The Root of the Behavior
Your dog might behave like he is attempting to win the award for best escape artist by digging holes, but there a variety of reasons that could cause this natural behavior. First, your dog has hole digging in his DNA. He inherited it from his ancestors who used this skill when living in the wild. Dogs often dug holes to feel safe, protected, to give birth to puppies, and to hide from harsh elements and predators. Dogs are den animals that seek comfort in a den-like environment. A common way they created a den was by digging a hole and crawling inside of it. They often dug the holes a specific size that was large enough to fit their body. This meant they had to attempt to dig the hole step-by-step until their body fit inside comfortably. Have you ever observed your dog circling his bed or the hole he is digging? This was often a behavior required in the wild while digging a den-like structure. Dogs would dig the hole and attempt to fit inside by circling the hole to figure out how to fit their body inside.
Another logical and natural reason dogs dug holes in the wild was to cool off from the hot weather. They would dig holes until they reached a cooler temperature. They have sensors in their paws that helped them determine when they reached the desired temperature. As a domestic dog, your pup might be bored and enjoy digging holes to keep him busy. There’s also a chance he is experiencing separation anxiety and is attempting to comfort himself by hiding in a den-like structure, also known as a hole, for security. If your dog tends to dig holes while you are at work or away from home, he could be showing signs of anxiety caused by being separated from you.
Encouraging the Behavior
As a pet parent, you don’t need to encourage this behavior because it’s natural. While this harmless behavior doesn’t need to worry pet parents, there is a time when you should be concerned. Dogs often attempt to dig holes when they don’t feel good. If your dog doesn’t usually dig holes then suddenly does and attempts to sit inside of it, you should observe his behavior a bit closer. A clear sign that can give you a hint your dog isn’t feeling good is if he also hides under the coffee table or other furniture and seems depressed or sad. Dog’s can’t speak for themselves but this behavior is a big sign something can be happening with your dog’s health.
Sometimes it is something as simple as an upset stomach and other times it is something more serious like pain due to arthritis. If you sense your dog is feeling sick, it is best to take him to the veterinarian or local animal hospital for further review. A thorough exam will reveal any health issues your dog might be experiencing. If you are not sure if it is just your dog experiencing a low mood level or if he could be sick, you should have a medical professional take a look at him just to out rule any health issues.
Other Solutions and Considerations
Determining the cause of your dog’s desire to dig holes is essential to solving the issue. Treating the cause such as finding out if it’s medical related or due to boredom, curiosity, or a natural instinct will help lessen or stop the behavior. If you aren’t able to determine the cause, you should consult with a professional dog trainer for further assistance. Professionals are experienced with observing dog behavior and finding the best way to treat the issue. If you don’t want to consult with a dog trainer you can discuss the issue with the veterinarian for recommendations on how to treat the issue.
Digging holes is not considered a serious issue unless it’s medically related. Some pet parents might need to get the issue under control due to the condition of their yard. Some homeowners associations (HOAs) are strict about landscaping and holes can lead to fines. If your dog is your new landscaper, it’s time to hire a new one by putting a stop to his digging habit today.