Search Menu

AKC GoodDog! Helpline trainer Christie Canfield identifies the profiles of diggers and offers solutions for whatever type digger inhabits your yard.

Do you wonder if your dog is trying to dig to China?
Are there holes where your rose bushes should be?
There are a variety of reasons why a dog chooses to dig.  To get to the root of the problem, you first have to know why your dog is digging.

The Escape Artist

If your dog is a canine Houdini, always supervise your dog when he is outside.  You can also take preventative measures to discourage digging around your fence line, such as double reinforcing your fence and burying your fence a couple of feet into the ground so your dog cannot get under.

Earth Dog Practice

Hunting for critters, real or imagined, can be a favorite pastime for your dog.  The best way of preventing this type of digging is simply to rid your yard of the vermin.

Hot in the Summer Time

Some dogs dig to cool off by digging a spot to lie on the cool earth.  Their coats protect them from both cold and heat, so when they want to cool, they do so via their underbelly.  It is perfectly natural for a dog to dig up an area so he can lie down in cool dirt.  If your dog spends a considerable amount of time outside, be sure there is plenty of shade and fresh water available.  He may still dig so you may want to limit your dog’s time outside on hot days.


When there is nothing else to do, dogs create their own mischief.  If your dog digs from lack of stimulation, do not leave your dog outside unsupervised and keep him busy when he is outside by playing ball, etc.  If your dog has one or two favorite spots to dig, you can put something down to discourage the activity, such as chicken wire, lava rocks or plastic sheeting over rocks. Your dog may decide the entire yard is the same and stop the activity.


Many dogs that dig do so because it is just plain ol’ fun for dogs to dig.  So give your dog a place to dig!  Create a sandbox, a place where he is allowed to dig so he can release the need for this instinct. You can use anything to make a boundary, from a kiddie pool to four boards nailed together.  The purpose is to set a specific visual boundary for your dog and also to hold in the sand or other filler for the box.  To create interest, go out and let the dog watch you bury a toy in the area, then help him dig it up.  Continue to occasionally hide treasures, like toys or treats for your dog to find, to keep his interest in digging to the acceptable area.

For more help and advice on training your dog, enroll in the AKC GoodDog! Helpline, a seven-day-a-week telephone training service staffed by experienced dog trainers. For information:
Get Your Free AKC eBook

Tips for Responsible Dog Owners

This e-book is a great resource for anyone who's considering dog ownership or already owns a dog. Download for tips on how to be the best dog owner you can be.
*Turn off pop-up blocker to download
*Turn off pop-up blocker to download