Digging Dogs


My favorite book as a small child was “The Digging – est Dog” by Al Perkins. To this day I can recite pages of it. Little did I know how much the romantic children’s storybook would become relevant in my adult life and dog training career!

Why is My Labrador Digging?

Digging is a behavioral issue we encounter all the time. I have found 2 main causes for it:

  • A bored dog.
  • Innate instinct.

Dogs will often dig out of boredom. What can begin as a futile attempt to catch a rodent in the earth can turn into an incredibly gratifying game of digging just for fun! The key here is to make sure your dog has enough mental and physical stimulation. Daily walks are vitally important for a change of scenery, mental stimulation and exercise. Walks should be brisk, with not stopping to sniff and should be a minimum of 30 minutes. Give your dog ample edible chew bones such as bully sticks, compressed rawhides, beef cheeks, tendons and cow hooves. Rotate these out daily and pick them up the minute your dog looses interest. Be careful not to give your dog too much ‘free time’ outside where he can rehearse the digging behavior.

It's a Lab Thing Labrador Digging

If all the above do not satisfy your dogs urge to dig, you may possibly be dealing with an innate instinct to dig. Many terriers have a strong instinct to dig for rodents. It’s a breed specific trait that has been bred into them to perform their job. In cases like this, trying to stop digging is like pushing a boulder up a hill! Think of how hard it would be to train a border collie not to herd when he had 4 sheep living in his back yard! Yikes! In these cases, I suggest creating an approved ‘Dig Area.’ Pick a far corner of the yard behind a few shrubs. Loosen up the soil just a little and push treats down into the soil. Let your digging-est dog out and excitedly show then the area. Praise them when they start to dig for treats! Every few days, replenish the treats.

Jabula vip It's a Lab Thing Dog Training


Kate Jackson-Jabula-dog-training-It's a Lab Thing

[boxparagraph]Kate Jackson, one of JabulaVIP trainers, believes “a Jabula dog is a happy dog!!” The owner and founding member of Jabula Dog Academy in Decatur, Georgia, Kate uses her daily interaction with dogs of all types and temperaments to fine-tune effective training techniques as well as explore and apply new approaches and philosophies in the field. Nothing compares to the hands-on, applicable experience on the other side of the leash that Kate Jackson brings.[/boxparagraph]

4 Responses

  1. Vicky

    Despite plenty of diversions, both my lab mixes (owned at separate times) dug until they were about 2 years old. I was convinced a broken ankle during lawn mowing was in my future, and my yard resembled a minefield – LOL. One day, the digging suddenly just stopped, I filled all the holes with topsoil, and that was the end of it. If my sweet girls could be with me forever, I’d gladly take a yard full of never-ending holes.

  2. Chris

    My 16 month old chocolate Lab Mo digs in spurts. .he’ ll go for a while and dig, dig dig! He must smell something because he all of a sudden puts his nose right to the ground and then he’s off! I too worry about a broken ankle! I tell my almost 3 yr. old grandson to “watch for holes” as he runs with Mo in the back yard. Mo is our fourth Lab and I think they all dug at some point. Love them to pieces though! 🙂

  3. Maureen Schooley

    No one really knows why dogs dig up your real estate. Ethologists speculate it’s an adolescent behavior and always has an end benefit. If it’s a hot day, the dog digs, then lies in the hole, perhaps it was to cool off. Have you ever seen a dog dig frantically and then flop in the hole exhausted? Mission accomplished! According to Dr. Roger Abrantes, an ethologist, whose program “Home Alone” targets dogs digging in the house because of separation anxiety.

  4. Krista

    My boy just started digging…on the carpet..in the house! And he turned 7 in August….any ideas why? This is not the nesting, turning around and laying down. This is trying to dig. And it’s not just in one spot either…argh!!!!!