German Shepherds are known for their intelligence and loyalty. They make great companions as they can be trained to do various tasks, from guarding your property to being an emotional support animal. But there is one behavior that could be concerning if left unchecked: digging.
So, do German Shepherds dig? The answer is yes; however, it's important to understand why they might do this and how you can prevent it or stop it if the behavior has already become established. In this article, we'll talk about this behavior, why it is good or bad, and how to stop it so you can have a happy and healthy relationship with your beloved dog!
So, do German Shepherds dig? Yes, and here is why!
German Shepherds may dig for a variety of reasons. Common causes include boredom, seeking attention, and instinctual behavior such as burying objects or digging for prey. Additionally, some German Shepherds may dig to escape from their environment or because they are suffering from anxiety or stress.
Boredom is often cited as one of the main reasons why German Shepherds dig. If your dog is not given enough mental and physical stimulation, it may try to find an outlet for its energy by digging holes in your backyard or destroying furniture inside the house.
Another reason a German Shepherd might be prone to digging is that they seek attention from their owners. If your dog does not receive enough attention, it may resort to behavior such as digging to get your attention.
But does digging holes have some special meaning, or is it's simple as that?
Instinctually, German Shepherds may dig holes out of a natural urge to bury objects or search for prey underground. Also, they may dig to escape from their environment or because they are suffering from anxiety or stress.
There is no secret behind this behavior, it's simple as that!
But should you allow your German Shepherd behavior such as this?
Is digging healthy or bad for your German Shepherd?
What are the other reasons why German Shepherds dig holes?
We have so many questions to cover, so let's waste no more time and start "digging" deep into this topic!
Are German Shepherd's diggers?
Yes, German Shepherds are natural diggers. This behavior is instinctual to them, as it served a purpose for their ancestors in the wild. Historically, digging served as a means to find small animals and insects to eat, cool off in the summer heat, and even create dens for their offspring or themselves.
Digging has become an ingrained behavior in German Shepherds, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily bad. Digging can benefit your dog if done in moderation and with proper supervision from the owner.
If left unchecked, however, digging can become a destructive habit that can cause damage to your lawn or even your home. To prevent this from happening, it is important to understand why your German Shepherd might be digging and how to curb the behavior.
Why do German Shepherds dig holes (10 reasons)
So, if you wonder what the secret reasons behind this behavior are, then you come to the right place because we have prepared for you the top 10 most common reason why German Shepherds dogs have a tendency to dig holes!
Reasons why German Shepherds dig holes:
1. To look for small animals or insects to eat
2. To cool off in the summer heat
3. To create dens for their offspring or themselves
4. Out of boredom or lack of stimulation
5. Seeking attention from their owner
6. Instinctually burying objects
7. Escaping from their environment
8. Anxiety or stress relief
9. Digging out roots, bugs, and other materials underground
10. Searching for prey
Reason number 1: To look for small animals or insects to eat
Digging is an instinctual behavior for German Shepherds and was used by their ancestors centuries ago. This behavior allowed them to search underground for small animals or insects that could be eaten as food.
This may sound gross, but their ancestors didn't have access to food like our dogs today. Instead, they had to spend several hours a day hunting prey, and during hunting, they often made ambushes, hunted in packs, and dug to catch prey.
This behavior has been left in their genes and has passed to other generations.
Reason number 2: To cool off in the summer heat
German Shepherds may dig to cool off in the summer heat. The ground is often cooler than the air, and digging a shallow hole provides relief from the sweltering temperatures.
If you’ve ever seen your German Shepherd digging a hole and lying down in it, this could be why. They are simply trying to get relief from the heat and don’t necessarily plan on staying there.
The ground can be significantly cooler than the air in the summer, making it pleasant to lie down in a hole. The ground acts as an insulator, and heat dissipates more slowly through it than through air.
During the day, the soil absorbs some of the sun's energy, while night-time temperatures are generally cooler due to the lack of sunlight. By digging a hole, your German Shepherd can access cooler ground and enjoy a brief respite from the heat.
Reason number 3: To create dens for their offspring or themselves
In the wild, dogs have been known to dig holes to create a safe den for their offspring. This is a natural way for them to protect their pups and ensure they have a safe place to sleep.
