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A dog sitting in a big hole near the fence

Why Is My Dog Digging Holes All Of A Sudden?

Why Is My Dog Digging Holes All Of A Sudden?

Dogs digging holes all of a sudden are usually due to 3 reasons: Boredom, Heat, and Pest. The most efficient way to solve this problem is to get a sandbox. Sandbox’s are cooler than the air temperature, great places for pest, and are great for hiding toys. However, this article explains 10 other reasons your dog could be digging.

A dog sitting in a big hole near the fence

Why Its Bad For Your Dog To Dig?

  1. Tears Up Your Yard
  2. Ruins Their Nails
  3. Tripping Hazards
  4. Brings Parasites & Bacteria To Surface
  5. Allows For Escapes

How To Stop Them From Digging In Your Garden?

  1. Don’t Let Them See You Dig
  2. Put Up A Snow Fence or Rabbit Fence
  3. Burry Chicken Wire Under Your Garden (Allows Plants To Grow)
  4. Don’t Use Mothballs (Toxic)
  5. Plant Cayenne Pepper, or Coffee Plants Nearby

12 Reasons Your Dog Is Digging Holes All Of A Sudden

Some dogs will hide bones, toys, and food they fine. They do this because its a form of resource guarding. The think the resource is limited and want to prevent others from having it. If this is the case you should notice your dog digging in places in your house. This could include a corner in a bedroom or under blankets.
How To Fix:
The best way to prevent a dog from digging holes all of the sudden is to make sure they know that the resource (what they are hiding) is not limited. One way to stop this is to provide them with many bones or toys.
To determine if this is the case you need to answer one question. Is your dog free roaming or is he tethered?
Is Your Dog Roaming The Yard?
If your dog is trying to escape the holes he digs will be near the fence line. If they are not isolated to this area, then they are not digging to escape. If they are near the fence line your dog may want to escape for 1 of 4 reasons.
  1. Your Dog Is Hungry
    1. How To Fix: Put Food Out
  2. Your Dog Is Dehydrated
    1. How To Fix: Put Water Out
  3. They Are Trying To Attack Something
    1. How To Fix:
      1. Privacy Fence
      2. Put up obstacles
      3. Place rocks near the fence
  4. They Are Trying To Run Away From Something
    1. How To Fix:
      1. Privacy Fence
      2. Put up obstacles
      3. Place rocks near the fence
Is Your Dog Tethered?
If so, are the holes isolated to near the tether. If not, then they are digging for another reason. If it is near the tether they may be digging for the same reasons above but they could also be uncomfortable. They might have an issue with the harness/collar or length of the tether.
How To Fix:
 Change the harness to a more comfortable one and increase the teether line.

Your dog is digging to ease boredom. You see this when you leave your dog alone in the yard for more than an hour. Make sure to rule out overheating as a cause. If the weather is fair, boredom could be your culprit.  However, if your dog is a low energy breed and begins digging holes all of a sudden this is not the answer. It is important to know your dog.

How To Fix:

Provide mental stimulation via training, providing toys in the yard, or flirt poles.

The ground is cool. When temperatures are above 70 degrees Fahrenheit a dog will dig to cool down. If the weather has changed all of a sudden this might explain why your dog has begun digging holes.

How To Fix:

Provide a shelter for the dog.  You can buy or make your own dog house or you can provide a canopy for the dog to lay under.


Dogs will begin to dig holes all of sudden when they spot bugs or rodents like ground squirrels and bunnies.  However, you would see this year after year. This most likely does not explain why your dog is digging holes all of a sudden. However, if you think back and your dog has always been a digger, this could be your culprit.

How To Fix:

You can try hiring a pest control company but make sure to tell them that you have a dog. Make sure they are using chemicals safe for dogs. Remember dogs eat grass and plants. Thus anything applied topical could end up in their digestive tract. You may have to limit your dogs ability to be in the yard for a few weeks after treatment.

