Why Is My Dog Digging Holes All Of A Sudden?

Dogs are pretty great pets. However, there may come a time when your dog does something that you don’t appreciate. It could be that your dog doesn’t quite understand boundaries about food and keeps trying to take your food, or it could be that your dog seemingly wants to spend its time outside just digging holes. Sudden changes of behavior in animals is something that often indicates that your dog is unhappy with something, but the question is, what could make your dog dig holes throughout your yard?

When you see your dogs digging holes, it often means that your dogs are either nervous or bored. It can also be a natural behavior seen in mother dogs that are expecting puppies soon. There are even some cases where it can be the equivalent of a child drawing on the walls, where your dog is just having fun albeit not in the best way.

Here are five of the most common reasons why your dog might be digging holes suddenly.

Digging to Chase its “Prey”

If you find yourself wondering why is my dog digging holes all of a sudden, there are a few answers that you will want to look toward. The most common cause of sudden hole-digging is that your dog has caught the scent of something interesting and it wants to explore. More often than not, this will be the scent of another animal burrowing underground. This is the part that plays to the instincts of the dog, as wild dogs would learn to hunt by catching prey and hunting it down, even if it meant getting its paws dirty. This is more common in areas that have large, expansive yards than in urban areas, but it can still happen in the latter. Typically, the dog will stop digging when the scent is gone or if it loses interest. If your dog seems extremely stubborn or persistent, you might want to guide your dog away from the area and wait a little bit for the scent it caught to go away.

Digging to Relieve Anxious Energy

The second most common answer to the question of why is my dog digging is that your dog may be anxious about something. Separation anxiety is the most notable form of destructive anxiety in dogs, and if your dog has a chance to be outside while separated from you, it may try to dig holes. This can also be seen if you have a dog sitter coming over and the dog sitter notices the behavior. This is a situation that needs to be addressed and your dog must be trained out of it. Most dogs don’t “outgrow” separation anxiety, and you need to work with your dog on special anxiety-reduction methods to teach your dog that you leaving is not the end of its world. Left untreated, separation anxiety can be costly in terms of the damage your dog causes when it is in an anxious wreck. This behavior can also be seen if your dog is stressed due to other external circumstances, such as a major addition to its home or the family packing up and preparing to move.

Digging to Escape and Explore

The third most common answer to why is my dog digging holes is because your dog wants to explore the world beyond the fence around your yard. Some dogs, especially smarter breeds, will realize that they can dig out underneath your fence. No matter how well-loved your dog is, the idea of exploring an unknown territory is tantalizing, leading to it trying to dig underneath the fence. Dogs that are historically bred to chase and hunt prey will be much harder to deter, as it is hardwired in their minds to catch their “prey” (often a passing rabbit or cat) at all costs. This is another problem that you should try and train your dog out of, and in addition, you should consider having your fence installed deeper into the ground to buy you some time if you are looking the other way.

Digging to Make a Nest for Puppies

This situation is exclusive to expecting dogs that are due to give birth soon. Pregnant dogs will often dig a “nest” for their puppies and if they spend a lot of time outside, there’s a good chance they will want to make their nest there. This is only a temporary situation and will often go away once the dog has had its litter, so you can choose to either urge the dog to build its nest inside where it can’t dig or you can let the dog be comfortable in the nest it built outside. It may be harder to deter an expecting dog away from the nest that it wants to naturally create.

Digging for the Sake of Digging

There are some dogs that are surprisingly genetically predisposed to display digging behavior. This ties into several of the above examples. For instance, the Terrier breed is well-known for its incessant need to dig. This comes from the fact that Terriers were once bred as hunting dogs, meaning that they instinctively know how to hunt down their prey. Over time and as people have stopped needing dogs to chase away vermin, Terriers still retain their desire to dig, and are more prone to digging out of stress, boredom, and simply wanting to dig for fun. Terriers are not the only dogs that were born to dig, but they are the most prominent for it, and your dog may also be one that was bred to dig. It can be harder to deter these dogs from digging, but with a combined approach of teaching the dog not to dig and eliminating temptations for digging, you can ensure your dog doesn’t keep the habit for long.