If you have a digging doggie, you know how their antics can destroy your yard. Not only that but digging underneath a fence provides an escape route where they can get lost or worse. Contrary to popular belief, however, your pup is not digging to find the best route to freedom. There are several different reasons why your dog may be exhibiting this behavior.
If your pet spends a considerable amount of time in the backyard, their digging exercise could be due to boredom. They probably don’t have enough stimulation or interaction with you. Their solution is to pass the time by digging holes in different spots.
Hunting is another reason why your pet is digging in your yard. If they can detect small animals burrowing under the earth, they will go to work finding the most direct route to reach them. This is especially true if you notice multiple holes, or see your dog watching the hole carefully for signs of movement.
While dogs may chew and become destructive indoors while they are anxious, they can also show the same behavior outside. Unlike indoor anxiety, there may not be a lot for them to gnaw on outside, so they will resort to digging to relieve their stress.
If your dog digs holes to lay in them, this could be a sign that they are uncomfortable. Your pooch will create a cool space when it is too hot by digging into the cool earth. On the other hand, if they are too cold, they will also create a barrier between themselves and the wind.
In some cases, your pup may be trying to escape. As we mentioned, however, it is not to just roam the streets. Instead, there is usually a specific purpose behind their tunneling. Typically, it is one of two things. First, they smell a mate that they would like to get to know better. Two, they see another animal they wish to hunt.
Finally, some dogs have an inherent need to dig. They may do so without any of the triggers above, and simply paddle away at the dirt because their instincts are telling them to dig, dig, and dig some more.
Regardless of the why, tunneling under your fence is never a good scenario. In the best case, you can catch your pup right away. In other circumstances, much, MUCH worse outcomes are possible.
To help keep your pup secure in your yard, and to keep you from spending a fortune on landscaping, we have provided you with some simple ways to keep your dog from digging under your fence. These solutions vary between implementing physical barriers to using behavioural strategies to keep your pal from tunneling.
1. Build Your Fence Up and Down
The first solution is a no brainer, but not always the most practical option. Many fences, including chain links and wooden slats, can be installed deeper in the earth to prevent your pet from tunneling underneath. We recommend the fence be built at least three feet under for greatest effectiveness. Unfortunately, if you already have a perfectly good fence in place, this can be a costly solution that brings us to our next option…
Compared to installing a new fence, this is a fairly inexpensive way to keep your dog from finding an escape route. An L-footer is mesh wire in the shape of an L. You push the mesh up against the base of your fence and cover the bottom portion with dirt and rocks. This way, when your pup goes in for the dig, they will not be able to get through. Keep in mind, however, to securely attach the ends to the fence. Enterprising pups have been known to pull the footer off if it is loose.
3. More Walks & Attention
Our next option is a behavioral solution if you think your pup is digging out of boredom. Taking your pup for longer walks, or two shorter walks per day can curb their boredom. It will keep them from finding other ways to occupy their time—like digging.
This next simple solution walks hand-in-hand with our last one. A great way to keep your pet from tunneling under the fence is by using a distraction. Filling your yard with toys and other mental and physical stimulators will keep their focus away from the fence. Even a ball and a bone can have a big impact.
5. Alternative Dig Spaces
This is another form of distraction but tends to work better on those pups with an instinct to dig. Building a “dig pit” for your pooch will give them a safe place to get their urges out. You can build one yourself inexpensively, plus it will direct their paddling to a place of your choosing; not to mention keep them safe.
6. Second Fencing
A popular option for keeping your pet insight is by installing a second fencing system. This is typically a smaller fence that runs the perimeter of your existing fence. Usually made of iron, it is made to be the height of your pooch and spaced evenly at a smaller width than your pet. Placed around your fence, your pup will not be able to slip through the bars to dig.
7. Fill Gaps
One reason that dogs dig under the fence is because they can see something that they want on the other side. Filling the gaps in your fence will eliminate the visual stimulation that urges them to try and get free of the back yard.
Another simple tactic is placing large size rocks around your fence. Not only will this keep your pet from trying to tunnel out, but it can help with the above issues as well. This is especially true if you can get your hands on stones that are as tall as your pup.
9. Deterrent Spray
There are many different deterrent sprays on the market you can try. Unfortunately, not only do some of them not work, but not all dogs are receptive to this. If you already use a spray that works, try spraying it around your fence and in the areas your pet likes to dig. Also, you can try a DIY spray by sprinkling pepper or tabasco sauce around their digging area, as well. You will know pretty quickly whether this works or not.
10. Positive Reinforcement
Another behavioral solution is to use positive reinforcement. Depending on the reason behind the digging, this can potentially take a considerable amount of time. Try using a bell or jar of pennies to create sound while your pet is digging. If they back away, give them a treat for stopping but be sure to create the noise again as soon as they go back to it. Keep in mind, this may not work with all dogs.
11. Invisible Fencing
Invisible fencing is another way to go if you do not want to have any fencing in your yard. In this case, a wire transmitter is buried in the ground along the perimeter of your choosing. Your pet will wear a collar that receives a signal when they approach the fence. The collar will emit either a light shock or high-pitched sound. While some pet parents are not fond of this type of collar, it also may not keep them from digging in other spots.
Like the rocks, planting shrubs and bushes around your fence can also deter your pup from trying to tunnel under your fence. Strategic landscaping can also prevent your pet from spotting other dogs or animals they wish to chase.
13. Double Fencing
Though it can be more expensive, installing a second fence inside the first is a good way to keep your pet safe. Even if they can tunnel through, they will still face another barrier before they can get to the great, wide world.
Like the double fence solution, you can also create a playpen or gated area for your dog. In this case, instead of running a second fence around the perimeter, you can create a smaller space within your yard that your pooch can play. Not only is it less expensive, but you can also create the fence to be shorter, and in the location of your choosing.
Last but not least, the best way to keep your pet from tunneling under your fence is by being vigilant and supervising your pal while they are outside. Also, it is important to note that your pup is less likely to dig at all while you are there to oversee them. As they are more focused on you, they are not as bored, anxious, or easily distracted.
Regardless of whether your dog is digging out of boredom or because they have spotted something curious on the other side of the fence, keeping your pal securely in your yard is the best way to keep them safe and healthy. We hope you have enjoyed these simple and efficient ways to protect your pet and fence from harm.
Featured Image Credit: Image Credit: Georgy, Adobe Stock
Emily started this blog out of pure passion. She LOVES her 3 dogs; Chew Barka, Cooper & Nelson, and spends countless hours every day playing with them.
When she’s not nerding out on dogs, you’ll find her on a snowboard or in the kitchen baking chocolate brownies.
She’s been featured in PetAware, Dogtime, and ModernDog.
- 1. Build Your Fence Up and Down
- 2. Install An L-Footer
- 3. More Walks & Attention
- 4. Distraction
- 5. Alternative Dig Spaces
- 6. Second Fencing
- 7. Fill Gaps
- 8. Rocks
- 9. Deterrent Spray
- 10. Positive Reinforcement
- 11. Invisible Fencing
- 12. Landscaping
- 13. Double Fencing
- 14. Playpens
- 15. Vigilance