Do you have an escape artist dog at home?
If so, we understand how challenging and frustrating it can be to ensure that your furball stays safe and secure in the yard, even when you are not around.
Fortunately, if you pack plenty of patience and explore the root cause of your dog’s Houdini act, you can likely ramp up your defenses and prevent him from digging under the fence in the yard.
Before we highlight some actionable strategies for keeping your dog contained in the yard, we’ll show you what not to do.
Things to Avoid If You Want to Stop Your Dog Digging Under a Fence
Here are some strategies that are inadvisable if you’re looking to prevent a dog from digging:
- Never use materials that might harm your dog: Avoid any poisons or aggressive chemical-based repellents. You should also steer clear of hard obstructions or sharp objects that could injure your pooch.
- Do not punish your dog long after an escape attempt: If you catch your dog in the act of pulling an escape act, you can reproach him and redirect his attention to a less destructive activity. That said, you should not scold your pup long after the actual digging incident. This will simply confuse your dog without delivering any positive benefits.
- Never leave your dog unsupervised and tethered in the yard: There are many ways to keep your dog in the yard without a fence. Tie-outs and tethers are among the many methods that work. While these forms of restraint act like a long leash when you are outside with your dog, if you leave Fido alone, he could get tangled up.
Why Do Dogs Dig Under Fences?
Most of the best methods of stopping canine digging involve prevention and positive reinforcement.
Before you start rolling out different strategies to stop this destructive behavior, you first need to work out why your dog is digging.
Some common reasons for dogs digging under a fence include:
- Digging is a natural instinct for the breed.
- Young and untrained dogs with bundles of energy.
- Separation anxiety in your absence.
- Desire to escape for various reasons.
- Craving companionship.
- Protective dogs who try to escape when they detect a perceived threat.
- Boredom and lack of stimulation.
- Mating urges.
- Hunting due to the prey drive of the breed.
- Anxiety or stress.
21 Ways to Stop Your Dog Digging Under Your Fence
If you have managed to establish why your dog is trying to dig his way under the fence in the yard, this will help you to determine how best to address the issue.
While all dogs are unique and everyone has different circumstances, there are nevertheless some simple strategies you can use to ensure your dog stays contained in the yard while still enjoying the freedom to roam and play. Here are 21 actionable methods of prevent dog digging:
1) Fill in any existing holes in the fence
You might find that your dog is being attracted to holes in the fence and he simply can’t resist poking his nose through and then trying to dig.
Fill any holes in the fence as soon as you notice them developing. If you find that parts of the fence become troublesome over time, consider covering these areas with some landscaping or some lawn fixtures to prevent the same issue from cropping up repeatedly.
2) Ensure that your dog’s environment is safe and appealing
Your initial assessment may have led you to believe that your dig is digging under the fence driven by the simple goal of escaping. If so, you can take steps to stop that from happening.
First and foremost, make sure that the outside area in which your dog plays is safe, appealing, and free of incentives to escape.
As we’ll mention below, you could consider spaying or neutering your dog if you are not planning to breed them. If this is not practical, read on for some simple ways to fight back against digging dogs.
3) Bury some chicken wire along the base of your fence
Try burying some chicken wire under the base of your fence. When you do this, roll the wire’s edges away from your yard.
4) Bury some rocks along the fence line
Another way to discourage your dog from digging is to bury some big rocks along the line of the fence.
Alternatively, consider anchoring a chain-link style fence at the base of the fence line. Leave this laying near the fence. Taking these steps will render it uncomfortable for your furry friend to stroll nearby.
A variation on this tactic is to bury the fence line a couple of feet below ground. That will make it more difficult for your pooch to dig down deep enough to escape.
5) Supervise your dog when he is playing outside
You may find that your dog requires more supervision when he is outside in the yard, especially if he is prone to digging and attempting to escape.
If you are a first-time dog owner, you might find it takes some time before you can fully trust your furball to roam outside unsupervised without making a break for it. Spend plenty of time interacting with your dog outside, then allow him to spend time outdoors alone while you still keep a close eye on him.
6) Always praise the good but ignore the bed when trying to discourage canine digging
You may determine that the root cause of your dog’s digging is a cry for attention. If so, this is easy to remedy, as long as you have the time. Take him for a walk twice daily and spend more time playing around with him.
Maybe you feel that you are already giving your pup more than enough attention. If so, you may want to switch to different methods of curbing his digging behaviors. You can start by ignoring any attention-seeking behaviors completely. This might initially prove challenging, but you’ll soon find it starts getting traction. When your dog behaves well, on the other hand, shower him with praise.
Using this strategy will show your dog the direct relationship between good behavior and praise. It will also teach him that behaving badly will not generate the anticipated results.
7) Make sure your dog is completely comfortable outside
Your pup might be digging under the fence in an attempt to find a cooler or warmer place to relax.
Everyone’s situation is unique, but you may find that an outdoor doggie house or a pet pool helps him to feel more comfortable when he’s outside of the house.
8) Meet the exercise needs of your dog
Some dogs may dig purely for entertainment, especially if they are not getting enough exercise for their needs.
When you’re choosing a dog, you should always make sure that you have the time, inclination, and energy levels to satisfy the exercise requirements of the breed in question.
Most breeds will benefit from twice-daily walks. You should also play with your dog. Try using some active toys such as frisbees.
If you are still noticing your dog digging under the fence, consult a dog trainer and then apply the techniques imparted to entertain your pup with different activities and tricks.
