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9 Reasons Why Australian Shepherds Dig + Tips To Stop It

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While you might let it slide when your australian shepherd digs as a puppy. When it becomes a habit they carry into their adult years, it’s a much bigger problem.

Why do australian shepherds dig in the first place? Is there something wrong?

Why Do Australian Shepherds Dig:

Unfortunately digging is an activity that many australian shepherds simply enjoy doing. Outside of the enjoyment of digging, what causes the behavior is often lack of physical and mental stimulation, a way for them to deal with their nervous energy or wanting to escape to chase something.

In this post you’ll discover:

  • 9 real reasons why australian shepherds dig
  • When your aussies digging becomes something to be concerned about
  • 6 tips to help stop your australian shepherd from wanting to dig (Tip #1 is the least known but most effective!)
  • And much more

Let’s jump right in.

Why do Australian Shepherds Dig

Top 9 Reasons Why Australian Shepherds Dig

1) Entertaining Themselves

If your australian shepherd is feeling particularly bored, they may dig simply to entertain themselves.

Many people often say that a bored doggo is a destructive doggo.

Not all the time, but it’s certainly true in some cases.

If you find that your aussie is asking to be let outside often, only to find them digging, they’re likely bored.

Our first tip below is perfect for dogs who dig out of boredom.

Related Reading: 9 Simple Steps To Create The Obedient Dog Of Your Dreams

2) Simple Pleasure

Another potential reason why your australian shepherd digs is because they simply enjoy it.

There’s something about the feeling of dirt on their paws that they just can’t resist.

It might be difficult to wrap your head around as digging a hole is probably one of the last things on your list of fun things to do.

But for your aussie, it might be one of their simple pleasures.

3) A Cry For Attention

In some cases, australian shepherds dig because they feel neglected and are looking for attention.

If you’ve been spending more time at work or away from home, your aussie may start to feel isolated.

This can lead to them acting out in destructive ways, such as digging holes.

Also, if every time you catch them digging, you give a big reaction, they’re more likely to continue to do it.

When you do this it unintentionally teaches them that digging is behavior that gets what they want from you.

Your attention.

Your australian shepherd is very smart, so if they see you interact with them after they dig, they’ll want to do it more for the attention they crave.

Related Reading: 10 Best Toys To Entertain Your Dog | Boredom Buster Toys

4) Hiding Something Valuable

Hiding something valuable is another potential reason for your aussie’s digging.

They may have found a treat or toy that they really like and want to keep it hidden from you or another furry family member.

By burying it, they think it will be safe from being taken away.

If you find that your aussie is constantly hiding and digging up their toys or treats, this may be the reason why.

This behavior is instinctual for them because of their wolf ancestors.

Wolves will bury their valuables to prevent them from being stolen.

So if your aussie usually has a toy beside them as they dig, it could be that they’re trying to make sure it doesn’t get taken away from them.

Related Reading: 12 Weird Things Australian Shepherds Do (Fully Explained!)

5) It’s An Outlet For Their Energy

If your australian shepherd has a lot of energy, they may start to dig as an outlet for it.

Unfortunately your aussie likely doesn’t have any productive uses for their excess energy.

So they look for any outlet available to them.

And unfortunately, your pup might have found that digging is a great way for them to burn off some steam.

If this is the case for your aussie, thankfully, it’s actually a pretty simple fix.

Which we’ll get into later.

Related Reading: Are Australian Shepherds High Maintenance? (Explained!)

6) Helps Them Cool Down

Your aussie doesn’t have the ability to cool themselves down as easily as people do.

They’re only able to sweat through their nose, mouth and through their paws.

Pair that with having a permanent thick, furry coat and you have one hot doggo.

How this relates to digging is because of the cool soil underneath the surface.

When your australian shepherd digs on a hot summer’s day, they’re trying to touch the much cooler soil underneath.

And when they touch their paws on the cooler ground, or lie in their dug hole, it helps cool them off.

All the more reason to make sure your pup has plenty of water and access to shade when in the warm summer months.

7) Trying To Find Something

Your aussie has a far better sense of smell and ability to hear than you and I.

Which means they might hear a rodent or little critter underground in your backyard that’s making them want to dig.

They can’t see it, but they’re certain something is roaming around underneath them.

So they dig to get to the sound they hear or the scent they smell.

Or, they previously hid one of their favorite toys and are looking for it again.

While they may find hiding a valuable toy important, their memory of where they put it is a whole other story.

