Our pets are one of the most important members of our lives. When you are a dog parent your responsibility is not just limited to giving your furry friend the utmost care and love, but also sometimes it means putting up with the sudden unexpected behaviors of your doggo.
So, have you wondered why your oh-so-quiet dog in the backyard suddenly became a digging enthusiast? Well, you are not alone. Many dog parents are at first puzzled by this new behavior of their dogs and they get too worried. Dogs can surprise us with various behaviors and this sudden digging tendency is certainly one of them.
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In this article, we will dig deeper just like our four-legged companions, and find out possible reasons for this quirky habit. So, let’s get ready and uncover the reasons why my dog suddenly digging holes all of a sudden.
Table of Contents
Common Reasons for Sudden Digging Behavior
Reasons for digging can be many and it is important to find out the cause and solve the issue in the beginning. Unexpected digging in dogs can lead to health hazards for your fur babies. So, it is necessary to determine the reasons for this dog digging behavior change.
1. Boredom and Lack of Stimulation
When your dog is physically inactive, it’s good both for your dog’s mental and physical health. Long-term inactivity, lack of stimulation, and boredom lead the dogs to adopt such behavior as they try to find ways to keep themselves engaged.
So, if you have been not taking out your dog for walks or runs, and he simply sits at home all day, you are more likely to discover that your dog is digging out of nowhere. Basically, your dog’s energy is used in the right way and it makes him prone to engage in behavioral changes like digging and you can even notice an abrupt increase in digging as well.
They adopt this new behavior to keep themselves busy and distracted from the boredom they are experiencing.
2. Instinctual Behavior
While digging is not unusual for dogs, sudden dog digging spree can be a challenge for pet parents. One of the key reasons why dogs suddenly start digging holes can be traced back to their innate instincts. When they sniff something unusual, they might start digging a hole in the yard.
Additionally, this behavior in dogs stems from their ancestry as wolves who dig holes to look for food or find shelter for their little ones. As an instinctual canine behavior digging is ingrained in your dog’s DNA and even today they can reflect their primal instincts. Sometimes they dig holes to create a safe space for them to hide toys in primitive times wolves used to hide their food.
3. Temperature and Weather Changes
Another key reason for dogs to dig holes in the yard can be changes in the temperature of the weather. With changes in weather, whether it becomes hot or cold, dogs start looking for comfort and protection.
So, if you see your dog digging a hole in the yard on a sunny afternoon, it’s probably your dog who wants to lie down in the hole and escape from the heat. They also dig to protect themselves from extreme cold or rain. In general, dogs are incredibly sensitive to temperature changes and digging helps to find their comfort.
4. Health-Related Causes
If your dog is going through any health-related issues such as any injury, illness, or deficiencies, you might see this sudden change in digging habits. When they are not in their best health, they will try digging holes to find shelter and protect themselves. Sometimes dogs have unusual behaviours such as Pica.
This is known as chewing and consuming unhealthy substances that have no benefits to the dog’s physical health. You may have noticed your dog chewing a number of objects lying around your place but when he starts consuming them, the problem arises.
If your dog is suffering from this condition, he may adopt the habit of digging. Infections and nutritional imbalances can lead to pica behavior as well.
5. Anxiety and Stress
Stress and anxiety are important factors when it comes to your dog’s sudden behavioral change. Your pet can go through stress and anxiety due to many reasons. When your dog is left alone for a long time, he can feel separation anxiety and can start digging holes.
Besides, the sound of thunderstorms and loud noises can make them feel afraid and unsafe. When they are under such circumstances, they feel a lot more anxious than usual and their canine behavior triggers them to dig holes.
Pregnant female dogs have a natural nesting instinct and they try to create a safe space to give birth to their puppies and care for them. Hence, you will see your dog digging holes if she is pregnant.
Also, during pregnancy dogs go through temperature changes in their body and they dig holes to keep themselves cooler or warmer depending on the weather conditions.
Moreover, dug-out holes often provide extra comfort to pregnant dogs which they need during their pregnancy. Digging behavior can also occur due to hormonal changes in the body that a female dog undergoes during pregnancy.
7. They are playing
Sometimes you need to worry a lot if your dog is digging holes as for them it’s fun and play. When they feel bored and their energy is not used properly, they start playing with themselves, and digging holes is just another way of having fun for them.
8. Hiding something
Your dog likes to enjoy his stuff all alone. If you have more than one animal, you might see this happening often. One of your pups will try to hide any toys or food in a hole dug by them. Sometimes when they get a new toy, they carry it around and finally hide in their secret spot to keep it guarded from other animals or just for fun. It is also a brain-stimulating game for them.
