Ask the Vet: Why Do Dogs Dig Holes?

Sep 5, 2019 by

West Highland Terrier Westie Dog With Muddy Face
 
Digging is a natural behavior in dogs, but it’s not always a favorite behavior of their human parents. You surely know this if you’ve ever stumbled into one of your dog’s lawn craters or seen Fido tunneling his way under the fence.

What most dog parents want to know is why dogs dig and whether it’s a symptom of a bigger problem.

So, let’s “dig in” to answer these questions!
 

Why Do Dogs Dig?

 

Boredom or Stress

 
Most of the time, digging is the result of boredom. Stress can also lead to digging. Your dog may have pent-up energy that needs to be released and digging can provide some physical and mental stimulation.

In this way, getting your dog more exercise by taking them on walks or scheduling playtime is wise. Similarly, consider investing in some engaging toys or food puzzles for when you’re not around.
 

Genetics and Instincts

 
Again, dogs are natural diggers. It’s in their genes to dig for various reasons. They be attempting to:

  • Catch small burrowing animals such as gophers or moles
  • Find a cool spot to lay on a hot day (or a warm spot when it’s cold)
  • Bury food or treats that might otherwise be stolen by competing predators
  • “Den” or build a small home or hideaway where they feel safe

 

Escape Attempts

 
Finally, many dogs dig in order to get away from enclosed areas, like a fenced-in backyard. This doesn’t mean they dislike you, but again, they may be bored, frustrated, or anxious when they’re left alone.
 
 

Should You Discourage Digging?

 
If you want to maintain a nice lawn, then probably yes! Otherwise, it’s not something to be too concerned about, medically-speaking. If your dog is bored or stressed, however, these issues are worth addressing with more exercise, play, time spent together, etc.

The only other possible problems with digging would be toenail injuries, a risk of your dog falling into the holes they’ve dug, or occasional lacerations (often occurring when dogs attempt to dig under fences).

If your dog has lacerations, scratches, or other injuries from digging holes or if you’re concerned about this habit and looking for advice, do not hesitate to make an appointment at Sunset Veterinary Clinic. Simply call (405) 844-2888 for immediate scheduling.

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