Why Do Basenjis Dig Holes? Is This Normal?

Why do Basenjis dig holes? Ever asked yourself this question? Well, if you are a Basenji owner, then that’s more than likely the case. To give you a better understanding of why that is, here is a short list of why your Basenji would be digging holes:

  • Rodents and Vermin (Squirrels, Rats, Mice)
  • Hoarding
  • Temperature Regulation
  • To give birth
  • For comfort
  • As a challenge
  • Temperament
a Basenji guessing which paw a treat is in
Basenjis are quite good at nosework, like this puppy guessing which hand the treat is in.

These are just some of the many reasons why Basenjis dig holes. At the core, any breed of dog loves to dig and does it for fun. However, when it is more than frequently done then it becomes a problem. And if you’re looking this up I’m sure you also want to know how to make it stop.

In this article, we’re going to look at some of the things related to Basenjis digging. From the way to how you can get them to stop, or at least try to.

Reasons Why Basenjis Dig Holes

Rodents and Vermin

While it is in every dog’s nature to chase anything that moves, you might notice your B goes a little extra with it. They like to dig up those uninvited guests in your yard/house. They can even dig a whole tunnel following a mole.

As you know or maybe have heard, in primitive times Bs used to hunt for their food. Even up until now, there are people that keep them as hunting dogs.


Dogs in general like to hide things in the ground. Also, before customized bowls and cute dishes, Bs would dig holes to hold their food for them as they ate. Your B is a very particularly traditional type of dog if it still holds food in holes. Another reason could be you just have a dog that likes to hide bones.

hiking with a Basenji dog
Even though they are small, some Basenji dogs take to hiking and long walks

Temperature Regulation

So naturally, Bs get cold easily and they do not like it; which you may have noticed if you have one. Temperatures below 15°C are unbearable for them.

So, Basenjis that sleep outside dig up a hole just to cuddle themselves in and get warm in there.

Those that are inbred do not know how to open blankets -duh- they, however, shift whatever is around so as to cover themselves.

Other times it’s actually quite the opposite; Your B may just be looking for the cooling effect of the bare ground

To Give Birth

There have been cases here and there where Bs dug holes in order to give birth. Sometimes it’s through their need for privacy, other times it’s a way of protecting their puppies from possible danger.

As dangerous as it sounds for your Basenji to give birth in a hole in the dirt, it’s usually quite safe for them to do so. There is, however, the possibility of your puppies getting worms.

So in the case of an “underground birthing” please do take both mummy and the puppies for a quick check-up at the vet.

For Comfort

Sometimes you may notice that your Basenji is very unsettled and fussy. This also causes it to scratch and dig especially on flat surfaces, be it the floor, couch, or mattress. They do this in order to get a rigid relaxing place.

As a Challenge

As I told you earlier that Basenjis used to be hunters, but they still have that adventurous side to them; the need for a challenge.

If you live in a fenced area you may notice that at times your B digs a bit too close to the fence.

Sometimes they may even succeed and make a little escape hole. They are quite the astute escape artists.

patting a Basenji on the head
Patting a happy red and white Basenji


Most times Basenjis are not dogs you can leave alone. They are very independent which in turn makes them very destructive.

Even though it is largely suppressed Bs still have an aggressive side to them. The same aggression they use/ used for hunting. It doesn’t normally come out unless provoked.

Does it Stop on its Own?

This is a very rare occurrence and may most likely not happen with your B. If it does, it will be due to your Basenji’s age as they do leave some traits when ageing. This shouldn’t discourage you because just like I said there may be ways and measures you can take to stop it.

How to Stop a Basenji from Digging.

Physical Exercise

As you can imagine, a B does tend to get restless. Since it is a hunter at its core some strenuous exercise can do it a lot of good.

I hope this does bring a new meaning to your playtime. It’s an added advantage if you have a yard for it to run around or you stay close to a dog park.

Alternatively, you can take it on a walk of 30 minutes or more

Keep Them Distracted

Since we’ve already established that your B is intelligent you should pay close attention to what they like; Other than the digging that is J.

Buy a toy that is suitable for your B’s character. Teach them how to play fetch and if all else fails, mark or make a digging spot for your Basenji.

Train Your B

Just as most dogs are trained young, your Basenji needs that too. You know the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” right?

Here are a few effective ways to train your Basenji.

  • Be firm in telling them to STOP or No.
  • Assert yourself when you’re displeased.
  • Positive enforcement of what or when they do good.
  • Teach them to only use the permanent digging place by burying the things (toys, bones, treats) they normally hide.
training a tricolor Basenji puppy
In the process of training a tricolor Basenji puppy

Digging Area for your Basenji

A digging pit is often the most effective way of focusing your Basenji’s digging habit. You can outline it with bricks or wood, better yet get creative and use a calm shell normally used by toddlers as pools/ sandpits.


Digging comes naturally to dogs and it’s a fun activity for them. However, a bit too much digging that destroys furniture, gardens and the yard requires some attention.