Training

How To Stop A Dog From Digging Under A Fence?

stop dog from digging
Written by Graeme Hall

Has your dog turned your beautifully landscaped garden into a pothole-ridden moonscape? Does it seem like your dog is trying to escape by digging under your fence? If this sounds like your dog, you’re not alone.

In fact, it’s pretty common but the good news is that stopping your dog digging under the fence and around your garden isn’t as complicated as you may think. The first thing you should know is that your dog isn’t doing this just to annoy you or to destroy your perfectly manicured lawn.

Even a well-trained dog can exhibit this problematic behavior, so what can be done?

Your dog is most likely digging due to a number of perfectly rational reasons, let’s take a look at some of the most common and a handful of solutions to stop your dog digging along with some clever ideas that you can do with your existing fences to stop the behavior!

Why is Your Dog Digging?

Before we jump to the ways to stop your dogs digging behavior, it’s probably best to understand why your dog is tunneling in your garden in the first place - prevention is better than the cure!

Most dog owners can actually solve the digging behavior once they can rule out the cause.

Boredom

Most of the time a digging dog simply boils down to plain and straightforward boredom. Yes, dogs become bored too, and when their boredom gets the better of them they’ll engage in destructive behavior.

This habit can be easily remedied by introducing some interactive dog toys or other activities to help cure their boredom.

Another reason why your dog is becoming bored could be to do with lack of exercise. All dogs need exercise and daily walks, if your dog isn’t allowed to release their built up energy and tension through regular walking and exercise the result can lead to destructive behaviors such as digging, trying to get out under the fence and even aggression towards you and other dogs.

A tired dog is far easier to manage - they have released their excess energy, they are happy, and you’re happy because your garden isn’t full of potholes and shredded plants.

Comfort or Protection

If your dog spends most of his time outside in the garden digging holes could be his way of trying to find protection from the weather or other ailments. For example, if it's too hot, digging a hole will provide your dog with some cool dirt to lay in and some much-needed shade from the sun.

This is completely normal and your dog’s natural instincts are kicking into gear. To stop your dog from digging up your lawn why not provide them with an area where they can dig without getting into trouble and reward your dog every time they use the designated zone?

Install an Invisible Fence

Escape

Another reason why your dog is digging under the fence is to simply get out! You might have the best dog play area in the neighborhood in your backyard but if your dog gets a whiff of another dog in heat, there’s nothing he won’t do to escape.

Hunting Instinct

Your dog might be the cutest, most loving dog in the world but deep down hidden in the genes they still have their hunting instincts and given the chance they love nothing more than hunting for other prey such as cats, rodents or even creatures and insects.

Your dog could be digging to try to reach other animals or they’re burrowing to get their paws on some insects or other critters in the soil.

Obviously, eradicating all insects from your garden will be almost impossible, and we don’t recommend that you use any harmful chemicals to kill those pesky critters, the last thing you want to do is poison your dog.

Distraction will be the best method to stop your dog from digging under the fence.

How to Keep Your Dog From Digging Under Fence

Now you have a better understanding of why your dog is digging let’s take a few minutes to discuss the ways you can stop this unwanted antisocial digging behavior.

Proper Supervision

We understand that you can’t babysit your dog 24/7 but keeping a close eye on your dog will reduce the unwanted digging behavior. Just a simple knock on a window from inside the house should be enough to alert your dog and stop the digging.

We have found that your pet won’t want to engage in any tunneling or digging if they know they’re being watched; dogs know when they are doing something they shouldn’t be doing and teaching your pup right from wrong has to be re-enforced from an early age.

Create A Dog Digging Zone

If you can’t stop your dog from digging no matter what you do, why not set aside a dedicated area in your garden where they are allowed to dig and teach them where that area is.

dog digging zone

A simple way to do this is to buy a child size sandbox which is readily available in big toy stores. To make digging in the dedicated area more appealing why not bury some of your dog’s favorite toys in the sand and reward them with praise and a treat once they unearth their buried treasure.

