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Why Do Dogs Love To Bury Things?

Written by ADAPTIL Expert, published on May 09, 2024

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Most dogs love digging – no surprise there! We’ve all seen them out in the garden or on the beach, with their heads down, dirt and sand flying everywhere. But why do dogs bury things so often? This amusing and sometimes frustrating dog behaviour has deep roots in a dog’s natural instincts. We’re taking a look at why dogs love burying things and how you can manage this behaviour if it becomes problematic.

A Dog’s Natural Instinct To Dig

Digging is an instinctive activity that comes naturally to most dogs, and with good reason. For the ancestors of our domesticated pooches, the ability to dig would have been hugely beneficial for survival and securing meals. For instance, dogs in the wild wouldn’t always have known where their next meal was going to come from, so they would create a stash of hidden food beneath the ground to return to later. In fact, this feeding behaviour is an important explanation for why domesticated dogs love to bury things, be it toys, food, or anything else left around your house!


Dog digging in the sand next to a human.


Interestingly, this digging instinct can vary significantly between different dog breeds. Some dogs – such as terriers, Dachshunds, and Beagles – were bred by humans to hunt small rodents and often needed to dig into tunnels to catch their prey. While modern domesticated dogs no longer have any need to hunt, this ingrained instinct to dig for potential food can still be particularly strong in these breeds. After all, food is food!

Why Do Dogs Dig?

Instinct aside, several explanations might also answer the question of why dogs bury things:

  • Creating a Den: Pregnant females might dig to create a den for their expected litter. This provides a safe place for puppies when they’re at their most vulnerable.
  • To Cool Down: If a dog is feeling too warm, they may dig a shallow bed in the earth to cool down. You might be more likely to see this dog behaviour in pooches with longer coats or on hot days.
  • Exploration or Escape: Dogs might dig to get under barriers such as garden fences. This could simply be to explore or to reach something on the other side.
  • Entertainment: Digging can also be a great source of fun for many dogs. It keeps pooches busy, relieves boredom, and can be particularly effective at getting human attention!
  • Safety: In extreme cases, a dog might try to dig to create a safe place to hide.


Dog digging a hole at the beach.

Digging as an Indicator of Boredom or Anxiety

If a dog is digging out of boredom or anxiety, this could be a sign that they need more physical or mental stimulation. Observing your dog’s behaviour and the circumstances leading to digging can provide valuable insights into their emotional state. If you’re concerned your dog isn’t receiving enough stimulation, check out our guides on exercise and keeping your pooch mentally healthy.

For dogs that are bored, it’s generally best to aim for two or three shorter walks to break up the day, instead of one longer walk. Regular training sessions, playtime, and puzzle feeders can also be great ways to counter boredom.

Alternatively, if your dog is showing signs of anxiety, why not consider using ADAPTIL Calm? This dog pheromone diffuser is great for creating a relaxing atmosphere to help dogs feel comfortable at home. ADAPTIL Calm can be used in a range of stressful situations, from helping dogs with loud noises to dealing with general fears.


Dog digging a hole in the garden.

How To Stop A Dog Digging

Stopping a dog from digging altogether can be very difficult and isn’t generally recommended. After all, digging is instinctive and part of a dog’s natural behaviour! That being said, if a dog is digging excessively or is creating problems, there are strategies we can use to manage and redirect this dog behaviour:

  • Physical Barriers: Place obstacles in areas where you don’t want your dog to dig, like large stones or paving slabs.
  • Provide A Designated Digging Area: Create a specific spot for digging in, like a dig box or sandpit. Bury treats or toys to encourage your dog to dig in this area.
  • Create Shade: Ensure there are cool, shady spots in your garden so your dog doesn’t need to dig to cool down.
  • Supervise and Distract: Supervise your dog in the garden and distract them with toys or games if they start digging in unwanted areas.
  • Rotate Toys: Limit the number of toys available at one time to reduce your dog’s urge to bury them. Regularly rotating between the toy options that your dog has to play with can keep them interesting and engaging, preventing boredom from setting in.
  • Quality Time: Spend ample time with your dog to prevent them from using digging as a means to attract your attention.
  • Understand the Motivation: If your dog is digging due to stress, find ways to alleviate it such as with ADAPTIL Calm.

When To Seek Help

If you’ve noticed your dog has started digging more than usual, we strongly recommend consulting a vet. While there could be a harmless reason behind this behaviour, it’s best to rule out any underlying medical issues.

Likewise, if your dog’s digging has become a problem, it’s a good idea to contact a qualified dog trainer. They can provide support and a plan of action to redirect your dog’s digging habits.

Are you interested in learning more about dog behaviour or looking for tips on how best to care for your dog? Get in touch! We love helping in any way we can. You can also stay informed with our latest tips, guides, and product information by signing up to our newsletter.

Following our expert tips will help to ensure your bond with your dog goes from strength to strength.

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