Why dogs dig holes and lay in them in the yard? The first time you spot this behavior you may become a little worried. But as we shall see in this article, digging is simply a natural behavior for dogs.
There are a host of reasons why dogs engage in this behavior such as seeking the most comfortable position, for entertainment and hiding food or something they want to keep away from animals.
At times, dogs may opt to lie in the hole after digging. This behavior is however influenced by the weather. For instance, in the summer, your dog may opt to lay in a hole after digging in order to enjoy the coolness of the soil while in the winter, he or she may be seeking a little warmth.
Nonetheless, if your dog’s behavior of digging holes and laying in them annoys you, we shall also look at some of the ways you can get stop this habit.
But first, let us look at some of the reasons why dogs dig holes in the yard.
8 Reasons Why Dogs Dig Holes in the Yard
1. Hiding their precious items or food
Dogs are from the predatory family; hence, they tend to hide bones from other dogs or anyone it believes might take it.
This happens not only with bones but also with other items they treasure such as their favorite toys.
2. Hunting for food
Some have experienced at times the dog may having detected some foreign movements in the ground caused by mice and other rodents or some dogs like to hunt wildlife as their nature is.
The dog also is missing some minerals in the diet you give them thus resort to digging up the yard to acquire them deep in the soil.
It may also be a classic case of a dog coming from a breed that instinctively likes to dig an example would the terrier breed.
3. To entertain themselves
Sometimes it may just be a classic case of how the dog is dealing with boredom when left alone for a long period of time.
Puppies are more prone to dig up the yard due to their burst of energy.
4. Seeking comfort
For some female dogs when they experience mating behavior change they do that.
In other instances, the female may begin this behavior when pregnant.
Some dogs may dig close to your fence due to natural attraction to another dog on the other side of the fence since he lacks company or just curiosity.
5. Cool or warm their body
In some instances, dogs dig the yard and lay in them to cool themselves when it is extremely hot and warm themselves when it is cold.
6. Protection of her puppies
A mother dog will dig holes so as to hide her little puppies from the imminent danger posed by other bigger dogs.
This is an animal motherly instinct she possesses that drives her to dig holes in the yard and keeping them in a secured location.
The dog may do so to keep her puppies together in a warm environment away from the cold.
7. Giving birth to puppies
When a dog is about to give birth to puppies it undergoes birth pangs and to ease these pains the dog will usually keep itself busy by digging holes.
This will keep itself distracted from the pangs it is undergoing hence one should be keen as this is one of the tale-tell signs of new guest puppies arrival.
Another reason may be the dog experiencing its “prison break moment” (when it wants to escape) from the yard due to some anxieties affecting its sanctuary.
So, why do dogs dig holes and lay in them in the yard in summer or winter?
As we already mentioned earlier, the desire for a dog to lie in a hole is driven by the need to keep warm in winter or stay cool in summer.
When it’s hot, the soil that the dog digs up from the ground is usually cooler than the soil on the surface. So after digging, he is likely to lie in the hole to enjoy the coolness in the hot summer. This also cools his body since unlike humans, dogs do not sweat everywhere.
Dogs only have sweat glands where there is no fur such as the nose and paw pads. This means that the rest of the body which is covered by a thick coat of fur cannot be cooled down by sweating.
Therefore, laying in a freshly dug hole gives cools their body.
On the other hand, when it’s very cold, the soil the dog digs up tends to be a little warmer than the soil on the surface. So, lying in the hole tends to give them a warm and cozy feeling.
Now, should you stop your dog from lying in the hole after digging? One of the reasons why you may opt to stop this behavior is if the digging is messing your landscaping design or making your house dirty.
Having your lawn covered in heaps on soils is definitely not a good thing. Similarly, having your house covered in soil from the couch to carpet is no fun too.
Let’s see how to stop a dog from digging holes in the backyard.
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How to Stop Your Dog from Digging Holes In Your Backyard
There is no single solution for dealing with your dog in discontinuing this behavior.
Thus, it is important to do a bit of investigation to find out why your dog is digging holes in the yard and laying in them.
Here are some suggestions to bring this behavior to a stop
Increase exercise and playtime
It is important to take your dog for a walk or to the dog park so as to allow him or her to exercise.
Take some time to play with your dog using toys that will make them participate actively and this will prevent boredom.
You can teach him new tricks and commands using the reward system when he masters your training.
Spend more playtime with your dog and giving him treats is likely to make him feel loved. As a result, he will enjoy spending time with you when bored rather than resorting to digging.
Designate a digging area in the backyard
You can provide a designated area zone where the dog can dig. This is achieved by training the dog to know where it is allowed to dig and where it is forbidden.
You may also pick a shovel and dig for him where it is acceptable to dig. If he goes somewhere else, be strict and stop him. This will help him understand that he can only dig in the designated zone and not anywhere else.
However, it is not appropriate to punish your dog for digging in an unwanted area; rather, show him the right zone and reward him for complying.
Alternatively, you can redirect him to another activity that may be of interest to him.
Add digging deterrents
You might decide to place chicken link wire at the base of your fence to bar the dog from digging and getting into the neighbor’s compound.
You can also use big rocks to block where the dog likes to dig or to cover the holes to discourage him from digging in the backyard.
Some dog owners also use slices of fruits such as lemons and oranges to deter the dog due to their pungent scents. This is more humane as opposed to using cayenne pepper dog repellent that causes irritation to the dog’s eyes as explained by American Kennel Club.
Moreover, mustard oil or alcohol can be sprayed where the dog likes to dig in order to deter him due to the unpleasant smell.
Help your dog cool down
Just like humans dogs too enjoy taking a nap in a cool bed on hot summertime.
You can assist your dog to cool down by purchasing a cooling crate pad or a dog a water sprinkler. The sprinkler creates a fountain of water that makes it enjoyable for the dog to play with especially on a hot day. In addition, it also ensures that the dog can access fresh cool water whenever he wants.
Get rid of rodents
Getting rid of rodents is another way to prevent your dog from digging in the yard. You can achieve this by laying traps in the backyard to capture the rodents. This will also offer protection to the dog in regards to his health since you will prevent him from eating disease-carrying rodents.
The right diet and regular veterinary visits
Serve a balanced meal in sufficient amounts so as to avoid the dog hiding or burying leftover foods in the yard for him to eat later.
You may opt to give him the vet recommended mineral pills if he is eating soil since it indicates a lack of certain vitamins in their diet. It is also important not to forget to take him for regular visits to the vet.
Regular nail trimming
To discourage the dog from digging, it is important to trim his nails at least once a month thus making it less comfortable to dig up the lawn.
This article has answered the question of why do dogs dig holes and lay in them in the yard. It has highlighted several reasons why the dig holes such as entertainment when bored, hunting, and hiding treasured items like toys among others. Nonetheless, the main reason why they lay in the holes after digging is to either cool their body in the hot summer or keep warm in winter.
This article has also provided possible measures one can take to remedy this behavior in dogs. Some of the practical steps include giving enough attention to your dog, providing a balanced diet and having enough playtime. One may also resort to training them on area zones where they can dig and where they should not dig. Most importantly, make the environment cool or warm when it is hot or cold respectively can help to ensure the dog is comfortable at home. Hope this article will be informative to pet enthusiasts so that you can experience abundant love and loyalty from man’s best friend.