Digging, Canine

Digging Behavior

By Dr. Karen Burgess

Digging can be a very frustrating and damaging problem. Common causes include boredom/lack of exercise, hunting prey such as moles or voles, temperature control (cool area to lie in the summer), retrieval of buried objects such as bones, and nesting behavior. Anxiety can also lead to destructive digging.

A few things that may help with unwanted digging include:

  • Control of underground vermin. Take care to use products or means that will not inadvertently hurt your own pet.
  • Creating a cool shaded area of the yard.
  • Create a dig friendly zone. Make the area visually different from the rest of the yard either with landscaping or fencing. Bury desirable items in the area to encourage digging in the area (bones, toys, etc.). Whenever your dog is seen heading to dig in inappropriate areas redirect them to their new dig zone. The key is catching them prior to digging in other areas so supervision is essential. Plastic swim pools full of dirt are another option.
  • For dogs that are digging under fences place a layer of chicken wire or hog panels (from local farm store) flat on the ground. Grass will grow over this. Grass should be able to grow through this and the area can even be mowed.
  • Some have had success with placing a pet’s own feces in the holes they dig.