Dog Training and Dog Care advice from UK Professionals

Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?


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Dog Digging HoleTo understand why your dog loves to turn your manicured lawn into a lunar landscape, we need to look to the dog’s ancestor, the wolf.

In the wild, the prime reason for a wolf or a wild dog to dig a hole is to provide itself with a safe shelter in which to rest.

This instinctive behaviour in dogs is commonly seen in pregnant bitches towards the end of their pregnancy, where they will dig a den either in their whelping box or elsewhere. This is a sure sign to the owner that the birth is imminent.

A wolf or a wild dog will also dig a hole or shelter to create a cool den when the sun is at its highest or to preserve body heat when the temperature drops. The northern sled dogs dig deep holes in the snow and curl up nose to tail to remain snug and warm even in the fiercest blizzards.

Dogs, both wild and domesticated sometimes also dig holes to bury the remains of a kill after they have eaten enough. They will often leave their food for days before returning to dig it up and eat it.

Some dogs dig holes in the garden simply because they are bored. This often occurs in the working breeds when not receiving adequate mental and physical exercise. The exercise should match the dog's working ability such as taking part in Agility, Obedience trials, Gundog work, Schutzhund or Ring sports.

For some dog breeds, digging holes is what they have been bred to do. Most of the terrier breeds have been bred to go underground and dig into tunnels to catch and kill rodents or moles that burrow deep underground. In fact, the word ‘terrier’ comes from Latin and means ‘to hide’ so terriers are renowned for digging not just holes but deep tunnels. Other breeds of dogs have been bred to dig out Badgers.

Digging holes can also be an indicator to a more serious behavioural problem such as excessive anxiety, nervousness etcetera. It can also suggest medical or neurological problems, but does not require a visit to the vet unless this behaviour is particularly excessive or is increasingly common in your dog without any apparent explanation.


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