Home Dogs Why do Shih Tzus Dig?: 4 Effective Strategies to Stop Them

Why do Shih Tzus Dig?: 4 Effective Strategies to Stop Them

by Pawsome Tips
why do shih tzus dig

Does your Shih Tzu have a knack for turning your backyard into a mini construction site? Are you one of those owners who are curious to know why do Shih Tzus dig?

Digging is an expected behavior in dogs, but it can be frustrating and even destructive when excessive. Fortunately, there are effective strategies to end your Shih Tzu digging habit and reclaim your pristine lawn.

In this guide, we will dive into the root causes of this behavior and provide practical solutions to tackle it head-on. From understanding the underlying reasons behind your Shih Tzu’s digging to implementing positive reinforcement techniques, we will equip you with the tools to end this digging dilemma.

So, if you’re tired of filling holes and want to create a peaceful and beautiful outdoor space for you and your furry friend, let’s embark on this journey together and unearth the solutions to stop your Shih Tzu’s digging habit once and for all.

Why do Shih Tzus Dig: Understanding the digging behavior

Shih Tzus are known for their charming personalities and adorable looks, but they also have the instinct to dig. Understanding why they engage in this behavior is the first step toward addressing the issue. There are several reasons why Shih Tzus dig, and it’s crucial to identify the underlying cause to implement practical solutions.

  • One common reason for digging is boredom. Shih Tzus are intelligent dogs that require mental stimulation and physical exercise. When they don’t receive enough attention or have limited opportunities to release their energy, they may resort to digging as entertainment.
  • Another reason is instinct. Shih Tzus belong to the terrier group, which historically has been bred for digging purposes. Their instincts tell them to dig for various reasons, such as hunting prey or creating a den for themselves.
  • Lastly, anxiety or stress can also lead to excessive digging in Shih Tzus. Like humans, dogs can experience anxiety and engage in repetitive behaviors, such as digging, to cope with emotions. By identifying the root cause of your Shih Tzu’s digging behavior, you can better tailor your approach to stopping it.

The adverse effects of excessive digging

While some digging can be harmless, excessive digging can adversely affect your Shih Tzu and outdoor space. Firstly, digging can cause injuries to your dog. They may encounter sharp objects or even get their paws stuck in the holes they’ve created. Additionally, excessive digging can lead to the destruction of your garden or lawn. Seeing multiple spots scattered around your yard can be frustrating and unsightly. It can also damage plants, flowers, and irrigation systems.

Furthermore, excessive digging can strain your relationship with your Shih Tzu. Constantly reprimanding your dog for digging can create a negative atmosphere and may lead to a breakdown in trust. Addressing the digging habit positively and constructively is important to maintain a healthy bond with your furry companion.

Our Shih Tzu has just turned 3 and has never dug. Now she is in the garden digging holes that are very deep. Why has she started doing this? & How do we stop this new behavior?

A question asked at Quora

Practical strategies to prevent digging

Now that we understand the reasons behind your Shih Tzu’s digging behavior and the adverse effects it can have, let’s explore some practical strategies to prevent it. By implementing these strategies, you can redirect your dog’s energy and create a harmonious environment for both of you.

1. Providing alternative outlets for digging

One practical approach is to provide your Shih Tzu with alternative outlets for their digging instinct. You can do this by creating a designated digging area in your yard. Please choose an area where it’s acceptable for your dog to dig and make it enticing for them. Bury toys or treats in the area to encourage digging. You can also use sand or loose soil to make the area more appealing. You can protect the rest of your yard by redirecting your Shih Tzu’s digging behavior to a designated spot while allowing them to engage in their instinct.

2. Using positive reinforcement to discourage digging

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool when it comes to training dogs. Instead of punishing your Shih Tzu for digging, focus on rewarding them for good behavior. Whenever you catch your dog refraining from digging or using the designated digging area, shower them with praise, treats, or playtime. This positive association will encourage them to repeat the desired behavior. Be consistent with your rewards and provide them immediately after the desired action to reinforce the connection between the behavior and the reward. With time and patience, your Shih Tzu will learn better ways to earn attention or rewards.

3. Addressing underlying behavioral issues that may contribute to digging

Sometimes, excessive digging can be a symptom of underlying behavioral issues. If your Shih Tzu is experiencing anxiety or stress, addressing these issues is important to stop the digging habit effectively. Creating a calm and secure environment for your dog can help alleviate their anxiety. Please provide them with a comfortable and quiet space to retreat when overwhelmed. Additionally, consider engaging in activities that promote relaxation, such as puzzle toys or obedience training. If the digging behavior persists despite your efforts, consulting with a professional dog trainer or a veterinarian who can provide further guidance may be beneficial.

Shih Tzu digging behavior
Andrés Carlo / Pixabay

4. Seeking professional help for severe digging habits

In some cases, a Shih Tzu’s digging habit may be profoundly ingrained or a result of more complex behavioral issues. If you’ve tried various strategies and the digging persists, it’s advisable to seek professional help. A certified dog trainer or a behaviorist can assess your Shih Tzu’s behavior and create a customized training plan. They can identify any underlying issues and provide expert guidance on modifying your dog’s behavior. Remember, every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Getting professional assistance can make a significant difference in stopping your Shih Tzu digging habit.


Digging is a natural behavior for Shih Tzus, but excessive digging can be frustrating and destructive. You can implement effective prevention strategies by understanding the reasons behind your dog’s digging behavior. Providing alternative outlets for digging, using positive reinforcement, addressing underlying behavioral issues, and seeking professional help are all valuable tools in stopping your Shih Tzu digging habit. Remember, patience and consistency are key when training your dog. With time and effort, you can create a peaceful and beautiful outdoor space for you and your furry friend to enjoy. So, let’s end those digging dilemmas and reclaim your pristine lawn once and for all!


Why is my Shih Tzu digging in the first place? 

Shih Tzus may dig for various reasons, including seeking attention, exploring scents, hunting instincts, boredom, or finding an excellent spot. Understanding the underlying cause is important to address the behavior.

How can I deter my Shih Tzu from digging in the yard?

You can start by providing an appropriate digging area with loose soil or sand so they have an outlet for their digging instincts. Train your dog to use this spot and reward them when they do. Additionally, ensure they get enough physical and mental stimulation to reduce boredom.

Is punishment an effective way to stop digging behavior?

No, punishment is generally not recommended. It can lead to fear and anxiety in your Shih Tzu, worsening the digging behavior. Positive reinforcement, redirection, and training are more effective ways to address the habit.

How can I redirect my Shih Tzu’s digging behavior?

Offer engaging toys and activities that keep your Shih Tzu occupied, such as puzzle toys, interactive play sessions, and regular walks. Redirect their energy and attention away from digging.

Should I consider professional training for my Shih Tzu’s digging habit?

Consulting a professional dog trainer or behaviorist could be beneficial if the digging behavior persists despite your efforts. They can assess the situation, identify triggers, and provide tailored strategies to address the behavior effectively.

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