Dogs digging holes all of a sudden can be a sign of stress or anxiety. However, this behavior is usually paired with whining and barking. If your dog is not whining or barking then this is most likely not the cause of your dog digging all of the sudden. Dogs will Stress can include:

  1. Change In Routine
  2. New Family Members
  3. Family Member Going Through Distress (Job Loss, Family Loss, Sickness)
  4. Separation Anxiety
  5. They Are Afraid Of Something (Lawnmower, Leaf Blower, Neighborhood Dog)

Some dogs might have a sickness that is causing them to dig. Liver disease, picca, and nutrient deficiencies are all known causes to digging. Pica is a condition in which the dog craves and eat non-food items. If your dog is eating strange things, take him to the vet immediately. However, if the behavior only occurs outside then its not likely the cause of why your dog is digging all of the sudden.  If your dog is digging because of nutrient deficiencies you may need to change your food.

A dog will dig when they are vulnerable. This can be due to an upset stomach or due to severe issues such as kidney failure. You usually see lethargy paired with this behavior. If your dog is their normal self this might not be why your dog is digging all of the sudden. However, you should watch your dog for the next couple of hours to see if the disease progresses. See your vet immediately if you suspect this to be the cause.

Dogs will leave a room when they are about to pass. When left outside they may even dig. This is because they are in a state of vulnerability and are creating a den. However, you would see other signs that indicate you should take your dog to the vet. They include:

  1. Crying, Yelping, Whinny
  2. Agitation
  3. Sensitive To Touch
  4. Growling or Snapping
  5. Limping Or Difficulty Walking
  6. Refusing Food
  7. Rapid, Shallow Breathing

If you have a female dog that is pregnant she might dig to create a den. However, this is usually done within a couple of hours of birth. At this point you should know your dog is pregnant and not leave her unattended outside.

Many times when our dogs start digging we yell at them,  or we come outside. If your dog is digging for attention then you are giving them exactly what they want.

How To Fix: Stop giving them attention. Let the digging play out for one year and fill up the hole. If the digging happens the next year then you need to rule this out

Are you a gardener? If so, you may be teaching your dog to dig in your yard.


How To Fix: Avoid letting your dog see you dig

Have you ever watched two dogs play? Many times they run from one side of the yard to the other. They begin to create patterns in your yard due to tight turns. It may appear that your dog is digging when in reality they are creating tracks.

It's In Their Genes

Many of the terrier breeds dig because that is what they were bred to do. Dogs were bred into 8 categories. The most common diggers are the terrier breeds. 

Terrier Group

These dogs were bred to go to ground, hunt vermin, and bolt the fox from its lair. Energetic, sporting, and sometimes noisy, most terriers are affectionate by nature, but they can nip. People familiar with this group invariably comment on the distinctive terrier personality. Terriers are feisty, energetic dogs whose sizes range from fairly small to big. Terriers typically have little tolerance for other animals, including other dogs. Their ancestors were bred to hunt and kill vermin.  They make engaging pets, but they need owners that can match their dogs’ lively characters.

Behavior Characteristics:

  • Feisty and energetic
  • High-energy
  • Hardy and independent

Potential Challenges:

  • Tend To Dig
  • Territorial
  • Tend to be vocal
  • Tend not to tolerate other animals
  • Can be snappy
  • Smaller dogs may have difficulty with house training
a chart of terrier breeds

Sporting Group

Gundogs are included in this group. They are used to detect, flush out, and retrieve game. Usually gentle natured, many dogs in this category have the dual role of huntsman’s dog and family pet. Naturally active and alert, sporting dogs make likable, well-rounded companions. Members of the group include Pointers, Retrievers, Setters, and Spaniels. Remarkable for their instincts in water and woods, many of these breeds participate in hunting and other field activities. Owners of sporting dogs need to realize that they need regular, invigorating exercise.

Behavior Characteristics:

  • Active and alert
  • Tend to be easily trained
  • Enjoy swimming / playing fetch
  • Can make great therapy/service dogs

Potential Challenges:

  • Can be destructive
  • Can be mouthy, especially as puppies
  • Separation anxiety
  • Can be possessive
A chart of sporting breeds

Non-Sporting Group

Non-Sporting dogs are a diverse group. Non-sporting dogs are sturdy animals with various personalities and appearances. Talk about differences in size, coat, and visage! Some dogs in this group are unusual to see in households. Others, like the Poodle and Lhasa Apso have quite a large following. The breeds in the Non-Sporting Group are varied  in terms of size, coat, personality, and overall appearance.