Even domestic German Shepherds may be instinctually driven to dig for this purpose, although the need is generally not as strong. They may still find comfort in creating a den-like structure with their digging.
Reason number 4: Out of boredom or lack of stimulation
German Shepherds can become bored like any other pet if their environment lacks stimulation. German Shepherds are high-energy dogs, and you need to walk and exercise with them regularly. Digging provides a form of entertainment for them and helps to keep their minds active.
It is best to provide your German Shepherds with plenty of durable toys and activities to keep them from becoming bored and being tempted to dig holes out of boredom.
German Shepherds need plenty of exercise and stimulation to be healthy and happy. On average, they should spend at least two hours a day playing and walking. However, the exact amount of exercise required will depend on your dog’s age, size, breed, and activity level.
Reason number 5: Seeking attention from their owner
German Shepherds are very social animals and crave attention from their owners. When they don’t get enough of it, they may try to find a way to get their owner's attention, digging holes is one of them.
If your German Shepherd starts to dig for no apparent reason, and you believe it might be seeking attention, then spending more quality time with them is best.
Take them out for walks, play games together, and show affection when they behave well. This will help your German Shepherd feel more connected to you and reduce their need for attention-seeking behaviors such as digging.
Finding ways to provide mental stimulation for your German Shepherd is also important. Try to tire them out with interactive toys, puzzles, and training sessions to help reduce their urge to dig.
Reason number 6: Instinctually burying objects
German Shepherds may be instinctually driven to bury objects like bones or toys. In the wild, dogs often bury food and other items for safekeeping. This behavior is still seen in domesticated German Shepherds today.
You can’t necessarily train them out of this, but it does help provide them with plenty of toys and activities. If they feel they have enough items, this may reduce their urge to bury objects.
Removing potentially hazardous items from your backyard is important, so your German Shepherd doesn’t try to bury them out of instinct.
Reason number 7: Escaping from their environment
Sometimes, German Shepherds may dig to escape from their environment. This is usually seen in dogs that feel trapped or are unhappy with their living conditions.
If your German Shepherd spends most of its time out in the yard without interacting with you or other animals, it could try to dig its way out to escape its environment.
Providing your German Shepherd with plenty of ways to socialize and explore is always important for their well-being. If you cannot take them on regular trips outside, playing with them in the yard can help keep them engaged and reduce their urge to dig.
Reason number 8: Anxiety or stress relief
German Shepherds may also dig because of anxiety or stress. This can be caused by various things, such as separation anxiety, fear, boredom, and unfamiliar environments.
If you think your German Shepherd is digging due to an underlying issue like this, it is important to consult with your veterinarian and/or professional dog trainer.
In situations like this, the best treatment is to address the underlying cause of the stress or anxiety and provide them with plenty of activities and exercise to help reduce their urge to dig.
Reason number 9: Digging out roots, bugs, and other materials underground
German Shepherds may be motivated to dig out roots, bugs, and other materials underground. This is usually seen when they search for food or are bored with their environment.
In this case, providing them with plenty of toys and activities to occupy their time while keeping potentially hazardous items away from your backyard is important.
You could also try burying treats in the yard to divert their attention from digging out roots and bugs. This can help keep them engaged and provide positive reinforcement for playing in the dirt instead of digging holes.
Reason number 10: Searching for prey
German Shepherds may also dig because they are searching for prey. If your dog has a strong hunting instinct and you live near wildlife, it could be attempting to find small animals like mice or squirrels in your yard.
In this case, providing them with plenty of activities and mental stimulation is important to help reduce their urge to dig.
Taking them for regular walks and introducing them to new environments can also help discourage this behavior.
How to stop my German Shepherd from digging holes?
Now that we know the most common reasons why German Shepherds dig holes, it's time to see how you can teach your GSD to stop digging holes at all or teach them to dig only in the "dig area", which we highly recommend.
1. Discourage the digging: When you catch your German Shepherd in the act of digging, scold them and discourage them from continuing this behavior.
When scolding your German Shepherd for digging, it is important to be consistent and firm. Encourage them to focus on a different activity or task by providing positive reinforcement such as treats or toys.
