Why Dogs Dig And Bury Stuff


It’s a very common canine behaviour. But why do dogs dig and bury stuff and should you be concerned? Holidays4Dogs digs for clues!

Why Dogs Dig.

Some dogs, dig in places where you wouldn’t expect, such as a carpeted floor. They may do this as a means to try and ‘kill’ something – this could be an insect perhaps, or something like a shadow.stay with Holidays4Dogs Spaniels, for example, are renowned for shadow chasing. The movement of shadows across the ground encourages some dogs to ‘pounce’ and dig. Rather like they would do in the natural environment with prey.

Digging can also be a displaced activity and sometimes seen in nervous, or anxious dogs. If a dog cannot perform one activity, he may show his frustration by doing another.

Some dogs will scratch at the ground in an exaggerated form of play bowing – particularly if there is another dog they want to play with who is not interested. Some dogs will scratch and also bite at the ground in excitement.

Other dogs dig the ground in an attempt to escape confines – if they are trying to get under a barrier for example. This behaviour can be seen outdoors around fences, or indoors where internal doors are closed. Some dogs may dig because they are just plain bored, but for the most part, dogs just love to dig. It’s in their genes.

When dogs engage in this behaviour, they are following their ancient instincts to bury excess food and hide it from scavengers. By burying food in the soil it keeps better than it would do if it were left out in the sunlight. It also ensures that other animals can’t smell the meat and steal it.

Long before dogs were domesticated, they had to hunt for food. Hunting takes up a great deal of energy, so hiding left over meat would help the dogs through lean periods or, after an unsuccessful hunt. Wolves and foxes display similar behaviour known as, ‘caching’

My dog doesn’t want for anything, so why is he burying items?

If your dog buries many items a lot of the time, it might be he is getting too much food. Burying may indicate he is not feeling hungry and is trying to save his treats for later. By burying things, a dog keeps his, or her, resources safe.

Domesticated pet dogs no longer have the task of finding their own food. However, the instinct to bury things is still very strong in many of our pooches. The items buried could be anything from your best leather shoe, to their favourite toy.

Sometimes, dogs with a shy nature may bury their food because they prefer to eat alone or, because they sense signs of danger. It is often seen in pet dogs suffering from anxiety and can lead to ‘resource guarding‘.

Certain breeds are often more inclined to bury things than others. Hunting dogs and terriers, for example, are typical candidates, but it really depends on your dog’s individual personality and environmental factors.

Is digging and burying things harmful to my dog?

Burying things is a natural behaviour for dogs and it isn’t really harmful. However, if the dog is digging frequently, this can result in sore paws. In addition, if the dog is possessive over the areas he has buried items, this also could be cause for concern. If you have worries that your dog is displaying these behaviours excessively – do have a word with your vet.


It is important not to scold your dog for digging because, remember, this is a natural behaviour. If your dog is an avid digger, you could provide your dog with enriching toys to keep him distracted and occupied. Alternatively, you could build your dog his very own digging pit.