Adjust Existing Fences

If your tunneling dog is actually escaping from your garden it might be a good idea to adjust and fortify your fence into a “no dig dog fence”.

Some dog breeds are born with the urge to dig and stopping them might be a losing battle, so strengthening your existing fences may be the best line of defense.

There are many ways to strengthen your existing fencing, however, from our experience, these are three methods that have been proven to be effective against a digging dog.

L-Footer Fencing

L-Footer Fence

By far the best way to stop a dog digging is to add an L-footer to your existing fencing - it’s cheap and easy to do. It’s not as complicated as it may sound.

You add the chicken wire in an L shape along the bottom of your fence. As soon as your dog tries to dig under the fence, they’ll be greeted by a sturdy piece of chicken wire that’s guaranteed to thwarts their tunneling attempts.

Once The L-footers are securely in place, they can be hidden with rocks for additional security or buried underneath spoil and pants.

Reinforced Ground Fencing

Reinforced Ground Fencing

If DIY isn’t your thing and the thought of tackling those L-footers yourself seems like an impossible task why not opt for a pre-made “staple” to add to the bottom fence instead.

This dog digging deterrent comprises rows of upright rods that are spaced out and hammered into the ground along the bottom of the fence to stop even a determined dog from tunneling out.

You will have to find a local supplier as these are almost always fabricated to order and they’re not something you can easily find in your local pet store.

Try Using Rocks To Fortify Your Fence

If your budget is limited an easy way to eliminate a digging dog is to fortify your existing fencing with large rocks. If you have none to hand most garden centers sell large landscaping rocks which are budget-friendly and add to the aesthetic of your garden.

An even cheaper option would be to use cinder blocks (hollow blocks) often reserved for building. Sure, they won’t look as nice compared to the large landscaping rocks but they can be easily be painted or jazzed up in a number of ways - try adding soil into the center and turn them into planters.

Install an Invisible Fence

Yes, you heard me correctly an invisible fence.

This system is super easy to set up, isn’t that expensive when compared to other solutions and is extremely effective at stopping your dog from digging in areas you don’t want them to.

An invisible fence for dogs creates a boundary perimeter around your yard.

Once purchased, setup is as easy and depending on the brand of invisible fence you purchase you‘ll either bury a wire along the bottom of your fencing or knock small posts along the perimeter of your fence.

Once active your dog will quickly learn to keep away from your designated borderline. Every time they approach the invisible fence your dog will either get a light shock via a shock collar or the fence will emit a high-pitched sound which only your pet can hear.

Either one of these will be enough to discourage your dog from going near your fence, it might take a few days but your dog will soon learn to stay away.

A good option we recommend using is the SportDOG Brand In-Ground Fence System.

Dog Digging Deterrent

This method can be hit or miss and might not be effective for your dog, but it’s worth a try, and these home food items are readily available and cheap.

Try liberally sprinkling some black pepper or capsicum pepper along the bottom of your fencing, particularly in areas where your dog is prone to digging.

As simple as this sounds it can be extremely effective at deterring the most stubborn dog from making holes in your garden.

Add more along the perimeter of your fence every two to three weeks - if it’s effective your soon see a noticeable difference.

What is Not Going to Prevent Your Dog From Digging

We know how annoying a digging dog can be, there’s nothing worse than seeing your green-fingered efforts in the garden go to waste and replaced with holes and piles of dug up soil.

However, preventing a dog from digging is doable, it might take a bit of patience and time but that’s just part and parcel of training a dog. Sure, you will probably become frustrated and angry but never punish your dog.

Doing so can and most likely will make the digging behavior worse because it could motivate your dog to dig more due to fear or anxiety.

We understand that dog digging can be a frustrating problem, but it doesn’t need to be if you take on board a few of the above suggestions highlighted in this article. Remember, most of the time your dog is just being a dog and doing what they do naturally.


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About the author

Graeme Hall

Graeme is the founder of Doggytastic! which is where he blogs about dog training, health, nutrition and anything else related to keeping a dog happy and healthy. Want to know a little bit more? Make sure to check out his full bio.

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