9. Seeking attention
When your dog notices that you pay a lot more attention to him when he starts digging a hole, he tends to do that more often. It happens more with dogs who spend a lot of time alone and do not get the maximum attention from their owners. Even if you punish your dog for digging holes, he will continue to do that as he is aware that draws your attention towards him.
10. Hunting prey
As the ancestor of wolves, dogs have natural hunting instincts in them and even when they are not in the wild, you can see this behavior triggering in the form of digging holes. They get stimulated by hunting instincts with small animals like moles, rodents, or insects.
If they detect the smell of any of these animals, they will start digging holes. Additionally, animal droppings can also trigger their smell and they will dig holes.
Once again, dogs have a tendency to create a den for themselves which stems from their ancestral behavior. Denning helps them to create a secure space for themselves and provides comfort. They sometimes start denning in the blanket as well.
12. Wanting to escape
Sometimes dogs dig holes beneath a fence. It can be due to curiosity, they want to see what’s happening on the other side, or if they smell something different they would want to explore. Also, it can happen if they want to mate.
Preventive Measures and Solutions
1. Providing Adequate Exercise and Stimulation
Your dog needs regular physical stimulation and activity to ensure that he does not adopt any such habit as digging holes. Every breed of dig requires a different amount of exercise, so choose accordingly. However, a minimum of 30 mins outdoor walking and running is recommended daily.
Keep your dog engaged by playing with him. If you have a dog park nearby, take him out to let him play and run with other dogs. Mental stimulation activities like catching the ball or toy can keep them distracted and their energy levels up.
2. Designated Digging Areas
You can keep a designated digging area for your doggo in the yard. You can let your dog keep his treasures like toys and play with them a game of fetch. If your dog starts digging holes in other places, you can punish them by loudly saying “No”.
This way he will know that he is only allowed to dig in a specific area and reward them when they only dig in that area. Keep the digging zone filled with sand or soil. Proving outlets like this will certainly help with the behavior.
3. Behavioral Training and Positive Reinforcement
Only punishing your dog can take a wrong turn and lead them to even more stress and anxiety. Rather training them from the beginning on where to dig and how to behave can help them learn better.
Reward them with their favorite treats when they follow your instructions. Also, spend a lot more time with them to keep them feel safe and secure. A little extra care always instills faith and love in them and they will show their love for you by behaving appropriately.
4. Consulting Professionals
You can consult a vet when you see this behavior persisting in your dog for a long to check if there are any underlying medical conditions. A certified dog trainer can also help you assess your dog’s behavior and develop a customized training plan for you.
They can offer positive reinforcement techniques to redirect your dog’s behavior. If external factors like pests are the reasons behind sudden excavations, then consult a pest control expert to address the root cause.
If you are worried about why your dog is digging holes all of a sudden, you have the answers now. Dog digging holes is not unusual and it is quite a common behavior in fur babies. From temperature changes to anxiety, your dog goes through a lot. All you need to do is give some care and spend some more time with your companion Take the right measurements and your doggo will just be perfectly alright.
1. Could anxiety or stress be causing my dog’s sudden digging behavior?
A: Yes, stress and anxiety can lead to your dog’s sudden digging behavior. When they are left alone for a long time, they experience separation anxiety and they go through mental stress as well, and this can lead to digging behavior. They adopt this behavior as an outlet to release their pent-up emotions and energy.
2. How can I determine if my dog’s sudden digging is due to instinctual Behavior?
A: You can determine if your dog’s sudden digging is due to instinctual behavior by observing if they dig in patterns that resemble denning, bury objects, or exhibit nesting behavior, especially in response to temperature changes. If your dog has never shown this behavior, it can be just an instinctual behavior passed down from ancestors.
3. Can I redirect my dog’s sudden digging behavior to a specific area?
A: Yes, you can redirect your dog’s sudden digging behavior to a specific area by creating a designated digging spot in your yard with soil or sand, or even a small sandbox, and encouraging them to use it through positive reinforcement.
4. Is there a link between sudden digging and lack of exercise?
A: Dogs often dig holes out of boredom or lack of physical activity. Hence it is important to keep your dogs regularly physically stimulated with outdoor activities or else they try to use up their energy by digging holes.
5. Can health problems cause sudden digging behavior in dogs?
A: When your dog is sick or going through any infection, allergy, skin disease, or injury they can start digging holes to try to reduce their pain and discomfort.