So, you’ve got a beautiful yard for your dog, except he’s decided to dig under the fence and explore the neighbor’s yard instead. Need help controlling your digging dog? Here’s what you’ll need to know about why dogs dig, how to condition the behavior, and how to reinforce the fence to prevent escapes!
If you want to stop your dog from digging under the fence, you need to take a two-pronged approach: understand why your pooch is digging and re-condition the behavior to a safer and better one! By addressing both of these issues (rather than one or the other), you’ll be able to make his fence digging days long gone!
Why is my dog digging under the fence?
The first thing to do is understand why he is digging under the fence in the first place. One reason is that he’s just a digger. Certain dog breeds (such as terriers) absolutely love to dig and they’re biologically hardwired to do it. In these cases, proper protection is important! However, just about any dog breed will dig if he’s got one (or more) of the following reasons.
Many smart and social dogs get bored very easily. If you’ve got one of those dogs, you’ll want to make sure that he’s got lots to do. This includes things around the yard that he can check out, but also toys. Outdoor toys are perfect for helping him entertain himself. You should also go out with him when he wants to go out so that you can entertain him, too. Not only is it a great bonding activity, but he’ll also learn that he doesn’t need to escape to have fun!
He may also be bored as far as playmates. If you can’t or don’t go out with him when he’s outside, he may get lonely and decide to go visit the neighbor’s yard in search of entertainment. If you’ve got two dogs, let them out at the same time so that they can have fun with each other and keep each other occupied. If you’ve just got the one, you’ll have to substitute for a playmate (such a shame)! If your pooch sees another doggo across the fence (or somewhere else close by), he’ll dig under and go visit for some entertainment!
Also, a dog could be bored as far as exercise goes. If you don’t take him for regular walks or he has to walk slowly and can’t stretch or run, he’ll get restless enough to want to dig under the fence and escape so that he can run out his energy.
They’re copying you when you are gardening
Sounds like something you only hear about in the movies, right? Well, it’s true! Doggos that are intelligent and especially in-tune with you will want to copy what you’re doing. If you are gardening (especially in the ground, rather than raised beds), they’ll want to help you by copying and digging some holes for you!
Trying to escape
You’ve probably figured out this one, but escape is a common reason for a doggo to dig under the fence. He wants to escape to go meet a friend, sniff some new butts — erm, smells — or just get away for a little bit. Make sure that your yard has interesting toys, lots of access to shade, and all sorts of goodies to keep your doggo safe and secure as well as enjoying his outdoor space.
How to stop a dog from digging under the fence
Okay, so now that you know all about why your doggo may be making a break for it under the fence, you’ll want to learn how to keep him within the fence itself! These tips will help manage even the most determined digger.
Partially bury large rocks at the base of the fence
Dogs can’t dig if they can’t access the fence! Either along the entire fence line or just in those spots where he’s known for digging, partially bury some large rocks as thickly as you can right along the fence line. While he may pick at them for a while after you do it, he’ll eventually learn that it’s useless and will start digging up your garden instead — yay?
Put the fence down into the ground
If you don’t like the idea of the rocks, consider digging out your fence line (yes, really) and then burying the fence itself into the ground so that all he gets when he digs down several feet is more fence. You’ll still want to make sure that your fence is tall enough to keep him from jumping over (more on that later) after this, however, so be careful!
Add chicken wire
Chicken wire is great for stopping dogs from digging under the fence. It should be buried under the fence itself and there should be no gaps between the fence and the chicken wire. If you do decide to go this route, make sure you get the right gauge wire and that you roll it so that the sharp edges of it are facing out (to prevent your pooch from hurting his paws).
Help understand what your dog needs
From more toys to more bonding time, to shelter from the elements (especially if you leave him alone outside while you are at work), you need to understand just what your pooch is looking for when he is trying to dig out from under the fence in the first place. Try adding in a dog house, complete with water and a bed. It may stop him fro digging because he’s already pampered at home!
Make a designated digging zone
If you’ve got a digger that just will not stop digging, then you should admit defeat and make him a designated digging zone! Basically, a giant sandbox that gives him plenty of obstacles and places to dig, you will have to show your doggo that he can dig to his heart’s content within the confines of the digging zone, but not outside of it. Make sure you help him understand the digging zone by making clear boundaries all the way around the spot itself (ie: don’t just pick a part of the garden and throw some sand and soil in it).
