How to Keep Dogs from Digging under Fence

How to stop dogs digging under the fence

If you own a dog, sooner or later you’re going to have to deal with the problem of how to keep dogs from digging under fence. This is one of the most common complaints pet owners have about their animals.

Dog half under the fence from hole that he dug

Maybe he just wants to go for a walk or play some fetch. Maybe he is looking for something to eat. Or maybe he wants to tunnel his way to freedom.

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The point is if your dog can get under your fence, he will and he probably will do so again and again. If the issue is not fixed, he may just become an escape artist.

Why do dogs dig under the fence

The first thing to do as dog owners to stop your dog from digging under the fence is to figure out why he might be digging. This may make the fix easier depending on the reason.

Here are a few of the most common reasons why they may be digging.

1. Hunger or Thirst

If your dog is simply hungry or thirsty, it’s going to be hard to convince him there is no food or water under the fence.

You can put out some dry kibble and plenty of water for him in a bowl somewhere close by. That may help keep him or her from trying to dig out if it already has what it needs.

2. Fear or Anxiety

If your dog is anxious or afraid, he will try almost anything to make the problem go away. If he is scared of the unknown or feels trapped, he will dig.

This normally is the case when it comes to Dogs And Fireworks.

If it is a case of fear or separation anxiety, try putting him in a well-enclosed area like a crate with some familiar smells such as one of your shirts you have worn.

Use a few treats along with some good old-fashioned praise to soothe his fears and remove the desire to escape. 

You can also try playing music or sound in the area to help calm the dog.

3. Bored

If your dog is bored it can lead to some very bad behavior like digging under the fence. To stop this from happening, give him interesting things to do that will keep his mind occupied and busy.

Obviously, make sure these activities are safe for him. You can also get a few toys or dog puzzles and place them in various spots around the yard. making sure he has plenty of things to do to keep him busy.

This mental stimulation may keep him or her from feeling trapped and thus remove the urge to dig. 

4. Too Much Energy

Dogs that have too much pinned-up energy tend to get into more trouble. Take him on a long walk or run to use up some of his excess energy before leaving him in the fence. 

You can also try playing some fetch or another game to burn off that energy before you leave your dog in the fenced yard. 

You can also try getting a playmate to help burn up some energy and make sure he has enough exercise.

5. Lonely

Did you know dogs get lonely too just like people?

Your dog may be trying to escape his loneliness by digging under the fence. If so, you can try getting him a friend.

Even if you do not want another pet, consider things like play dates with other dogs or sending him to doggy daycare.

If nothing else, you could visit your local animal shelter and make friends with some of the lonely animals there. You can volunteer to foster a dog while they are waiting to be adopted.

How to stop a dog digging under the fence

Now that we know why your dog may be trying to escape, we need to think about how to dog-proof a fence.

Other than trying the things we noted above, several effective methods exist to stop your dog from digging under the fence.

Always remember, the best way to deal with problematic behavior such as his digging habit is to prevent it from happening in the first place. This will give you the best chance of success.  

1. Electric Fence

One of the easiest and most effective is to put up an electric fence on the inside of your fence. If he touches the wire, he gets a slight zap.

A little zing really won’t hurt him but it will immediately stop him in his tracks and make him very uncomfortable.

For an electric fence to work the best, it should be placed at ground level about 6 inches or so from the bottom of the fence.

That way when they start sniffing an area to dig, they will get a little zap that will move them away from the fence.

However, this type of fence can only be used in areas where you have the power to run the wire. 

2. Use Invisible Fence Within Your Fence

Another effective way to keep your dog from digging under the fence is to use an invisible fence within your existing fence.

This type of fence is very similar to an electric fence except it uses an electronic collar. This type of collar has a small transmitter attached to the dog’s collar and a large receiver unit that sits on the inside of your fence.

If the dog leaves the marked area, the receiver detects the absence of a signal and gives a very low-intensity zap on the dog’s collar.

Place the invisible fence several feet away from the normal fence and it will keep your dog from digging out. 

I personally don’t recommend using invisible fences on their own because sometimes a dog can chase after something and run right through. Yes, they will get a little zap when they do, but when on the other side the zapping stops. 

Having a normal fence on the other side still keeps them in a safe area. It also keeps other dogs out of your yard whereas an invisible fence does not.

However, this is another option that only works if you are able to hook it to power.

3. Underground Chicken Wire or Other Wire

If you don’t want or can’t use an electric fence, another option is to lay some sort of wire, chain-link fence, or chicken wire underground. You want to start it at the base of the fence and go out about 2-3 feet. 

It needs to be flat or at a slope and not straight down like you would normally run wire. This is because if you just run it straight down, determined dogs will just keep digging deeper until he gets under the wire as well. 

When laying flat, he will hit the wire no matter where he digs and can’t just dig deeper.

When your dog starts digging, he will hit this wire and it will stop him immediately. Make sure the wire is buried deep enough so your dog can’t easily pull it up.

I suggest burying it about six to eight inches deep.

The idea is your dog won’t be able to dig down very far before hitting this obstacle.

4. Make a Designated Digging Zone

Sometimes your dog may be digging under the fence simply because he loves to dig and it is their natural behavior. If this is the case with your dog, a great way to fix it is to try making a designated digging pit that encourages your dog to dig in that area only.

This is done by digging a small hole (1-2 feet) that is about 3 or 4 inches deep. Then place a bone, toy, or another intriguing object that is safe for your dog.

Then cover it with something like woodchips, sand, or loose soil. As he digs around the edge of the digging area, he will naturally keep going deeper and deeper until he finds the prize. 

When you have a digging spot it allows him to burn off that digging energy safely and keeps him in the yard.

5. Use Bushes & Large Rocks

You can also possibly avoid having your dog dig under the bottom of the fence line by hiding it with a physical barrier. This can be done by placing large rocks at the bottom of the fence. 

If you do not have rocks available to you, you can also use cinder blocks.

Another great idea is to plant dog-friendly plants or dog-friendly bushes to help hide the fence.

Things You Should Never Do When Your Dog Digs Under The Fence

Now that we know what to do if your dog starts digging under the fence, here are a few things you should never do.

It is important to remember these things so you don’t make them worse. Never punish your dog after he has dug under the fence.

Dogs will not put two and two together as to what the punishment is for. Instead, simply try some of our suggestions to correct the issue.

Do not try to stop him from digging with a stick or other object either. This could easily turn into a fight and could cause you or your neighbor to get hurt. 

When All Else Fails

When you have tried everything we have talked about and nothing works to stop your digging dog, the last thing to do is get a dog sitter when you can not be around or send them to doggy daycare.

No, it may not correct your dog’s digging behavior, but you will not have to worry about what your dog is doing when you are away.

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