Why do Golden Retrievers Dig? The Gold Digger!

Why do Golden Retrievers Dig? The Gold Digger!

Golden Retrievers are classified as a sporting dog breed. Usually, they are task to retrieve small animals. Yet, as the breed develops over time, there are still some doggy characteristics that remain intact. One of these is the digging behavior of the Goldies, but why do Golden Retrievers dig?

In this blog post, I listed here some of the reasons behind the digging attitude of the Golden Retrievers. Also, included here are different tips and approaches that you should do in order to eliminate this negative trait of the Goldies. Let’s check them out.

Various Reasons Why do Golden Retrievers Dig

Finding several holes in the yard may be very disgusting. But, it may not be surprising because dogs, especially the Goldies really love to do it. Well, for what reasons it may be, it’s for us to find out! Knowing the reasons behind the digging issue of the Golden Retriever is generally important in order for us to deal with this doggy problem properly.

Check below why do Golden Retrievers dig:


Tracing on their bloodlines, the Golden Retriever has an innate nature of being an excellent hunter. Along with the development of breeding the Goldies, their instinct in fetching small animals for their master is highly remarkable.

Golden Retrievers will usually dig deeper to find the haven of small animals even without any training. Call the service of the Goldies if you have any rodent problems at home. For sure, they will definitely never fail you with that digging project.


Another reason why do Golden Retrievers dig is because they are looking for ways to focus their attention. Dogs also get bored for some time and once they get into that state, they will find anything to make them preoccupied.

If there is no source of stimulation that they may find, the Goldies will use their paws to do the exercise – the digging. So, it is actually always a good idea to take them out for a daily long walk at the park.

Aiming for attention

Dogs like the Golden Retrievers usually spend most of their time in the backyard. Since they are alone, some of them are already seeking their owner’s attention. In order to deal with that, they will sometimes be settled with an angry shout.

As much as possible, do not reward your Goldies digging behavior with negative attention especially if you need to leave them outside the house. Rather, it is very crucial to praise positive behaviors.


Why do Golden Retrievers dig? Well, it turned out that one of the reasons for Golden Retrievers digging is due to their compulsive behavior. If ever the Goldies become nervous, they will usually dig. They typically do that because, for them, digging is one way to relax and release their anxious energy.

However, if you notice that digging is a new behavior of your Goldies, try to analyze if something from your routine has been changed. For example, there are new neighbors arrived in town. Because of that, the Golden Retriever is just trying to lay down their space. So, what they will do is to dig in your backyard.


When the hot season is already in, the Golden Retriever may begin digging the soil in your backyard. They may be looking for a cool place underground. Normally, Golden Retrievers have thick coats making them feel warm during summer. Well, if the hole that the Goldies are digging has the same length of their body size, it is actually an indication that the dog is really wanting to cool down.


One reason behind Golden Retrievers digging is feeding them with too much food. Actually, the Golden Retrievers dig in order for them to bury their food when they can’t finish it. The hole will serve as their reservoir for their leftovers.

This is another doggy behavior that may also be attributed to their instinct. For them, this is a good way to save food. So, if your Golden Retriever is burying food on the ground, it is a strong indication of overfeeding.

Ways to Stop the Digging Issue of the Golden Retrievers

Well, Golden Retrievers’ digging behavior is actually a negative behavior to deal with. Now, that you already have an idea about the various reasons why do Golden Retrievers dig, then resolving the digging issue would be fair and easy. However, some pet owners are having difficulty in stopping this damaging doggy behavior. This is primarily due to the absence of any clues why they are digging.

Prevention of Dog’s Digging Problem – the Basic Techniques

Below are some of the basic approaches that you must have to employ in dealing with your Goldies digging behavior. This may be very helpful for those dogs that are not showing any clues at all.

*Spend some time with them outside

When your Golden Retriever is in your backyard, make sure that you give a little bit of time with them. Consider playing with them within your garden or give them some toys to play with. In case you notice that your Goldies is trying to bury small toys, teach him that digging is a bad doggy behavior.