How to dig proof a fence
If you’re set on keeping your fence line as normal and unmodified as possible, there are a few other options that you can consider to keep your dog from digging under it.
This is one of the repellent sprays that you can buy for your dog and it’s great for those that are stubborn at first, even with their own designated digging spray. With a harsh scent that dogs hate, spraying this along both the fence line and the soil around it will discourage them from digging there. You’ll need to reapply this every few weeks, but after a while, your pooch will lose interest and you can stop.
This kind of spray is better than using vinegar, a popular natural alternative, as the scent isn’t often strong enough to deter all dogs and it all fades much faster. You’ll also need a lot more of it which can add up in a hurry.
Pepper and chili powder
If you want to take a more culinary approach, you can look at the idea of using black and/or chili pepper on the fence line. You’d just sprinkle a healthy amount on the ground and fence along with those same areas. Dogs dislike both of these scents, so they’re great if you’ve got some extra stuff kicking around that’s expired!
Dog’s poop on territory line
Still looking for something different? Try dog poop. No, seriously. If you take your dog’s droppings and lay them out strategically along the fence line, he’ll be deterred from digging because he sees it as the property line. You’ll want to switch out old poop for fresh poop, too, especially if you notice him starting to dig again! While this is certainly not a savory way to enjoy the protection of your fence, it certainly is different!
What kind of fence is best for diggers?
If you have yet to build a fence for your new pooch, you can also take a look at some great tips to help you build the perfect fence for your digging doggo! Regardless of dog breed, here are some details to consider to keep your dog inside your fence line!
Get a high and solid one
Chain link fences are all about visibility. Since your pooch can see what’s got on next door — which always looks better to him — he’ll want to go and visit and see it for himself. A solid one, instead, with no gaps or slats will prevent him from seeing or smelling what is so exciting and it may even deter him from digging since nothing is interesting about it.
Consider lean in toppers
If you need to go with a chainlink fence for one reason or another, get a few toppers that lean in. They shouldn’t be spiked or made to be harmful, of course, but these toppers will prevent your pooch from jumping over your fence if he decides to climb the chainlink (dogs are smart and know that one his easier than under) in some cases. This is especially the case if you’ve got a dog breed that loves to jump!
Choose vinyl or iron
Whether he goes over or under, try to go with a sturdy fence material such as vinyl or iron. It won’t degrade over time from the weather and, it’s harder for your pooch to get a grip if he decides to go over (unlike porous wood or chain links).
Whether it’s neighborhood restrictions or just a matter of preference, you may be stuck with no having a fence that you can trust (such as a low fence or a hedge fence, for instance). If this is the case, consider an invisible fence. This is an attachment on their collar in which you will design a parameter for your pooch and he will only be able to stay within that perimeter.
Whenever your dog goes outside of the perimeter, there will be a high and irritating noise that will quickly usher him back in to get the noise to stop. While you can get similar options that shock your pooch instead, we recommend the noise-based ones, as the shock can make them fearful and aggressive instead of compliant!
My neighbor’s dog is digging under my fence, what should I do?
Maybe your doggo is fine, but your neighbor’s dog is insisting on coming for unsupervised visits. This is irritating and rather alarming if you happen to glance out and see two wagging tails instead of one in your yard! Here are some tips to keep your yard as private as possible for your pooch to reign over his own kingdom.
Talk to your neighbor
We know, we know! But, if you alert your neighbor to the problem (especially if you keep it friendly), they’ll often do what they can to help make it stop. Be sure to only give them suggestions to help prevent it if they ask for your help! There’s nothing worse than a neighbor taking on the persona of a know-it-all, no matter how good your intentions may be.
Send their dog back through the fence and block it
If they aren’t friendly or making moves to fix it, feel free to (safely and from a distance) drive the neighbor’s dog back through the fence. Once that is done, you can follow those above tips on your side to help keep him out. Perhaps a frustrating amount of work, but it’s better than having a tunnel between your yards, right?
Call in help
If you are struggling with keeping him out, or the other dog and/or his pet parent is/are aggressive, call in help from the neighborhood committee or local police. You owe it to your loved ones and your pooch to keep everyone safe, after all.
Dogs love to dig, but you don’t have to let them dig wherever, whenever! These tips will help you get to the bottom of it so that your yard stays secure, entertaining for your pooch, and mess-free!