Why Is My Jack Russell Digging? [+How to Stop Digging]

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Jack Russells are a unique dog breed specifically bred to hunt, and they sure love to show off their skills.

Plenty of positive traits that make them an excellent family pet and certainly some other characteristics.

A few personality characteristics of the Jack Russell, such as their natural tendency to dig and create holes with ease, leaves individuals considering a Jack Russell or individuals who just adopted a Jack Russell with a lot of questions.

The most specific question on this subject is simple but worth diving into.

Why is my Jack Russell digging?

After owning a Jack Russell for nearly 2 years now and plenty of time digging into this topic myself, here is what I can tell you:

Jack Russells dig for various reasons which can include any of the following:

  • Following a scent or attempting to hunt a vermin or rodent
  • Boredom
  • Lack of Love and Affection
  • To Escape an Area or a Yard
  • Out of Fear

While these are not necessarily the only reasons a Jack Russell will dig, it accounts for the primary reasons that a Jack Russell will dig.

I’ve dealt with the digging myself in the early days and would like to think it is now behind me, but I want to attempt to help all of you avoid the digging phase and save your beautiful yards if possible.

That is what the rest of this post is designed to break down for you.

I am going to go more in-depth about Jack Russells and their digging tendencies and also give you a full tutorial and breakdown as to how you can stop your Jack Russell from digging and end the behavior moving into the future.

More specifically, I plan to break down this “ultimate digging guide for Jack Russells” in the following fashion for you today:

As you can see, I have quite a bit to cover on the topic of Jack Russells digging, so if you need to use any of the links above to skip to a specific section of this guide, feel free to do so.

Otherwise, give me about 5-7 minutes, and I will cover everything I believe you need to know about a Jack Russell digging and how you can get your Jack Russell to stop digging.

Here are the crucial details to understand.

Why Is My Jack Russell Digging Recap

Jack Russells are full of energy and certainly can display some entertaining behaviors but digging is undoubtedly one of the behaviors that likely is causing nothing except frustration for anyone who is dealing with it currently.

It frustrated me as well and still would if it were a behavior still taking place.

The critical thing to understand when it comes to a Jack Russell digging is that it typically is being caused for a specific reason, and it is 100% possible to get the behavior to slow down and stop entirely with some effort and some training.

First, let’s make sure that you have an understanding of what may be causing the digging issues and digging behaviors with your Jack Russell in the first place.

Below are what I believe to be the top 4 reasons you will find your Jack Russell digging a fresh hole in the yard.


Boredom can be the cause of plenty of bad behaviors with a large majority of dog breeds.

Jack Russells certainly tend to act out when they enter that boredom phase.

Especially when they are young.

This seemed to be at its peak for my Jack Russell until about 18 months of age.

Overall, her digging slowed down quite a bit before the age of 1, but by the age of 18 months, I could really start to see her becoming more obedient and picking up on training much faster.

If you allow your Jack Russell to roam in a backyard that is fenced in or a yard that is not fenced in without supervision, it is quite possible they find an area that they want to dig.

Jack Russells can entertain themselves for a small amount of time but left alone too long with nothing to do but find trouble is definitely an easy way to walk into a nice fresh hole in your backyard.

My advice would be to ensure that you are either outside with your Jack Russell to prevent the behavior or invest in something such as a 25-50-foot lead that you can stake into the ground.

This will help control the total square footage that your Jack Russell can run or dig.

You can also invest in a shock collar for your Jack Russell, but if you do this, I highly recommend understanding how to use the shock collar ethically, safely, and responsibly to keep your JR safe.

Overall, you need to be offering something to allow your Jack Russell to avoid boredom in the early ages and puppyhood if you want to prevent the digging behaviors.

It is that simple.

#2-Lack of Attention and Affection

If the boredom does not kick in first, being neglected or not shown enough attention can also cause your Jack Russell to act out.

This dog breed craves human interaction and the chance to please their owners.

They do not like being left out of the circle and want to be around the family when possible.

If you constantly have your Jack Russell isolated from the family or outside of the home with no one around, you are begging for them to start digging as a result.

Spend some time throwing a ball to them or playing a game with them.

It will keep them active, shows them some affection, and provides exercise all at the same time.

#3-Trying to Venture the Town

Your Jack Russell may be digging just to get out and roam.

Some dogs have this desire more than others and will do just about everything they can to get out of a yard.

This is typically when your Jack Russell will be digging specifically near a fence line where they are aware that the other side leads to a night out on the town.

It is not a bad idea to walk your fence line from time to time, double-checking that they have not started this process already, and you just have not noticed.

Nonetheless, planning an escape or tunneling out of the yard is one of the reasons a Jack Russell will dig and the primary reason my Jack Russell would dig during the first 18 months of owning her.

#4-Running from Something Unknown or Picking Up a Scent

Another thing you must keep in mind when you adopt a Jack Russell is that they are bred to hunt.

Initially, these smart dogs were burrowing through tunnels hunting fox and other rodents.

When they pick up a scent or spot a rabbit, the natural prey drive kicks in, which is strong with Jack Russells.

If your Jack Russell is taking a special liking to one area of the yard or digging consistently, there is a strong chance that it is due to a rabbit’s nest or other animal scents that they are picking up.

It is tough to control this behavior when it occurs, especially if you do not catch the negative behavior early.

