Why Some Dogs are Prone to Digging Up and Destroying Gardens

Dogs are known for their playful and curious nature, but sometimes their natural instincts can lead to destructive behavior. One common issue that many dog owners face is their pet’s tendency to dig up or destroy gardens. While digging is a natural behavior for dogs, certain breeds have a higher tendency to engage in this activity than others.

There are several reasons why dogs may be inclined to dig up gardens. Some breeds, such as terriers and hounds, were originally bred for hunting and have a strong prey drive. This drive can translate into a desire to dig and explore their surroundings. Other dogs may dig as a way to cool down on hot days or to create a comfortable spot to rest. In some cases, dogs may dig out of boredom, anxiety, or frustration.

If you’re a dog owner who loves gardening, you may be wondering why your furry friend keeps ruining your hard work. Understanding the reasons behind your dog’s behavior can help you take steps to prevent it. In this article, we’ll explore why some dogs have a higher tendency to dig up or destroy gardens and what you can do to stop them from doing so.

Instinctual Behaviors

One reason why dogs tend to dig up or destroy gardens is due to their instinctual behaviors. Dogs are natural hunters and diggers, and they have a strong desire to explore their surroundings. This behavior is especially common in breeds that were originally bred for hunting or digging, such as Terriers, Dachshunds, and Beagles. These dogs have a high prey drive and are more likely to dig up gardens in search of prey or other interesting scents.

Another instinctual behavior that can lead to destructive digging is the desire to create a comfortable resting spot. Dogs may dig holes in the ground to create a cool, shaded area to rest in on a hot day, or to create a cozy den-like space to sleep in. This behavior is more common in breeds that were originally bred for digging, such as the Dachshund and the Jack Russell Terrier.

Additionally, some dogs may dig up gardens as a way to alleviate stress or anxiety. Digging can be a calming activity for dogs, and it may help them to release pent-up energy or frustration. This behavior is more common in dogs that are left alone for long periods of time or that have not been properly trained or socialized.

Boredom and Lack of Exercise

Dogs are active animals that require a lot of physical and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. When they don’t get enough exercise or feel bored, they may resort to digging up or destroying gardens as a way to alleviate their boredom or pent-up energy.

Some dogs may be more prone to destructive behavior due to their breed or personality traits. For example, terriers are known for their digging abilities, while high-energy breeds like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds may become destructive if they don’t have enough outlets for their energy.

It’s important to provide your dog with enough exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behavior. Taking your dog for daily walks, playing fetch, and engaging in training sessions are all great ways to keep your dog active and mentally stimulated.

Additionally, providing your dog with toys and puzzles can help keep them entertained and prevent destructive behavior. Puzzle toys, like treat-dispensing balls, can keep your dog occupied for hours and provide mental stimulation.

If you have a garden or yard, consider creating a designated area where your dog can dig and play safely. This can help redirect their digging behavior and prevent them from destroying other areas of your yard.

Territorial Marking

One of the main reasons why dogs dig up or destroy gardens is to mark their territory. Dogs have a natural instinct to mark their territory by urinating or defecating in specific areas. This is a way for them to communicate with other dogs and animals in the area, letting them know that this is their territory.

However, some dogs may take this behavior to the extreme by digging up or destroying gardens. This can be especially problematic for owners who have spent a lot of time and money on their landscaping.

If your dog is exhibiting this behavior, it is important to identify the underlying cause. It could be that your dog is feeling anxious or stressed, or it could simply be a way for them to assert their dominance in the area.

To prevent your dog from digging up or destroying your garden, you can try the following:

  • Provide your dog with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Designate a specific area in your yard where your dog is allowed to dig.
  • Use barriers such as fencing or rocks to prevent your dog from accessing certain areas of your garden.
  • Consider using natural deterrents such as citrus or vinegar to discourage your dog from digging or marking in certain areas.

By understanding the reasons behind your dog’s behavior and taking steps to prevent it, you can help protect your garden while keeping your dog happy and healthy.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is a common issue among dogs that can lead to destructive behavior. Dogs that suffer from separation anxiety may dig up gardens or destroy other items in the home when left alone. This behavior is often caused by the dog’s fear of being separated from their owner or family.

Some common signs of separation anxiety in dogs include excessive barking, destructive behavior, and attempts to escape from the home. Dogs with separation anxiety may also refuse to eat or drink while their owners are away and may become overly excited when their owners return.

If you suspect that your dog has separation anxiety, it is important to address the issue as soon as possible. There are several things that you can do to help your dog feel more comfortable when left alone. These include:

  • Gradually increasing the amount of time that your dog is left alone
  • Providing your dog with plenty of exercise and mental stimulation
  • Leaving your dog with a special toy or treat to keep them occupied while you are away
  • Using a crate or other safe confinement area to help your dog feel more secure

If your dog’s separation anxiety is severe, you may need to seek the help of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can work with you and your dog to develop a customized treatment plan that addresses your dog’s specific needs.

Training and Prevention

If your dog has a high tendency to dig up or destroy gardens, there are several training and prevention methods that can help curb this behavior.

1. Provide an alternative digging area: Some dogs simply love to dig. By providing a designated area for digging, such as a sandbox or a specific corner of the yard, you can redirect their digging behavior to an appropriate location.

2. Increase exercise and mental stimulation: Dogs that are bored or have excess energy may turn to digging as a way to entertain themselves. Increasing daily exercise and providing mental stimulation, such as puzzle toys or training sessions, can help prevent destructive behavior.

3. Use positive reinforcement training: Reward your dog for good behavior, such as not digging in the garden, with praise and treats. Avoid punishing your dog for bad behavior, as this can lead to anxiety and further destructive behavior.

4. Limit access to the garden: If all else fails, limiting your dog’s access to the garden may be necessary. This can be done through fencing off the area or using barriers such as rocks or plants to block off the garden from your dog’s reach.

Remember, training and prevention methods take time and consistency to be effective. Be patient and persistent in your efforts to redirect your dog’s behavior and prevent further destruction to your garden.


After researching and analyzing various sources, it is clear that dogs have an innate tendency to dig up and destroy gardens. This behavior can be attributed to their natural instincts, such as hunting and territorial marking, as well as boredom and lack of exercise.

While some breeds may have a higher tendency to dig up or destroy gardens, it is important to note that individual dogs may vary in their behavior. Furthermore, environmental factors such as the size of the yard, the availability of toys and activities, and the level of training and discipline can also play a significant role in a dog’s behavior.

Therefore, it is crucial for dog owners to understand their pet’s behavior and take appropriate measures to prevent garden destruction. This can include providing sufficient exercise and mental stimulation, fencing off garden areas, and training the dog to redirect their digging behavior to appropriate areas.

Ultimately, with proper understanding and management, dogs and gardens can coexist peacefully and happily.

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