Instead, praise him for playing the toy in a much pretty acceptable manner. Basically, doing that will result in reinforcement of good behavior to your Golden Retriever. Aside from that, you can also resolve the reasons behind your Golden Retriever digging issue.

*Provide them some personal space

As much as possible, do not leave your Golden Retriever outside the yard when you’re not at home or when there is no one to look after him. However, if they really need to be in the yard all alone, try to provide a small designated area for him outside. This area is where his digging attitude would be allowed.

You could pick an area in your yard in which you don’t mind if that would be damaged by your Goldies. Another good idea is to make an area for them which is filled with loose soil or play sand. This way they can still do the digging and may bury their toys.

  1. Put a sandbox or a particular area of soft soil within your yard.
  2. Place some of your Goldies favorite toys into the sand.
  3. Make your Golden Retriever be familiar with this special digging area for them.
  4. Give them a reward the moment they use that area.
  5. Once they dig on the other parts of the yard, command them with a “NO” and bring them back to their designated digging area.
  6. Repeat doing this process and be consistent until they learn in doing so.

However, you’ll have to train them to dig only on that particular area that you prepare specifically for them. Yet, doing that will permit them to reinforce their instincts. The good thing is that it will execute out in a safer approach.

If the digging problem of your Golden Retriever persists, the best approach for this is to make the yard a little bit hard to dig for your dog. Consider putting some rocks on the ground or incorporate some chicken wire so that dog digging may be prevented.

Prevention of Dog’s Digging Problem – Training Approach

Obviously, Golden Retrievers are doggy diggers. And if their digging behavior is one of the problems, worry no more as there are some training approaches that you may consider doing. Check them below and see which one would be helpful for you in eradicating the reason for your Golden Retrievers digging.


Basically, counter-conditioning is one of the training strategies that deal with the elimination of the Golden Retrievers digging issue. It actually works by teaching the Goldies to connect any negative circumstances into a positive ones. For example, if your Golden Retriever will be left alone in your house, a treat or a toy will be given to him.

The counter-conditioning approach is actually a big help for doggy diggers. Remember, most of them are anxious. And for every passing time, their stress will be reduced by those key situations because they already know to relate them into positive actions.

*Positive Reinforcement

Well, starting puppyhood, the positive reinforcement method is already taught to dogs as part of their training. Generally, this training approach works very well when you are considering to prevent any dog’s unwanted behaviors. Positive reinforcement technique usually depends on you to be in the garden even for a little while. Immediately give them praise and treats once your Goldies show behaviors in a manner that you really want them to do.

In relation to the reason behind the Golden Retrievers digging attitude, consider giving a toy to your Goldies that they would most likely bury. This action is a good thing to do once you notice that your Golden Retriever is burying some items into your yard. Afterward, give them a command to sit or stay. In case, they refuse the drive to move away and bury the toy, it is a good indication to reward them.

Moreover, if your Golden Retriever begins to comprehend what you really want from them, offer them treat only on moments that they don’t dig to bury it if you give them something. Eventually, reduce the frequency of providing treats. Do these until you get to a point that they totally comprehend the ways on behaving in the garden.


If your Golden Retriever is not yet been trained regarding the proper ways on behaving outdoors especially when unsupervised, the best way to deal with it is limiting their access. Most pet owners are considering crate training for their dogs. The method goes by leaving the Goldies in the crate where they are allowed to relax and be safe.

Proper crate training is generally important if you consider using the limitation method to your digging Golden Retriever. The number one goal in doing this is to guarantee that the Goldies are comfortable inside their crate while you’re away.


Basically, the best way to deal with the reasons for the Golden Retriever digging issue is to spend time with them. Make your way out to the yard with your Goldies and watch what they are doing there. Once you notice any signs that they are preparing for a dig the second time around, immediately call them back to you.

In case they give a good feedback and goes running, it’s a sign that you need to praise and provide them treat. Ball playing, praising them for a job well done, or providing a treat – all these rewards are generally good. Yet, regardless of the reward, try anything that the Goldies loves and, for sure, they will respond well on that.

