Many German Shepherd owners have German Shepherds that like to dig. They will often want to know why and how to stop it. This post will show you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be digging and what you can do to stop it.

So, why does your German Shepherd dig? The most likely reason is that it is in its nature to dig. There are some other possible reasons including to cool down, entertainment, separation anxiety and to get next door. 

And, how to get your German Shepherd to stop digging? You can try giving it lots of exercise and attention, blocking off areas that you don’t want to be dug, giving it shaded areas, giving it lots of distractions, training it not to with “leave it training” and getting help from a dog behaviorist. 

It actually helps a lot to figure out the exact reasons why your German Shepherd might be digging since it will help you a lot in reducing the behavior. There are a number of things that you can consider to help you.

Possible reasons why your German Shepherd digs

There are a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might dig a lot that I will mention below.

To protect food

One reason why dogs used to dig was to protect their food. By digging holes in the ground, they would be able to hide their food away from predators. Your German Shepherd might instinctively be doing this as well.

To cool down

Another possible reason why your German Shepherd might dig a lot is because it’s looking to cool down. If your German Shepherd digs when it is hot outside and it does not have access to shaded areas then the digging could be because the soil below is cooler and it’s looking to lay down in it to cool off.

Entertainment

Since German Shepherds were bred to do intensive tasks for hours daily it means that they require a lot of exercise to be properly stimulated. If your German Shepherd is not getting a lot of exercise daily then the digging could be because it is bored and it is making its own entertainment.

Separation anxiety

The cause of the digging could be because it doesn’t like being left without you so and its way of coping with it is to dig. Other signs that this could be the cause is that it becomes anxious when it notices that you’re about to leave and that it does other destructive things while you are away.

Related post: Why is my German Shepherd so anxious?

To get next door

German Shepherds can be very adventurous dogs one possible reason why it is digging is to escape. If your German Shepherd does the digging near the fence then this could be the reason. If your German Shepherd is digging near the fence then it is something that will be very important for you to put an end to.

Ways to get your German Shepherd to stop digging

There are a number of things that you can do to get your German Shepherd to stop digging or to prevent its negative effects that I’ll mention below.

Give it  digging zone

An easy way to mitigate the negative effects if the digging would be to give your German Shepherd a zone where it is ok if it decides to dig there. To encourage it to dig there you can make the soil there looser, using a child-size sandbox and you can block off the areas where you do not want it to dig.

Give it exercise and attention

Since German Shepherds require a lot of exercise to be properly stimulated it is important that you give it lots of exercise every day so that it doesn’t feel the need to entertain itself.

An easy way to give your German Shepherd lots of exercise is to teach it fetch. By playing fetch with it you will be able to allow it to do lots of running while not needing to run a lot yourself.

Another way to allow your German Shepherd to get lots of exercise is to walk it with other dogs. When you walk your German Shepherd with other dogs they will normally play with each other and it will allow them to expend a lot more energy.

You could also teach it to swim. By doing so you will be able to give it. a lot of exercise since swimming can wear dogs out quickly. It’s also helpful in the summer months since it helps to keep them cool.

It’s also important that you give your German Shepherd lots of attention throughout the day. It could be that digging is your German Shepherd’s way of getting attention from you. One way to give it attention would include petting it (obviously), but you can also spend lots of time training it which will also help you to get it responsive to your command which will help you to get it to stop digging when it does.

Block off areas

Another option you have would be to discourage it from digging in areas that you don’t want it to. You can do this by putting in underground fences in the areas or you can block them off with normal fences.

Give it shaded areas/keep it cool

If your German Shepherd tends to dig when it’s hot outside then it’s likely that it’s trying to cool down. To prevent this type of digging you can give it access to lots of shaded areas. You can also try grooming it more often since this will allow for its fur to be more aerated helping to keep it cool.

Give it distractions

Another option you have would be to give it distractions that will take its mind away from digging. You can do this by giving it lots of toys to play with. But, be careful with giving it bones to chew since it might decide to dig so that it can hide it for later.

Train it

You can also try training it to stop digging there are a number of ways that you could do this.

One way would be to do “leave it” training with it. You can teach it the “leave it” command by applying the techniques in the video below.

If you would like some more tips on how to train your German Shepherd take a look at the German Shepherd training book on Amazon.

Once you’re able to get your German Shepherd to listen to you when you say “leave it” you’ll be able to say it when your German Shepherd starts digging and to reward it for stopping and it will teach it that by not digging it will be able to get rewards.

Another option that you have would be to train it to come to you when you tell it to. I have written about how to train your German Shepherd to come to you when called in the past here. By teaching your German Shepherd to come to you when you call it you will be able to get your German Shepherd to stop digging more easily when you see it.

Get help

If you still can’t get your German Shepherd to stop digging then you might want to get help from a dog behaviorist. By doing so you will be able to get advice specific to your German Shepherd.

Related questions

Why does my German Shepherd eat dirt? There are a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might eat dirt. They can include boredom, looking to satisfy nutritional deficiencies, soothing an upset stomach, smelling food there or simply being an inherited trait. I have written about how to stop this kind of behavior in the past here.

Why does my German Shepherd roll in dirt? There are a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be doing this. They can include trying to cool off, liking how it feels on their fur, trying to mask their scent, trying to get rid of loose fur, obsession or excitement. 

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