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How Do You Keep Dogs From Digging Under the Fence?

Dog digging is 100% unpleasant for all owners! But don’t worry! This blog post is your ultimate guide to understanding why your four-legged friend turns into a mini excavator and, more importantly, answers the question: how do you keep dogs from digging under the fence? So, grab a coffee and explore the best ways to fix your dog’s behavior problems!

Why do dogs dig holes under the fence?

I understand how frustrating and concerning it can be when your four-legged friend starts digging under the fence. Remember that it is a symptom, not the root cause. So, knowing the reason behind your dog’s behavior is crucial for addressing it effectively. Here are some of the most common reasons:

1. Escape

how do you keep dogs from digging under the fence

This is probably the top contender. Your dog might be craving adventure, seeking companionship with other dogs, or simply trying to avoid something they dislike in the yard, like loud noises or an unfriendly neighbor’s pet.

2. Boredom

Just like us, dogs get bored, too! If their environment lacks mental stimulation, playtime, or interesting toys, digging becomes a way to entertain themselves. This is especially true for young, energetic breeds with a strong prey drive.

3. Prey drive

Scenting a delicious rodent or curious critter on the other side of the fence can trigger a dog’s natural hunting instincts. They might dig to reach their quarry or simply out of excitement from the chase.

4. Anxiety

Separation anxiety, fear of loud noises, or even general stress might manifest in digging behavior. Digging can be a self-soothing mechanism for anxious dogs, giving them a sense of control or a temporary escape from their worries.

5. Comfort

On a hot day, digging a cool hole to lie in is an attractive option for your dog. Similarly, some canines instinctively dig to create burrows for shelter from the elements, like wind or rain.

6. Breed traits

Certain breeds, like Terriers and Dachshunds, have been bred for digging. This natural instinct might surface even in a well-adjusted dog, making them more prone to digging under fences.

7. Medical issues

In rare cases, digging can be a symptom of underlying medical conditions. If you suspect a medical cause, consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis immediately.

How do you keep dogs from digging under the fence?

Tip #1: Provide sufficient exercise

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A tired pup is a less diggy pup! But let’s turn this tip into a real action plan. First, figure out your dog’s ideal exercise needs. Consider breed, age, and activity level. Be sure to take them for a walk at least once a day. 

Mental stimulation is crucial, too! Puzzle toys, treat-dispensing games, and even learning new tricks can be just as tiring as physical exertion. Plus, it strengthens your bond and provides much-needed brainpower exercise. You’ll see a drastic reduction in fence-side burrowing by channeling their digging instincts into these positive activities. Your fences will thank you for it!

Tip #2: Create a dog-friendly yard

Let’s transform your yard into a doggy wonderland and say goodbye to fence digging! Carve out a dedicated “dig zone” in an out-of-the-way corner. Think of the sandbox idea: fill a spacious area with loose, fluffy soil or play sand. Bury treats and toys within, turning it into a treasure trove just waiting to be unearthed.

The key here is training. When you catch your furry friend scratching at the fence, gently redirect them to their personal dig pit. Offer enthusiastic praise and a hidden reward every time they channel their instincts in the right direction. The more you reinforce this positive behavior, the less appealing that forbidden fence line becomes.

Tip #3: Secure the bottom of the fence

Grab some sturdy chicken wire or hardware cloth – the sturdier, the better. Now, picture a trench running along the base of your fence. Dig it deep, about a foot or more, so even the most determined digger feels like they’ve hit bedrock. 

Lay the wire mesh flat in the trench, ensuring it extends a few inches beyond the fence posts on both sides. Secure it with sturdy staples or landscape pins to prevent any sneaky paw-pulls. Finally, fill the trench back in, packing the soil firmly. Voila! You’ve created an invisible wall that’ll have your dog scratching their head. Remember, chicken wire with smaller mesh holes is ideal, and overlapping the mesh at the ends adds extra security. 

Tip #4: Use digging deterrents

Here’s another cool hack to prevent your dog from digging in your backyard. Grab some aromatic oranges or grapefruits from your kitchen. Cut the peels into strips and scatter them like tiny landmines along the base of the fence. The strong citrus scent is naturally unpleasant to your canine companion, creating an invisible barrier against their burrowing instincts.

Alternatively, you can level up by choosing specially formulated digging deterrents from pet stores. They usually have a bitter or spicy taste that discourages chewing and digging. Don’t forget to reapply these deterrents after rain or heavy watering to maintain potency. With a little strategic scent warfare, you can turn your fence into a dig-free zone!

