Why Do Jack Russell Terriers Dig?

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A Jack Russell terrier’s courage, curiosity, and toughness may have attracted you to them, and you became an owner.  However, with time you notice it digging a lot, and you wonder if there is something in your yard. With time, you will realize it is the dog, so why do Jack Russell terriers dig?

Why Do Jack Russell Terriers Dig?

Jack Russell terriers dig because this behavior is instinctual and comes naturally to them. These terriers can dig when they are bored, discontent, or neglected. It is a little difficult for them to stop digging.

However, you can get them to slow down on this behavior and direct their energy elsewhere with effort and training. 

Cute Jack Russell dog licking its nose

Jack Russells were initially bred for hunting purposes. Digging and burrowing allow them to follow scents of animals they may be preying on or something hiding in the ground. Whatever the reason for digging, Jack Russells get great satisfaction from digging.

Understanding why your Jack Russell is digging is vital to knowing the best method to get it to stop digging. The following are some of the reasons why Jack Russells tend to dig.

Feeling Bored

Most Jack Russell terriers tend to be energetic and hyperactive, making them want to be engaging in different activities. However, they tend to become bored and look for things to do when they have no activities to engage in. You may notice this and let it into the yard; this is when they may begin digging.

Digging provides them with physical and mental stimulation. To prevent your Jack Russell from becoming bored, you may plan activities to keep it engaged for a while. If you cannot do this, setting up a specific place for them to dig in will work just fine.

Wanting to Escape

While some dogs are content with staying in the yard or a specific area, others want to roam free. Your dog may be one of those who do not like to be in an enclosed area.  You will notice it digging near the fence line, especially where they might know it leads to somewhere they want to explore.

Jack Russell Terrier dog looking out

Ensure you check your fence line regularly and cover any holes they may have made. When taking it on a walk, you may want to take the route that leads to where they would have gone had they escaped. This way, the need to see what is there will be sated, and you may not have to worry about them escaping.

Being Neglected

Showing your dog love and affection is key to their mental and emotional well-being. If your Jack Russell terrier feels like it is being neglected or not shown love, it is going to act out. This breed needs a lot of attention and spending time with the family, not feeling left out.

You do not have to spend a lot of time with it; you can either do these to make them feel loved and not act out:

  • take it out for walks
  • toss it a ball or a stick

If you have kids, have them play with it. This will keep it active and, at the same time, help it bond with your children.

Picking up a Scent

Jack Russell terriers were bred to hunt rodents and vermin. If yours seems to dig in some part of the yard a lot, it may be because there are rodents or vermin there. It is the scents of the prey they are picking up which is why they are digging.

Because it is a natural instinct for them, it might be challenging to resolve this behavior compared to other reasons why it may be digging. However, you can try to get rid of the rodents or vermin, and if you discover the habit early, you can train it to avoid digging.

Close up picture of a cute JRT

If the situation does not improve, get them toys that involve them digging or take them to barn hunts and Earthdog training.

Related Questions

Similar questions are answered below.

How Do I Train My Jack Russell Terrier Not to Dig Holes in the Ground?

Training your Jack Russell terrier not to dig holes in the ground may be a little challenging at first.  To ensure your dog does not dig you can buy self-play toys for it, get it a specific place to dig, get more exercise, and practice reinforcement.

How Do I Stop My Jack Russell From Digging Under the Fence?

Stopping your Jack Russell from digging under the fence is quite easy. Placing rocks along the fence makes it almost impossible for the dog to dig. You can also install an electric wire low enough that t gets a zap whenever it tries to dig.


Jack Russell terriers are natural diggers. With time, the digging may become a problem, and you have to find a solution. The solution is pegged on the cause, and finding out the cause is almost solving the entire thing, and you can keep enjoying having your furry friend around.