4 min read


Why Do Golden Retrievers Dig



4 min read


Why Do Golden Retrievers Dig




Imagine coming home from a good day at the office, looking forward to preparing your healthy dinner and coming home to a yard full of holes. Is this something you fancy? Certainly, this is something which you do not want to happen. Digging is an instinctive behavior to all dogs, not just Golden Retrievers. Before you scramble for a solution and put a stop to the digging done throughout your garden and yard, it is a must to be knowledgeable of the numerous reasons behind all the digging. Once you know the reasons, you will be able to address your Golden Retriever’s behavior and control it. 

The Root of the Behavior

Regardless if your yard is big or small, your Golden Retriever will still love a good dig. But instead of completely giving up and surrendering your entire yard to him, you will be happy to know that there are various things you can do to put a stop to this mess and salvage your beloved garden. Instinct is one of the primary reasons why your dog digs. Golden Retrievers were bred to help people during gaming season. They are so-called because they helped retrieve small animals. They have also been known to dig near small nests even if they have not been trained to do so. Golden Retrievers need plenty of exercise because they are a very active breed. They need to be taken out daily for walks and they need to be entertained at home or else they will start ransacking your yard. Digging is a stress reliever for dogs so if they are anxious because of a certain change in their environment or their routine, they may start doing it. 

For example, if new movers move in, your dog might start digging near the fences, so they can release their stress and also let other people and pets know that it is his territory. Golden Retrievers have a thick coat and this makes hot days sometimes become unbearable. Burying themselves a few inches below soil makes them a couple degrees cooler so if you see this happening on a hot day, then you already know the reason. Lastly, digging can be because of your dog eating more than he should. If you give him too much he might try to hide food in the holes in your garden. This is for them to have something to go back to if you are away for long periods and forget to leave them a good meal. This is another instinctive behavior so what you need to do is to adjust how much you feed him.

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Encouraging the Behavior

Once you have worked out what is causing your Goldie to dig so much, you can then proceed to control his behavior. This problem can be fairly easy to solve but for other dog owners, it can take a bit more time and a bit more effort. With basic training, you can be on your way to a happy dog and a beautiful garden. Keep him company outside. Make sure that you outside the same time as your dog. This is also a good time to reinforce his good behavior. Play with him in the garden and provide him with toys that he may try to bury instinctively. However, you should teach him that it is not a good thing to dig. Make sure that you praise him if he plays with the toy in an acceptable manner. 

As much as possible, you would not want to leave your Goldie outside without supervision. However, if he really needs to be outside and you cannot be with him all the time, you should give him his own space. Create an area in your garden which would not mind being destroyed. Fill the area with loose soil or sand and then have him play there with his toys. Allow your Goldie to indulge in something he enjoys but make sure that he and your garden are both safe. Remember that positive reinforcement is key and is one of the best training methods for both puppies and dogs. With this method, you have to be in the garden for a while so that you can quickly give him treats and praise him for his good behavior. Once your Goldie understands what you want and expect from him, you can start dropping the frequency of treats until they understand fully how to behave in the garden.

Other Solutions and Considerations

Restriction is one of the solutions you can turn to if you have not had time to train your Goldie and is unable to supervise him. Crate training is one of the things a lot of dog owners turn to. Leaving your dog in a crate ensures that they are safe and calm until the time you are able to get back to him. Proper crate training is necessary if it restrictions is one of the solutions you are thinking of. You have to ensure that your Goldie is comfortable and happy in the crate where they will be left alone for a few hours.


Digging is a problem that is very common for dog owners. So, if your Goldie starts doing it, do not panic. Consider the reasons why you dog might be digging so you can choose the correct training method that is most suitable for the situation. You are the one in control and not the dog. You can help him change his behavior by proper training. Keep calm and give your dog clear and firm instructions and you will be both on your way to sharing your beautiful garden together. 

By a Chow Chow lover Jhoana Carla de Toro

Published: 04/12/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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