Why do dogs dig ? And do you need dog training?

dog diggingFirstly let me say WOW – DIGGING is listed on many sites as a ‘canine behavior disorder ”   !

Its like people forget that dogs are animals first and pets second. And that they evolved from wolves and have a lot of wolf behavior. the main difference from wolves is how man purposely bred and changed or increased certain wolf traits to suit their own purpose.

Dogs have mostly been evolved by man to do certain work tasks for man. Only recently has man moved off the farm and kept pets mostly for entertainment and companionship reasons.

SO the dogs that mostly dig, and dig a lot, are those that are mostly from breeds that were bred specifically to dig.


The wolf mainly learnt to dig to provide dens as cover for raising their young. It was a big and one off task, they did not dig every day.

Wolves mainly hunted fast moving big animals, they chased, caught, killed and ate where the prey died or brought some back to the den for the females and young.

Not a lot of extra digging was required.

Below is a none exhaustive list of the reasons for dogs digging:

  • to get warm or stay cool,
  • to entertain themselves,
  • to bury valued items,
  • hunting ground-dwelling animals.


The first two items (regulating temp and for fun) are natural digging things encouraged for all dogs. Dogs need to do primal things to keep in contact with being a dog and to not go insane. A dog digging the floor or carpet as it turns around in a circle is to brush aside imaginary grass to be comfortable sitting.

If a dog does this digging to lies down for a long period, its a good chance you have not walked it and it is very bored. Its digging is seen as an OCD matter and you need to consider getting the dog out more often – or its in pain, or you don’t have enough dog beds around that are comfortable for the dog to lie down. Dogs would find naturally comfortable grass areas or soft sand to lies on in the wild, not hard flat surfaces. You try lying on your floor all night and let us know how comfortable you find it?!

  • bury valued items, and hunting ground-dwelling animals.

These two items are primal and valuable for a dog too.

A dog can become obsessed with objects such as their toys and can get fearful that you or a dog will take them away from the dog. If your dog is not aggressive around food or toys, then this can be OK, except when they dig a toy up it will be quite rotten and you won’t want that in the house.

Sometimes burying toys is a sign of massive insecurity that can lead to a bite if you get near a dogs toy or food. THIS needs dog training and a dog trainer to stop. Read the next article for more tips.


This heading should make common sense, but so many people buy jack Russell’s or many ‘common’ terriers and are so surprised at how much the dog digs. particularly when a dog is a puppy, has excess energy and is not walked, you will find holes all over your yard and sometimes house.

You need to burn that energy and socialise your dog !

If a dog is bred and shaped into a terrier who’s main function in life is to dig our vermin for their owner then get praise and food and a place to stay, imagine what they feel like centuries later when you stop this innate desire that was bred into them as important as breathing?!

You need to redirect that energy and we look at that in the next article.

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