You can also use distraction techniques such as teaching them to sit or stay when they start to dig. If possible, create a designated area
2. Give Them Different Toys: If your German Shepherd likes to always berries his favorite toy, maybe you should buy a different toy for your GSD and see what will happen.
When buying different toys for your German Shepherd, there are a few things to remember. For starters, ensure the toy is well-suited for their size and breed - selecting a toy that's too small or large can make it uncomfortable for them or may even be dangerous if they try to swallow it.
Additionally, look for durable toys that don't look like a bone because German Shepherds often bury toys that look like a bone or a stick.
3. Exercise Regularly: Take your German Shepherd for regular walks or runs to help tire them out and reduce their urge to dig.
Regular exercise for your German Shepherd is essential to keeping them physically and mentally healthy. Taking them on a walk or run every day will help keep their body in shape and can tire them out, reducing digging behavior.
Physical activity provides mental stimulation and releases endorphins that boost mood and promote positive bonding between pet and owner. If you cannot take them out for a walk or run, try playing games like fetch or tug of war in the yard or indoors.
4. Supervise Outdoor Time: Whenever they’re outside, make sure you are supervising them so that you can stop any potential digging before it starts.
One of the most important things to remember when trying to stop a German Shepherd from digging is always to provide plenty of stimulation and keep them occupied.
This means providing them plenty of activities and mental stimulation, such as training exercises, puzzle toys, new environments, and engaging games.
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5. Use Repellents or Deterrents: You could also use natural repellents like citrus oils or cayenne pepper powder around areas where your dog might dig to dissuade them from doing it again in that spot.
Repellents and deterrents can effectively prevent your dog from digging up your garden or yard. Citrus oils, such as lemon or orange oil, can be sprayed onto the soil and help create an unpleasant scent for dogs.
But before trying this method, try first to train your dog to stop digging. Use repellents or deterrents only in small amounts.
6. Create a Digging Area: Create an area specifically designated for your German Shepherd's digging habits by burying items like bones and toys there, so they know this is where they should be digging instead of elsewhere on the property!
Dogs are dogs, and they should stay dogs. Digging is a natural behavior for dogs, and if you have enough space in your yard, we highly recommend you create a digging area for your German Shepherd.
7. Train Your Dog: Professional obedience training can help correct bad behaviors such as excessive digging.
Start by teaching your German Shepherd the “leave it” command. This will help them to understand that digging is not allowed and that they should stop when you give the command.
You can also use positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise, to reward them for good behavior.
Obedience training can take some time, but it will be worth it in the long run, as your German Shepherd will understand that digging is unacceptable.
8. Make sure your dog can stay out of the sun in the shade: This will reduce their urge to dig and cool them off.
German Shepherds are bred to work in hot and cold climates but don't generally do well in extreme temperatures. In hot weather, German Shepherds can become overheated quickly and suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Ensure your German Shepherd always has access to fresh drinking water and shade.
Suggestion: How to Keep German Shepherd cool in summer
How can digging be beneficial for your German Shepherd?
Digging can be beneficial for German Shepherds in a variety of ways. It helps them to release excess energy, exercise their muscles and joints, and stay mentally stimulated. Additionally, digging is a natural behavior that can help your dog to stay happy and healthy.
Digging is an important way for dogs to explore their environment and can even help them find food, water, or a cooler spot when they feel too warm. It also gives your dog an outlet for its instincts and can be a great form of exercise.
Finally, it can be a great way for you and your German Shepherd to bond since playing together in the yard is always fun!
Is it healthy for German Shepherds to dig holes?
Yes, digging can be healthy for German Shepherds. Not only does it provide an outlet for energy and instinctive behaviors, but it also provides mental stimulation and helps to keep them physically active.
Digging also helps with muscle and joint development and improves coordination. Digging should be encouraged in moderation, so your German Shepherd stays healthy and happy!
German Shepherd tearing up the yard
If your German Shepherd is tearing up the yard, there are a few things you can do. First, ensure they have plenty of toys and other activities that keep them stimulated. Exercise your dog frequently and provide them with plenty of mental stimulation through puzzle toys or training sessions.