8) Trying To Escape

If your australian shepherd has a spot in your backyard where they can see over the fence, but can’t get out, they may dig to try and escape.

Whatever outside your fence is really grabbing their attention and they’re doing whatever they can to go out and chase or play with what they see.

It could also be that a squirrel, chipmunk or cat is roaming on the top of your fence and when they jump to the other side, your aussie wants to chase after them.

Any time your pup is able to see something on the other side of your fence there’s a possibility that they’re digging to interact with what they see.

9) Nervous Energy

Just like some people pace when they’re nervous, your aussie may dig when feeling anxious.

If there’s something that’s stressing them out, they may start to dig as a way to release some of that tension.

This could be due to changes in their routine, having company over, or even just being left alone outside for too long.

There’s really only two major reasons for this.

One, it provides them with a distraction so they stop focusing on what’s making them so anxious.

Or two, it helps them burn off some steam so they’re too tired to be anxious and it allows them to rest.

Related Reading: Australian Shepherd Anxiety: Symptoms, Causes & Solutions

6 Tips To Help Stop Your Australian Shepherd From Digging

1) Use Their Instincts Against Them

Whether your australian shepherd is digging because of instincts or boredom, we can use some of their other instincts to help stop them from digging!

The instincts I’m talking about are their desire to keep places they consider theirs, clean.

So how we use this desire to stop them from digging is quite simple.

When you see your aussie digging another hole, or if they still have a hole that hasn’t been filled in yet.

Take some of their poop, put it in their hole and cover it up with dirt.

Next time they go to dig in this place, they’ll find their poop and be almost disgusted with themselves.

Which will stop them from digging in this place.

Now, this may not cure their digging on the first try.

But if they start digging in another place, simply do the same thing with their new digging spot.

Eventually they’ll completely lose interest in digging when they find enough of their own poop in every place they go to dig.

I know it might sound crazy, but it works!

2) More Challenging Toys

Even if you currently give your aussie puzzle toys, they may need more of a challenge.

If your pup has figured out how their current toys work and there’s no challenge to solving them anymore, they’ll become bored of them.

Which is why you might need to level up the difficulty on the puzzle toys you give your pup.

Or instead of more challenging toys, you could train them more complicated tricks/behaviors.

This will help tire your australian shepherd out mentally which should help reduce or even stop their desire to dig.

Related Reading: 13 Best Mind Stimulating Dog Toys: Features & Benefits

3) More Exercise

If your aussie isn’t getting enough exercise, they may start to dig as a way to burn off some extra energy.

This is especially true for younger australian shepherds who have seemingly boundless energy.

So make sure you’re giving your pup enough opportunities to run around and play.

Whether that’s going on long hikes/walks, playing fetch or even letting them run around at the park/dog park.

Doing this should help reduce their desire to dig as they won’t have as much energy to burn off.

A tired doggo is a well behaved doggo.

Related Reading: 12 Best Harnesses for Australian Shepherds

4) Try To Find Their Trigger

There’s always a trigger that causes your australian shepherd to start digging.

Whether it’s boredom, anxiety or something else entirely.

If you can find out what’s causing your pup to dig, you’ll be one step closer to stopping them from doing it.

So take some time to observe your aussie and see if you can figure out what makes them start digging.

Once you know their trigger, you’ll be able to come up with a solution that specifically targets this problem.

Which should help reduce or even completely stop their desire to dig.

5) Don’t Give a Big Reaction

Whenever your australian shepherd digs, it’s important not to give them a big reaction.

This includes both positive and negative reactions.

(I’m sure you won’t have a problem not giving a positive reaction)

If you yell at them or run after them whenever they dig, they’ll start to associate this behavior with getting attention from you.

Even if that attention is negative, it’s still attention nonetheless.

So they’ll continue to dig simply because it gets them attention from you.

Instead, walk over to them completely calm without saying anything and put them in their crate or take them inside.

If you’re outside doing some yard work, being put inside will be punishment enough because they’d much rather be outside with you.

6) Speak With a Professional

If you’ve tried everything on this list and your australian shepherd is still digging, it might be work speaking with a professional.

This could be a dog trainer, behaviorist or even your vet.

They may be able to help you figure out what’s causing your pup to dig and come up with a solution that works for both of you.

Other posts you might find interesting:

8 Best Dog Beds for Australian Shepherds | Beds That Last

9 Weird Reasons Aussies Follow You Everywhere + 4 Tips

When Do Aussies Calm Down? Age By Age Breakdown + Tips

Top 8 Reasons Why Australian Shepherds Paw At You + 3 Tips


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