Tip #5: Supervise and redirect

Supervision is your secret weapon against fence-digging Fidos. But instead of just yelling “No!”, turn it into a positive redirection game. Watch for signs like pawing or sniffing at the fence base. When you see it, clap your hands or make a loud noise to interrupt their digging frenzy. Then, have a favorite toy, ball, or tug rope nearby and instantly redirect their attention towards playtime. Praise them lavishly when they engage with the toy, making it more appealing than the forbidden fence. 

The quicker you catch and redirect, the faster they learn that digging equals playtime, not escape tunnels. Soon, just seeing you approach the yard will be enough to send them sprinting toward their favorite toy, leaving your fence safe and sound.

Tip #6: Train basic commands

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Imagine this scenario: your dog is going crazy during the dig but hears a firm “leave it” from you, and they stop. Here’s how to make that dream come true: start with short, focused training sessions in a low-distraction area. Practice “stay” and “leave it” near the fence, gradually increasing the distance and duration as your dog masters them. Reward any sign of attention towards you, even just a glance, to build a strong communication bridge. 

When you catch them digging, don’t scold. Simply say “leave it” in a firm but calm tone and redirect them to a designated play area or activity. The more you reinforce these commands, the more ingrained they become, acting as a mental barrier against the urge to dig. 

Recommend online obedience lesson: Basic Obedience Course

Tip #7: Create visual barriers

You’ve nailed the core concept? Break the line of sight, break the digging desire! First, assess your fence line. Are there gaps or areas where your furry friend can see squirrels taunting them from beyond? If so, plant a low-maintenance shrub border tall enough to obscure the outside world. The vines on the fence can also create a living, leafy curtain. Bonus points for fragrant plants like lavender or rosemary – the smell can be another deterrent.

No space for greenery? Get creative! Line the bottom of the fence with decorative rocks or even colorful wind chimes. The unfamiliar texture and visual noise will make digging less appealing. The key is to make the “other side” less interesting than the one they’re already on. By creating a visual barrier, you’re turning your fence into a cozy haven, not a gateway to adventure – and your dog will be one happy, digging-free member!

Tip #8: Consult with a professional trainer or behaviorist

If your dog continues to exhibit digging behavior despite your attempts to stop it, it may be time to consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can offer customized advice and training methods based on your dog’s individual needs and help you address the issue effectively. 


How do you fix a fence so a dog can’t dig under it?

Luckily, there are several effective ways to fix this problem. Choose the option that best suits your fence type, budget, and dog’s personality:

Chicken wire: Bury a 1-2 ft wide strip of chicken wire along the base of the fence, angled outwards at the bottom to create an L-shape. Staple or zip-tie it securely to the fence posts. 

Dig deterrent rollers: These PVC pipes spin when your dog paws at them, making digging frustrating and ineffective. Install them along the bottom of the fence.

L-shaped pavers: Line the base of the fence with L-shaped pavers, with the long edge buried underground. The lip makes digging under much harder.

How do I stop my neighbor’s dog from digging under the fence?

If you’re having issues with a neighbor’s dog digging under your fence, it may help to talk to your neighbor about it calmly and show them the damage. Together, you can come up with a solution that works for everyone. If that doesn’t work, there are physical deterrents you can use along the fence line, as I mentioned above.

What is a natural deterrent for dogs from digging?

Most pups dislike strong smells. Sprinkling citrus peels, cayenne pepper flakes (mixed with water to avoid irritation), or diluted vinegar around digging areas can work wonders to discourage your dog from digging.

Last but not least…

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For an all-in-one solution for most behavior problems your dog has now or may have in the future, check out this free online dog training workshop that improves dog-owner relationships and prevents poor behavior like: 

    • Barking
    • Accidents
    • Leash pulling
    • Not coming when called
    • Jumping on people
    • Running out the door
    • Chasing cars or animals
    • Chewing
    • Nipping or biting
    • Begging
    • Getting too excited
    • Ignoring commands

The workshop is conducted by Dr. Alexa Diaz, Ph.D., one of the most respected service dog trainers in the United States, and Eric Presnall, host of the Animal Planet TV show “Who Let the Dogs Out.” It has made life easier for many dog owners. Click here to get it.

About us: Pet Chao is a community for Asian dog breed enthusiasts. Our goal is to keep you and your four-legged friend healthy and happy by providing valuable resources and fostering a like-minded community.

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