Here are some of the ways to stop your German Shepherd from tearing up the yard:
1. Provide plenty of toys and activities to keep your dog stimulated.
2. Exercise your dog frequently and provide mental stimulation with puzzle toys or training sessions.
3. Determine the cause of the digging, such as boredom or anxiety.
4. Create a designated digging area in the yard where they can safely explore the ground without tearing it up or damaging plants and shrubs.
5. Use deterrent methods to discourage unwanted behavior when necessary
Never punish your dog if you're struggling and can't find a solution. Instead, ask a professional dog trainer or veterinarian for help. They will be able to advise you on how to address the issue best and keep your German Shepherd happy and healthy.
German Shepherds are incredibly intelligent and loyal companions but can exhibit various behaviors that may seem strange to us.
Digging may not be funny for us, but for them, it can be one of the most interesting activities (when they do it in moderation).
If your German Shepherd loves to dig, we encourage you to create a digging area for your German Shepherd, if you can, instead of teaching them not to dig. Your GSD will be thankful for that!
If you think something more serious might happen, don't hesitate to contact your veterinarian or certified dog trainer for help. With patience and understanding, these behaviors will become less frequent as you learn how to meet their needs better!
Frequently asked questions
Do you still have questions? Check our FAQ section, and you can find your answer here!
❓Do German Shepherds dig holes of anxiety?
Yes, German Shepherds can dig holes due to anxiety. When a dog is anxious or stressed, digging can be an outlet for releasing its built-up energy. This behavior can be caused by loud noises, unfamiliar people or animals, traumatic events, and environmental changes.
In particular, digging can signify separation anxiety in German Shepherds if they are left alone for extended periods. If you believe your dog is experiencing anxiety, speak to your veterinarian or a professional trainer for advice on how to help them.
Signs of anxiety in dogs may include panting, pacing, trembling or shaking, whining or barking excessively, digging, drooling, elimination in the house, hiding, and/or attempts at escape. Dogs may also show signs of aggression, such as growling or snapping.
If you notice that your dog’s behavior has changed significantly and they are exhibiting any signs of anxiety, it is important to seek professional advice from a veterinarian or a certified dog trainer as soon as possible.
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❓Do German Shepherds dig when excited?
Yes, German Shepherds can dig when excited. Digging is a natural behavior and can be triggered by various stimuli. This could include the presence of other animals or people, loud noises, or an exciting event like a walk or playtime.
If your dog is digging out of excitement, it’s important to provide them with appropriate outlets for their energy, such as toys and activities that stimulate their minds.
If digging becomes a problem, you can also create a designated digging area in the yard or use deterrent methods to discourage unwanted behavior.
Do you wonder who you know when your German Shepherd is excited? Here are the most common signs that your GSD is excited!
1. Excitable barking or whining
2. Tail wagging
3. Jumping up
4. Pacing around
5. Playful biting and chewing
6. Ears perked up forward
7. Increased energy levels
8. Tilted head and eyes wide open
❓Do German Shepherds dig when they’re scared?
Unfortunately, yes, German Shepherds can dig when they are scared. Digging can be a way for them to try and escape whatever is scaring them, or it may serve as an outlet for their built-up anxiety.
If your dog is digging out of fear, it’s important to identify what is causing it and look for ways to reduce it. Speak to your veterinarian or a certified professional trainer for advice on how to help your dog cope with their fears.
Signs of fear in German Shepherds include cowering, tail tucking, panting, trembling/shaking, hiding, and/or attempts at escape.
❓Why do German Shepherds whine?
German Shepherds can whine for various reasons, including anxiety, boredom, hunger, or pain. Anxious whining is usually accompanied by other signs of distress, such as panting, tail tucking, trembling/shaking, and/or hiding.
If you believe your dog is in pain or discomfort due to an injury or illness, speak to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
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❓Why does my German Shepherd roll in the dirt?
German Shepherds can roll in the dirt for a variety of reasons. It could be due to curiosity, trying to eliminate unwanted smells or parasites, wanting attention, or attempting to cool off on a hot day.
Rolling around in the dirt is also often seen as an exploratory behavior when sniffing out new smells or looking for something interesting.