in your backyard. Knowing why your dog is digging can help you create the best plan of action.

We hope that you find a solution that keeps both you and your furry friend happy in your backyard!