Everyone knows that a dog needs access to a backyard to exercise, play, burn off pent-up energy, and go to the bathroom.
Problem is, dog owners need to prevent their dogs from escaping their backyard by fitting a suitably strong fence.
How often do you hear about dog owners who have their pets digging holes under fences or other barriers?
This problem is unfortunately common regardless of where you live. If you want to prevent your pet from digging under fences, here are some things you should consider.
Dogs dig holes for various reasons. Some are looking for shelter, others are searching for food, and some are simply bored.
Regardless of the reason, digging holes can cause serious problems for both you and your pet.
Digging holes can cause damage to your property, such as broken windows, doors, and foundations. Your pet can also get hurt or even die if he digs too deep.
Digging holes can also pose a danger to your pet if they encounter something harmful.
To keep your dog safe and protect the quality of your backyard and fence, here’s our guide on how to keep dogs from digging under fence!
Why Your Dog Is Digging Under Fence
To stop your dog from digging under your fence, we might first look at the reasons why your furry friend is adamant about digging.
In most cases, the main reason why dogs dig under fences is because they are bored. They might be lacking in exercise and mental stimulation, or it might be a sign that your backyard is too small.
Digging holes under fences isn’t always because your dog wants to escape, however. They might simply be doing it to get some attention from their owners. Digging is also a good way to relieve boredom.
Someone Is In Heat
When a female dog is in heat, her scent can be identified by the male dogs in the surrounding area.
This means that if your female dog is digging a hole under a fence, chances are she’s looking to have some quality time with the male dog next door.
Alternatively, if your male dog is digging, he might be smelling the luring scents of a nearby female dog in heat.
This is why fences need to be equipped to keep dogs separated, because you don’t want to be responsible for an accidental litter of puppies.
A common symptom of anxiety in dogs is destructive behavior. When indoors, they might tear apart toys and destroy furniture.
When outdoors, it’s common for dogs to dig holes near or under fences. Digging is the best way to relieve their stress and anxiety.
All dogs have a natural hunting instinct (some more than others), so a backyard fence isn’t going to stop them from chasing a cat, rodent, bird, or even a burrowing animal.
If you get moles or groundhogs in your backyard, your dog might start digging holes to try and catch them.
Dogs don’t do well in the heat, so if you’ve left your dog in the backyard “to get some fresh air”, you might want to think again.
Your dog might start to dig a hole near or under a fence to make use of the cooler soil.
On the flip side, if the weather is too cold or windy, they might be digging a hole as a form of protection against the elements.
They’re Copying You
While this might sound like a joke, some dogs are genuinely intelligent enough to copy your actions in the garden.
This means that if you find your dog mostly digs holes under a fence when you are gardening (for example, preparing the beds for seeds and bulbs), it might be because they are mimicking your digging actions.
Unfortunately, it is common for dogs to dig holes under a fence in an attempt to escape.
This is usually with a justified reason (on their behalf, at least), such as seeking a nearby dog to mate or to chase another animal. Escaping can also be a sign of boredom and restlessness.
12 Tips To Stop Dogs From Digging Under Your Fence
1. Keep Your Dog Distracted
Prevention is key when it comes to keeping your dogs from digging under a fence.
If we consider the majority of reasons why your dog might be digging include anxiety and boredom, you need to make efforts to prevent them from becoming destructive as a result of these feelings.
For example, walk your dog once or twice a day and commit to providing them attention through play. This is key in younger dogs and puppies, who are most likely to dig a hole under a fence.
We recommend keeping toys and activities in your backyard to provide some mental and physical stimulation.
2. Limit Bathroom Time
If you notice your dog only seems to dig holes after they’ve peed or pooped, then try to limit their bathroom time as much as possible. Once they’ve done their business, try to encourage them back inside.
Not only will this improve recall training, but it will also encourage your dog to associate the backyard with peeing or pooping rather than digging holes and causing a mess.
3. Make A Designated Digging Space
Digging is totally natural for dogs, so instead of limiting them from digging at all, give them a designated digging area. This only really works for medium to large backyards that can offer such a space, however.
Dig pits can be easily made by yourself and can be filled with sand or soil depending on your preference. This can provide a safe space for your dog to relieve their instinctual urges and stress by digging without limits.
The best way to utilize a digging space is by turning your dog to it when it starts to dig under a fence.
4. Positive Reinforcement
Dogs thrive off positive reinforcement, so instead of scolding them every time they dig a hole under your fence, distracting them with something positive might prevent them from digging again in the future.