When you leave your dog in the yard unsupervised, leave some dog-friendly toys to occupy him. You might also consider leaving a doggie treat dispenser for him to take advantage of rather than trying to breach the boundaries.
9) Give your dog lots of enrichment
Perhaps your dog is digging under the fence because he is bored and can find nothing better to do.
Ensuring that your dog has lots of funs games and toys in the yard so he will have less inclination to wander.
Many breeds require just as much time devoted to mental stimulation as to physical exercise.
If you’re stuck for ideas, here are some popular canine enrichment activities:
- Playing nosework games.
- Using a ball launcher so your dog can play Fetch to his heart’s content.
- Installing some agility equipment or a canine obstacle course.
- Giving Fido a puzzle toy filled with treats.
- Shredding some cardboard or similar items.
Use these ideas as inspiration and make sure Rover is always mentally stimulated. This should reduce digging behaviors significantly.
10) Install a dedicated digging zone
If your dog is a breed with natural and ingrained digging instincts and you have tried various deterrents without any luck, it might be time to think about giving him the opportunity to dig safely in a secure area from which he will not breach the boundaries. This approach will provide your pup with an outlet for digging without any security risk.
Cover the dedicated digging area with a sandbox or some loose soil. Bury some toys in the dirt and let his natural instincts run wild. When your dog unearths these toys, reward him with treats and plenty of praise.
If you spot your pup digging in a prohibited area, use a firm and loud voice to tell him, “No dig!” Immediately remove your dog and take him to the digging zone. You should then praise your pooch for digging in the designated area.
Use some chicken wire or some large rocks to cover areas where you don’t want your dog digging. Once he becomes familiar with the digging zone, you can remove the makeshift barriers and restore your landscaping.
11) Try burying the bottom part of your fence
For pet parents who find their dogs digging under the fence, it is worth burying the bottom part of the panels. You can sink these panels at least a couple of feet below the ground to make sure that your furball doesn’t burrow under and out.
12) Pour some concrete at the base of your fence
However determined your dog might be, he won’t dig his way through concrete. If you pour a layer of concrete at the base of your fence, this should stop Spot in his tracks.
Although this is one of the more expensive options and it will alter the landscape of your yard, it is also one of the most effective strategies for countering canine digging.
13) Heap some gravel at the bottom of your fence
Dogs find it unpleasant and uncomfortable to dig through gravel. Try creating an upper layer of gravel along the base of your fence.
This is one of the quickest, easiest, and cheapest solutions to dogs digging under fences.
14) Fix some wire to the base of your fence
You could attach some chicken wire to the base of your fence, or you could bury some under the fence.
Alternatively, fix a strip of plastic fencing to the base of a DIY dog fence which will make it much more challenging for your dog to escape the yard.
15) Add some new landscaping features
If you’re still struggling to contain Fido, try getting creative with landscaping. You can place trees, plants, rocks, or gravel in the yard. All of this may discourage your dog from digging under the fence.
If you adopt this approach, be sure to choose doggie-friendly plants and shrubs. You should also invest some time into training your pup not to chow down on the new garden.
16) Humanely prevent burrowing animals from entering your yard
You may establish that your dog is digging under the fence to satisfy his hunting instincts. If so, you might want to take humane steps to prevent burrowing animals from entering your yard.
If you choose to utilize this approach, avoid any toxic substances, as these could be harmful to your dog, too.
To stave off rodents, try using a capsicum mixture. This should keep rodents at bay and curb your dog’s digging.
17) Use a canine-friendly digging deterrent
Some pet parents find that using dog-safe deterrent sprays is one way of stopping their furballs from going near the fence and digging their way under.
You should first test the spray on a small piece of the fence that’s less visible – you might find that the spray discolors the fence, so don’t go in heavy-handed and ruin the whole fence.
Pouring some diluted vinegar solution along the base of the fence may deter some breeds from digging. It’s a cheap and easy option and worth trying out.
18) Get rid of any sight lines
Your dog could be digging under the fence to track down prey. If this is the case, a privacy fence is a solid solution.
While a chain-link fence might look attractive and keep Rover contained, he will also enjoy a sight line to the neighborhood. Use landscaping and solid fences to eliminate direct sight lines into the outside world.
19) Spay or neuter your dog
You might establish that your furball is attempting to escape the yard for mating purposes. If so, you might want to get him neutered or spayed. This option will not be appropriate for all pet parents.
20) Check that your dog is not being spooked
Your ongoing assessment may reveal that your dog is trying to escape the yard out of fear. If so, you should try to locate the source of this worry, allowing your dog to relax and enjoy his time in the yard.
Watch your dog as he plays in the yard and try to establish whether there are any stimuli causing him to pull a Houdini act.
If this doesn’t yield dividends, you could try installing a dog camera so you can monitor your hand from a distance.
Your investigation may determine that your dog is suffering from separation anxiety. If this transpires, you will need to harness different strategies to deal with this. You should consult a trained pet trained behaviorist if you cannot get to the bottom of your dog’s fears.
21) Install an invisible fence
You can try using physical barriers and we have outlined many different options above.
If none of these prove successful, you might consider using an invisible dog fence. If you decide to take this approach, you’ll need to spend lots of time training your dog to respect the boundaries in place. If you successfully achieve this, you should put on end to your dog’s escapology acts.
Some pet parents choose to install an invisible fence, also known as a wireless fence, in combination with a physical barrier. This provides even more robust security and might be advisable for stubborn or willful dogs.
We hope that today’s bumper guide has given you plenty of inspiration if you were unsure how to stop your dogs from digging under the fence in the yard and escaping.
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