Behavior Characteristics & Potential Challenges:

  • Varied due to group diversity
  • Check out a specific breed’s characteristics at AKC Website
a chart of non-sporting breeds

Hound Group

Some hounds hunt by scent, some rely on their keen eyesight. Hounds are good natured but have a propensity to roam. Most hounds share the common ancestral trait of being used by humans for hunting. Some use acute scenting powers to follow a trail. Others demonstrate a phenomenal gift of stamina as they relentlessly run down quarry. Generalizations about hounds are hard to come by. This is because the group encompasses quite a diverse lot. There are Pharaoh Hounds, Norwegian Elkhounds, Afghans, and Beagles, among others. Some hounds share the distinct ability to produce a unique sound known as baying.

Behavior Characteristics:

  • Inquisitive
  • Independent
  • Often gentle
  • Generally good for families

Potential Challenges:

  • Can be indifferent to training, making them seem stubborn
  • Wanderlust
a chart of hound breeds

Working Group

This group covers the traditional guards and workers, such as the Rottweiler. Bred to work. Most are fearsome, natural guards, and are happiest when they are doing a job. Humans bred these dogs to perform jobs such as guarding property, pulling sleds, and performing water rescues. They have been invaluable assets to man throughout the ages. The Doberman Pinscher, Siberian Husky, and Great Dane are included in this group, to name just a few. Quick to learn, these intelligent, capable animals make solid companions. Dogs in this category are usually big and strong. Many working dogs are unsuitable as pets for average families. And again, by virtue of their size alone, these dogs must be properly trained.

Behavior Characteristics:

  • Generally strong and smart
  • Confident
  • Protective
  • Very capable of being trained

Potential Challenges:

  • Can be possessive
  • Protective
a chart of working breeds

Toy Group

Traditionally regarded as lap dogs, many toy dog breeds come within this category. Many are splendid guards, keenly intelligent and affectionate. However some are possessive, and courageous to the point of stupidity. The diminutive size and winsome expressions of toy dogs illustrate the main function of this group: to embody sheer delight. Don’t let their tiny stature fool you, though, as many Toys are tough as nails. Toy dogs will always be popular with city dwellers and people without much living space. They make ideal apartment dogs and terrific lap warmers on nippy nights. (Incidentally, small breeds may be found in every group, not just the Toy Group).

Behavior Characteristics:

  • Varied
  • Full of personality
  • Loyal

Potential Challenges:

  • Can be snappy
  • Tend to be vocal
  • Can be territorial
  • May develop separation anxiety
a chart of toy breeds

Herding Group

Humans bred these dogs to herd and protect sheep and cattle. Many are still used by shepherds and farmers, but they are also extremely adaptable as pets. The Herding Group, created in 1983, is the newest AKC classification. These breeds share the fabulous ability to control the movement of other animals. An example is the low-set Corgi, perhaps one foot tall at the shoulders, which can drive a herd of cows many times its size to pasture by leaping and nipping at their heels. The majority of Herding dogs who live as household pets never cross paths with a farm animal. Nevertheless, pure instinct prompts many of these dogs to gently herd their owners, especially the children of the family. These intelligent dogs make excellent companions and respond beautifully to training exercises.

Behavior Characteristics:

  • Intelligent and energetic
  • Easiest and most willing dogs to train
  • Loves companionship
  • Well-suited to sport and competitions

Potential Challenges:

  • Anxious
  • Can exhibit fear-based aggression
  • Can be snappy
  • Can be destructive
List Of Herding Breeds

Miscellaneous Class

There are several hundred distinct breeds of purebred dogs which are not recognized by the AKC. Those officially recognized for AKC registration appear in the Stud Book of the American Kennel Club.

Behavior Characteristics & Potential Challenges:

Varied due to group diversity Check out a specific breed’s characteristics at AKC Website

Photo of all dogs included in the miscellaneous breed class

The Sandbox:
Generalized Fix To Why Your Dog Is Digging All Of A Sudden

While this article is all inclusive, the most common reason why your dog is digging all of the sudden is because of:

  1. Boredom
  2. Heat
  3. Pest/Vermin
  4. In Their Genes

Boredom is very common with herding breeds like border collies and shelties. However, terriers are most likely digging due to their instinct to hunt vermin. What ever the reason your dog is digging, one of the best solution is to get a sandbox as it fixes the three major causes. 

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