It is best to attempt to correct the behavior as soon as possible in the process.

Now that we know why your Jack Russell may be digging and have a clear understanding that these dogs do naturally have a tendency to dig in general, it is essential that we also discuss how to get your Jack Russell to stop digging.

Let’s move into those details now.

How Do I Stop My Jack Russell from Digging?

Stopping your Jack Russell from digging is not as tall of a task as you may believe.

In fact, it is relatively straightforward, but it does take some prior research to understand which methods can effectively get your Jack Russell to stop digging.

Below, I’ve compiled what I believe to be the 4 best ways and tips to implement to get your Jack Russell to break their digging behavior and no longer be digging holes in that garden, lawn or along those fence lines.

Let’s dive into those next.

#1-Train and Manage Your Jack Russell

Training and managing your Jack Russell is the best way to ensure you correct all bad behaviors, not just digging issues.

This could include other bad behaviors such as chewing.

Barking is another example.

However, I am a firm believer in rewarding good behavior with my Jack Russell, not punishing the bad behavior.

When it comes to digging, your best bet is to catch and correct the behavior when it is taking place.

Using items such as chew toys and other stimulus is an excellent way to do this.

With any dog, anytime you can get a bad behavior corrected, and show a reward when your Jack Russell displays the behavior you want to see, they will naturally start to program themselves that they want the same reward again.

They will attempt the same behaviors in the future.

Just be sure that you continue to reward the good behavior and not digging with things such as love, affection, and even a tasty treat.

#2-Ensure Your Jack Russell Has the Toys to Stay Occupied

This is huge and cannot be overstated when it comes to owning a Jack Russell.

Make sure that you have plenty of chew toys and items that your Jack Russell can use in the yard and in the home that will keep them occupied.

Large chew bones that are safe and will not splinter is one example and a great option.

Pull toys and other toys that you can interact with your Jack Russell with are also great such as tennis balls and frisbees.

Regardless of which items you choose, it is extremely important that you surround your Jack Russell with an opportunity to succeed and something to keep their mind busy and not thinking about digging a new hole.

Trust me, it makes a big difference, and those large chew bones will last longer than you think and help more than you may believe.

#3-Exercise Is Always Crucial with Jack Russell Terriers

I talk about this in several blogs on this website, but I cannot stress this enough.

Exercise is so critical to Jack Russell.

These dogs build up energy and tend to act out the most when they have no way of releasing their energy.

They need exercise.

Get busy with them and do things such as running, walking, or even swimming.

The more tuckered out you can get a Jack Russell, the less they are going to dig and perform other negative behaviors.

Not only that, but they will just be a calm demeanor dog if you can stay diligent with an exercise routine with your Jack Russell.

#4-Dedicate A Spot for Your Jack Russell to Go Nuts

Some individuals like to take this approach, and I am not against it.

I have not done it myself to this point, but I can see the appeal of dedicating an area for your Jack Russell to dig.

You could create a sandbox in one corner of the yard and teach your JR that this is the spot to dig.

It will help immensely if you help your Jack Russell understand that this is a digging spot.

Try placing toys, chew bones, and other items in the sand to get them acclimated to the area.

It is Not Always the Lawn, Watch the Carpet Too

Something else you need to keep in mind when it comes to stopping your Jack Russell from digging is that it will not always be your lawn that can be the victim of digging with a JR.

It can very well be carpet, couch cushions, or other furnishings.

Jack Russells, when they are young, need more than just supervision when outside.

They need supervision and oversight basically anywhere they are if they are outside of their crate.

Now, that does not mean that you can’t leave your Jack Russell to go to work, but if they are out and about or even around young children or nice home décor, you should be keeping an eye on them.

To effectively keep your Jack Russell from digging inside on carpet and other furniture, implement the tips we have already laid out thus far into this post for the best results.

Overall, with some patience and diligence, your Jack Russell will eventually stop digging.

Do Jack Russells Like to Burrow?

Yes, Jack Russells like to burrow.

Jack Russells without training and oversight are a burrowing and digging dog breed. They enjoy burrowing to hunt in the wild and naturally have a prey drive that causes them to burrow and dig to follow scents.

To effectively get a Jack Russell to stop burrowing, it is crucial to follow the tips we have laid out thus far into this post to end digging and burrowing all together or as much as possible.


Jack Russells have been known in the past to have a bad reputation for certain behavior characteristics such as digging.

While this may true, it typically only continues to be an issue with an untrained or non-monitored Jack Russell.

Take some time to train and interact with a Jack Russell, and they can turn into an excellent family pet for the entire family to enjoy.

Luna and I wish you the best of luck with your Jack Russell and the journey ahead of you.

Share Your Thoughts

Do you have any further recommendations you can share with the readers that can help them to stop their Jack Russells from digging more effectively?

Any other tips that you believe need to be added to this list?

Be sure to share those thoughts, stories, and concerns by dropping a comment below.

As always, Luna and I appreciate you stopping by and reading today, and we will see you next time.

Josh Martin- Founder and Creator of Terrier Owner

Josh Martin is the proud owner of a female Jack Russell Terrier Named Luna. Josh founded TerrierOwner.com to share the stories of owning a Terrier and to help all terrier owners with the struggles, excitement and common questions that come with being a new terrier parent.

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