The Dog Project Homepage
Dog Behaviour, Training and Education

Dogs Who Dig

Is digging a problem in your backyard?

The most common reason dogs dig is that they enjoy it.  It is a natural behaviour that stimulates and occupies your dog.

The most common solution is to provide alternate sources of stimulation and enjoyment for your dog.  If he or she has used up their energy on an interactive toy then they will be less likely to dig.

There are a huge range of toys on the market that require your dog to work at them to release the food inside. Some of the ones we like or think would be worth trying include:

You can also build your own interactive toys from the recycling bin:

  • Box of Treats – put some food inside a cardboard box and fold the lid over. Your dog will need to pull the box apart to reach the food
  • Toilet Roll Surprise – stuff newspaper in the ends of an empty toilet roll, with some food in between

Other reasons dogs dig include:

  • Temperature – to cool themselves down or warm themselves up
  • To smell & reach bugs & insects
  • To get somewhere
  • To store food

If they are digging for temperature consider providing a warm, dry area for your dog (in winter) or perhaps a small paddling pool (in summer).

Digging to escape can also be due to a lack of enrichment in the yard, mating urges in entire animals, or separation anxiety.  Providing a more stimulating environment can help with both boredom & separation anxiety. 

A digging pit where you bury toys and treats can encourage your dog to dig in an area set aside for them. 

Dogs like new things so mix up what you leave them with, and rotate their toys.  This will sustain interest in each toy for much longer. 

Not all toys are suitable for all dogs.  Be sure to supervise their use of them first before leaving them alone with the toy. 

If digging continues to be a problem consult your veterinarian or behaviouralist for help. 

Visit our enrichment ideas page for more suggestions.