With Summer just around the corner, you might be out enjoying the backyard with your dog. You may have also tripped in one of the holes they’ve dug up in your lawn.

Some dogs love to dig. Some dogs don’t usually dig but will when they’re feeling ill. Why do sick dogs dig holes? Today we’ll take a look at why dogs dig holes and what you can do to help them stop tearing up your yard.

To find out more about dogs’ digging behavior, read below.

Why Do Sick Dogs Dig Holes?

There are a bunch of reasons why your dog would dig a hole. First, it’s essential to realize that if they are digging a hole, they might not be sick. We’ll go through some of the more common reasons dogs dig below.

A sick dog might dig a hole for protection. If your dog feels ill and doesn’t think it could defend itself, they might dig a hole to help hide. Hiding in a hole would give them a better chance to survive as it provides a physical barrier. It can also provide a cool spot if it is sweltering outside or if they are overheating.

Dogs don’t have the same sense of self that people have. They live in the moment. Because of this, they might start digging a hole, thinking that they need immediate protection. They don’t realize that they are just sick and will recover. They also likely don’t realize that you won’t just let them recover in a hole in the ground.

Don’t be too angry if your dog starts digging in your backyard. Even if you want them not to do this, you need to understand why they are digging to make them stop.

Other Reasons for Hole Digging

Take a look below at some of the most common reasons why dogs dig.


Boredom is a common reason for dog digging. If you send your dog outside alone for extended periods, you might find a bunch of holes in your yard. You shouldn’t blame your pup for digging out of boredom.

Instead, try taking them out for some quality exercise or try rotating in some new toys for them to play with. Giving them something to be excited about can help stop boredom digging.

For Fun

Sometimes dogs dig just because it’s entertaining. Your dog might find rocks in the dirt. They might also dig at tree roots because the roots have a different texture. It might not be very entertaining for you, but digging can be a fun experience for your dog.

Stress Digging

It might look like dogs have a cushy life, but they can get stressed out too. If they spend too much time alone or in a crate, they can start feeling a lot of stress. They can also get stressed out if there are other dogs in the household bothering them. Your dog may begin digging holes to help deal with the stress they are feeling.


Some dogs need lots of stimulation, and when faced with boredom in an enclosed space, they may attempt to escape! Some breeds are notorious escape artists – we’re looking at you, Terriers. Another reason dogs may try to escape because they smell a female in heat. Male dogs can smell another female from upwards of five miles away!


If a dog smells something interesting, they’ll work hard to get at it, even if it’s underground. Dogs often dig if they are seeking an animal or object that smells enticing. There are many dogs bred just for this purpose. For example, Terriers were bred to dig out rats and other rodents. So, they make great escape artists and seekers.


Dogs that spend lots of time outside get hot. Digging a hole is one way they cope. When they dig, they expose cool earth or sand. Then, dogs like to lay in the hole they dug to feel cooler. It’s a great coping mechanism to prevent overheating.

How to Help a Dog Stop Digging

The right way to fix your dog’s digging depends on the reason they dig. If you suspect your dog is digging because they are bored, try this:

  • Get them more toys and more challenging toys. Puzzle toys can help work your pup’s busy mind.
  • Take your dog on at least two walks a day. Getting them tired outside your home will help them relax at home.
  • Teach your dog commands. Getting them to exercise their body and mind can help with extra energy.

If your dog is anxious or sick, you can try giving them a bit more security. Give them more quality time with you. You can even set them up with a comfortable outdoor dog house that helps your dog feel more secure.

Another thing to try for any digging dog is to set up a dig zone. This is an area that you designate as the “right” place for your dog to dig. Cover up your dog’s old digging spots with rocks or chicken wire and offer them an area of their own. You can even consider using a child’s sandbox and fill it with exciting textures and toys. Also, praise your dog when they use this area.

A dog that won’t stop digging can be a problem, but there are many ways you can deal with it. Listen to your dog, and you’ll be able to help them turn around this problem behavior.


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