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Why do dogs dig?

Most dig for the sheer enjoyment.
They like digging like you like chocolate cake, golf or watching football. Every spring, I can't wait to get my hands in the garden and start planting. Dogs love the smell of damp earth even more than we do!  What did the squirrel put here?  Where did that worm go?


Others dig to relieve boredom.
Digging is a stress-relieving activity, exercise, and mental stimulation for a bored dog with nothing better to do. Chained dogs bark, dig and are more destructive than fenced dogs. Surprisingly for many dogs, a dog door which gives the dog the option of coming inside whenever he wants, can cure digging, nuisance barking AND escaping.


Some dig to escape.
Studies show that intact dogs roam 94% more than their un-neutered counterparts. Spay or neuter! Dogs who suffer from inadequate companionship escape to find social interaction. Your dog needs more exercise than just lying around in the yard all day - if you don't provide an outlet, he'll exercise himself. Many sporting and northern breeds were bred to run, and run fast, for miles. Scent hounds catch a scent and the hunt is on! Increase exercise, provide a fun nose work outlet, and install a concrete or buried wire footing around the perimeter of the fence.

See Article: "Escape Artist" 


Does Your Dog Dig?

digging gus.jpg

Gus the Explorer of Things Underground 

Once you know WHY, the solution becomes obvious ...

A digging pit can help provide enrichment and relieve boredom - and even keep your dog's nails filed!  But will not replace the need for spaying, neutering and providing regular activities and exercise. 


Give your dog a digging pit. 

If he likes to dig, give him an appropriate place to do it!

Select a corner of the yard that you don't care about and make it the doggie fun zone.
Secretly bury a leg-shank marrow bone from your butcher or a favorite toy. Leave a little sticking out. Take your dog out to the spot and encourage him to search.  When he discovers the "gold mine" cheer as he digs it up - join in!  Praise him when he returns to the spot. Daily for a week, and every so often after that, bury favorite bones or toys in his digging pit so his efforts will be well rewarded.


Can't supervise constantly?

Transform a portion of your yard into a destruction-free zone by removing all vulnerable vegetation, sprinkler system lines, etc. and fill it with dog-safe stuff. Give him his own space to redecorate to his heart's content.


Video of a digging pit in action!

Interrupt any inappropriate digging and redirect it to the digging pit - 

"What are you digging there for? The good stuff's over here!" If he finds one or two bones in the pit, he'll believe there might be a whole dinosaur and will return to the spot again and again. Your job is to convince him that it might be true!


For those digging to escape, install wire mesh, rocks, or a concrete footing along the fence line to halt most perimeter excavations.

In all fairness, you must find out why the dog is so intent on getting out and fix that problem.  Neuter? Give him more exercise? More time having fun with you?   (See Intelligent Diversions and Creative Play)

This handout may be reprinted in its entirety for distribution free of charge and with full credit given:
© CAROL A. BYRNES "DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF" Training for Dogs & Their People -
ditr_training @ - 

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