However, keep in mind that this might not work for all dogs, as some might see right through your efforts. They might even associate digging holes with positive reinforcement.
One way to do this is by shaking a tin of dog treats and calling their name. Most dogs will run to the treats straight away.
Only give them a treat when they come to you and complete a command such as sitting. Then, continue to use this sound whenever they start to dig.
5. Build The Right Fence
If you’re looking to prevent your dog from digging under your future backyard fence, make sure to build a fence that can be installed deep into the ground.
Most fences offer this, such as wooden slats and chain fences. You’ll only need to install the fences around 3 feet into the ground.
However, if you have a good-quality fence already installed, it can be a costly and time-consuming process to replace it.
6. Build A Second Fence
If you have a perfectly good fence that is not installed deep into the ground, then consider building a second, smaller fence. These fences are generally smaller than the original fence and create an extra barrier.
It’s common for a second protective fence to be made of iron and reach the height of your dog’s shoulders.
While it won’t be the most aesthetically pleasing option for your backyard, it should make it harder for them to dig through to the main fence.
7. Strategic Landscaping
If you want to keep your backyard looking attractive and neat, you can always place strategic landscaping around the perimeter of the fence.
This includes planting and placing shrubs, flowers, rocks, bushes, and even a tree or two.
However, the only downside to strategic landscaping is that your dog might still try to dig a hole under the fence, causing shrubs and flowers to fly behind them.
If your dog is particularly stubborn and you don’t want to waste your time planting flowers that will be ultimately destroyed, opt for placing rocks there instead.
Make sure that the rocks are fairly large and partially buried, as this will make it harder for your dogs to try and dig them up.
8. Fill Gaps
When a dog sees a potential hole, dip, or gap in the fence, they can often be encouraged to continue digging it. This is because the gap indicates that an animal had previously been digging.
Filling in these gaps will prevent the visual stimulation that would otherwise encourage them to continue digging.
9. Install L-Footer Wire
Replacing a fence can be an arduous and expensive task. If your fence isn’t installed into the ground, you can always install an L-footer fence.
L-footers are essentially mesh wiring fences in the shape of an L that attaches to the bottom of a fence. This creates a barrier that is difficult for dogs to dig into.
The only downside to L-foot fences is that particularly mischievous dogs might learn how to rip off poorly secured wiring, rendering the protective fence useless.
Dogs require supervision and discipline for a number of reasons, including when they dig holes under fences.
When dogs get into the habit of doing something repeatedly, it can be hard to stop that habit from happening.
Instead, it’s important to supervise your dog in the backyard and discipline them when necessary if they start to dig a hole.
The key is to be vigilant and firm until they realize that digging holes in that part of the garden is not allowed.
11. Invisible Fencing
While not a preferred method, you can always turn to invisible fencing as a last resort. Invisible fences consist of an underground wire transmitter that can be placed around the perimeter of a fence.
This is matched with a collar worn by your dog, which will send a light shock or sound when they get too close to the wire transmitter.
In theory, this will work to prevent them from going near the fence completely, as well as stopping them from digging there.
However, this isn’t a preferred method above the others on our list, as it can cause anxiety, stress, fear, and aggression in your dog.
12. Use A Deterrent
It is believed that dogs will actively avoid an area that is riddled with an unpleasant scent.
However, as most dogs are pretty disgusting creatures that will happily sniff animal feces, finding the right type of scent deterrent can be tricky.
There are some dog-friendly deterrent sprays that can be sprayed around the perimeter of a fence, however, these might not work for all dogs.
Some owners have sprinkled Tabasco sauce or black pepper around fences, but it mostly comes down to trial and error.
If you want to try using deterrent scents, look for one that is safe for dogs to consume (if they do choose to eat/lick it) and one that is safe for your garden. You don’t want the nearby plants, flowers, and grass to suffer!
13. Keep Them Away
Sometimes, it’s just far easier to keep your dog as far away from the fence as possible. They don’t have to be in the backyard at all times, after all.
Instead, distract them by playing with them indoors, or take them on longer walks when they start to become destructive from restlessness.
Alternatively, keep them in the backyard as usual and make sure to reprimand them whenever they start to dig a hole under the fence.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, this guide will have given you some inspiration on how to keep dogs from digging under fences.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to understanding what your dog is trying to communicate with their destructive behavior.
In a lot of cases, digging under a fence is a sign of anxiety, stress, and boredom. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to replace your fence – it just means you need to find ways to distract your dog.