In case your Golden Retriever dig a hole without your awareness, remember not to punish them right away. Better to ignore your Goldies as you patiently fill the hole which is a result of their digging behavior. Afterward, take your Golden Retriever inside the house and let them out when you feel that you are ready for a new training session.

Why do Golden Retrievers Dig? Boredom – Then Keep Them Busy

It is discussed above that one of the reasons behind the digging behavior of Golden Retrievers is their boredom. There are times that the Goldies do not get proper stimulation during the day. Digging is one way for them to create their own fun and become active. But, for this doggy digger, digging is a great pastime for the Golden Retrievers especially the bored ones.

Fortunately, there are things that you can employ to make your Goldies busy. Here are some of those:

Daily walking and playing

The adult Goldies really require even a single hour of daily exercise. Brisk walking or playing with them in the yard will do the work here.

Teach them the nosework

Aside from digging, one of the natural instincts of the Goldies is sniffing. So, to deal with this properly, introduce to them the nosework. Nosework is actually a group of simple games that aims for allowing your dog to bring out the most powerful senses inside of them. The bottom line here is to educate your Goldies to monitor various smells.


If you opt to employ this game to your Golden Retriever, they will stimulate their brain and get all their energy intended for the hole-digging. Introduce this nosework game through the following steps:

  • Initially, hold both fists hiding a treat in just one hand.
  • Teach your Golden Retriever to follow the command ‘find it’
  • Practice doing this until such time that the Golden Retriever can find the treat once they hear that new command.
  • Afterward, try to hide treats with a strong aroma around your house. Alter the level of difficulty in finding the treats. Hide some in easy to find areas and others in hard-to-find places.
  • Instruct your Goldies to find them inside the house. Make some encouragement as they are searching for it.
  • Praise them more as they sniff out lots of treats.

Moreover, it is good idea to elevate the level of difficulty the moment your Goldies gets better at sniffing. Better to practice consistently here to reduce the anxiety of your Goldies. This will also be one way for them to get rid of their extra energy.

Frequently Asked Questions


A: Since it is in the nature of the Goldies to dig, one way for them to do this to their owner is to paw at you. Well, just like digging, their main reason for doing so is to get your attention. So, if ever you feel their paws touching you, feel very confident that they want you to stop from the things that you are doing. From there, it is better to direct your focus on them. And that’s really what they want.



A: Generally, Golden Retrievers begin to calm down once they reach the age of 2 to 3 years old. This is actually the stage when they are shifting from their puppyhood to the adult stage. And the moment they turn four, they tend to become much calmer. But, in terms of energy levels, the Goldies still have the high energy compared with the other doggies. Yet, there digging behavior still persists. Proper training is all you need to address it.



A: The Golden Retrievers are considered full grown, when they reach a particular weight and height. For males, they actually grow up to 23 to 24 inches with a weight of 65 to 75 pounds. Their female counterpart can get as tall as 21.5 to 22.5 and weighs 55 to 65 pounds. Once they reach the age of 1 year old, the Goldies already achieve their full height. But, it does not have any direct effect on their natural instinct for digging.

Final Words

The reasons why do Golden Retrievers dig can generally be traced back to their natural instinct of retrieving smaller animals. Aside from that, there are also other reasons that are linked to these negative doggy behaviors. Being their pet owner, it is our full responsibility to train them properly so that digging would not be as disastrous as it can be. In fact, some of the strategies needed here would likely create healthier and happier Goldies.

About Tom Thorpe

Tom Thorpe has overtime interacted with different species of dogs mostly through breeding and training; according to him, man’s best friend is yet to find solace in the company of man, as they are continuously mistreated. He, therefore, runs a rescue center that provides shelter to stray dogs, and has been advocating for the rights of animals; the Golden Retriever dogs are among his favorites, the reason he came up with the extensive excerpts to help educate the society on the right treatment and care of the respective breed. Tom spends most of his time running his dog shelter; he is a husband and proud father of two boys and loves to go fishing during his free time.

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