How to Stop a German Shepherd from Digging

How to stop a German shepherd from digging

If you are worried about your dog digging habits, you should understand that digging is a natural form of “mischief” for most dogs. It is common for dogs to start digging the yard anytime they are free. 

German shepherds can start digging the backyard due to boredom, natural hunting instincts, emotional anxiety after separation from the owner, and the need to hide bones and food leftovers. A dog can also dig a hole to satisfy the need to cool the body temperature. 

Some of the measures you can adopt to stop a German Shepherd from dogging include exercising your dog to kill boredom, providing a good shade during the summer, and interacting with your dog more often. You can exercise your German Shepherd through simple exercises like dog walking, running, hiking, and chasing toys. 

Why do German shepherds dig?

German Shepherds are high-energy dogs, and they can utilize this energy elsewhere like digging your yard if this energy is not utilized properly. The following are some of the reasons why your German Shepherd is digging your yard:


Your dog may start digging as a way to kill boredom. When he is left alone for a longer period, your dog will suffer loneliness and will engage in mischievous behavior to deal with the emotional stress and anxiety. 


German shepherds usually dig around fences while trying to escape. Your dog will do this while trying to run away from something or getting something. The excitement from other dogs and loneliness could also be major contributors.

If you deny your dog the freedom to move around, he will attempt to dig and escape. You let your dog enjoy some freedom by taking him for morning runs, evening walks, or even hiking. 

You can use a wireless dog fence to restrain your dog’s movement. 

In search of prey

German shepherds have a unique instinct of smelling moles or rodents nearby. For your dog to catch the prey, digging underground might be the only solution. This behavior may be destructive, especially if you have vegetables and fruits in your garden. 

Burying food

Your dog may dig holes to hide meals and eat later. He can hide bones and chew treats once he has had enough so that he can get something to eat later. 

Temperature regulation

When the temperatures are too hot or cold, German shepherds will find a way to make the temperatures manageable. Since the ground may be a little cooler compared to the outside atmosphere, your dog will dig holes to escape the high temperatures. When the temperatures are high, your dog will lay in the hole for natural air circulation.


Dogs want to feel loved and treated right. Feelings of isolation and negligence will make your German shepherd try to look for your attention by digging. Digging will capture your attention and respond to his demands. 

Preparing for birth

In case you notice your female dog digging effortlessly, she may be getting ready to welcome her offspring. Before the actual delivery, a female dog will search for a secure place to deliver her babies. In this case, a hole dug in the backyard may be the secure place to satisfy her maternal desires. Keeping puppies in the hole is also a way of safeguarding them from predators. 

Mating season

Male German shepherds will notice and smell a female nearby. If the female is in-season, they will try to look for ways to find the female dog. Hence, digging may be a way of creating a route out of your compound to reach the mating partner. 

How to stop German shepherd from digging

If your German Shepherd is always digging, you should find a way to stop this habit. Here are some ways you can use to discourage your German Shepherd from digging:

Always exercise them

German shepherds are energetic dogs, and they need some form of exercise to release some of their energy. You should walk your dog twice a day, or tag him along when going for a morning run. Keeping your dog busy through excises reduces incidences of digging. 

Spending time together

Engage your dog in playful activities as a way of bonding and spending time together. Bonding with your dog will help kill boredom and reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and negligence. 

Get a paddling pool

One way to curb extreme heat for German shepherds is by investing in a pool. Fill your pool with water every morning. When it is hot during the day, your dog will get into the water to cool off. When the temperatures go to the extreme, add some ice cubes or refill the pool with fresh water.


Come up with a schedule to keep the dog busy all day. Start by planning different training methods and techniques that will be enjoyable and constructive.


German shepherds will start digging as a way of seeking attention, regulating extreme temperatures, and escaping boredom. It is essential to understand why your dog is developing such behavior.

By identifying the reason why your dog is digging, you will be able to handle the issue head-on. You can control and stop this habit by engaging your German shepherd in a lot of exercises that will require energy. If all the above actions do not help, you should consult a dog behaviorist for more advice.

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I am an animal behaviorist, and I am happy to share my knowledge with GSD owners on everything German Shepherd.

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