Whether you have a new puppy or have had your dog for years, you know that they love to dig. Some dogs only dig when they’re puppies, but others will continue to dig for the rest of their lives.
But how do you keep dogs from digging under the fence?
The best way to prevent dogs from digging under the fence is to bury chicken wire at an angle under your fence. Connect it to the bottom of your fence and let it stretch about a foot deep. Another solution is to spray citrus, vinegar, and water mix along the edge because dogs are repulsed by that smell.
But those aren’t the only ways. Below we’ll go into detail about some different strategies to use that will discourage digging (at least in the areas you want them to avoid).
Why Do Dogs Dig Under Fences?
While looking around your backyard you may find holes beneath your fence. Your dog may have caused it or maybe the neighbor’s dog did. It’s ugly-looking and annoying because you have to clean it up.
You also must worry about your dog or the neighbor’s getting out and maybe getting lost. This has led many frustrated owners to wonder why dogs dig under fences.
It is in their nature to dig, especially when they’re puppies. Puppies enjoy digging and will find a lot of joy digging up every bit of your yard. It is a good way for them to get out a lot of energy and to entertain themselves.
There are also some breeds that enjoy digging for a lot of the same reasons. These breeds include terriers, dachshunds, beagles, hounds, chow chows, malamutes, huskies, schnauzers, and griffons.
These breeds also enjoy digging because they may be hunting for small bugs or animals. In other cases, they may be trying to bury something.
But dogs of all sizes and breeds will dig for different reasons. If they see an animal or bug move or go into the ground, they may try and dig it up.
They may be bored in the yard and need something to do, so they dig, Some dogs will get bored or lonely and will dig under the fence to try and escape to find someone to play with.
Other dogs will do it for attention, even if it means punishment.
In an animal’s mind, even negative attention is sometimes better than nothing!
A lot of dogs will also do it because they have anxiety. They may miss you or want attention and will do anything to get it. They will try and dig their way out to find you or to grab your attention.
Other signs that your dog has anxiety include aggression, pacing, or barking more than usual.
Will Dogs Grow Out of It?
After digging a lot as puppies, most dogs will eventually grow out of their digging habit. However, the breeds listed above aren’t super likely to grow out of it and will keep digging throughout their lives.
Some dogs may not stop digging because they have anxiety, want to escape, hide things, or want your attention.
Whatever the case is for your dog’s digging habit, there are some ways to prevent your dogs from escaping. These include modifications to your fence or a repellent.
There are also some ways to teach your dog not to dig or give them a different way to get their digging energy out.
Modifications to Your Fence
Looking at your fence, there are plenty of ways to modify your fence to prevent your dog from digging underneath it.
If you are adding a fence in preparation for a dog or getting a new one, the best thing to do is make sure there is a lot of it embedded in the ground.
When you have fence posts buried deep in the ground, your fence is going to be sturdier and your dog will have a hard time getting past the fence posts when they dig.
If you don’t want to bury the fence posts, you can also give your fence a concrete base underground. It’s going to be quite difficult for your dog to get past that!
Using Chicken Wire
If you already have your fence up, using chicken wire may be the better solution. You can do two things with the chicken wire. First, you can leave it above base but secure it to the ground.
You’ll also need to secure some of the chicken wire to the fence.
Then bring it down to the ground and about a foot out from the fence. You’ll need to fasten the chicken wire to the ground with ground staples or heavy rocks.
Your dog may still dig at this, but they aren’t as likely to continue because it will be too much extra work.
The second thing you can do with chicken wire is to bury it. First, attach it to your fence above ground and then bury it a foot deep into the ground at an angle.
You can use ground staples if you want to make sure the chicken wire stays in place but you don’t need to. You just have to cover it up with dirt.
Even if your dog does try and dig at your fence, they’ll likely stop because there is chicken wire preventing them from leaving.
When it comes to fences overall, there are some that are better at preventing your dog from leaving and digging beneath them.
If your fence is buried in the ground a bit or has a concrete base, your dog may try, but ultimately will stop digging beneath it because they can’t get out.
Another great fence is an invisible fence. This fence will give your dog a little warning if they get too close to it and will shock them if they go over it.
This is a great way to keep your yard open, but not let the dog run loose. However, it is going to be more expensive.
If your fence only has the posts in the ground, or a gap beneath the bottom of it and the ground, your dog will easily be able to dig its way out.
Some other weak fences are those with holes or opening points between posts because smaller dogs can easily climb out. Chain link fences are also pretty weak because dogs can bend them back with enough force to make their way out.
Here’s an easy method to stop a dog digging under a chain link fence.
If you don’t really want to modify your fence or you can’t, there are some digging repellents that will make your dog less likely to dig at all.
You can easily go to your local pet store and buy some no digging spray. This is just a mixture that you spray onto the ground to prevent your dog from digging there.
It usually has smells and tastes that dogs don’t like. It won’t hurt them but we’ve found that many of the commercially available “stop dog digging” products are a bit hit and miss – some people have good results with them while others don’t.
You can also buy a bitter apple spray which are mainly used to stop dogs chewing things but could also work as a deterrent to digging if you spray it around the bottom of your fence.
These may or may not work for your particular dog but they are reasonably inexpensive so may be worth a try.
There are also some DIY no digging spray and repellents you can create at home. The easiest one to make is to mix vinegar and water.
Dogs don’t like the smell of vinegar and will steer clear of it if they smell it along the fence. Some other natural smells dogs don’t like are paprika, lemon, orange, anything citrus-y, and chili peppers.
Cayenne pepper also works really well and you can get it in a 5lb tub which should be enough to cover a wide area if needed.
You can easily sprinkle some of these ground-up seasonings or throw your lemon and orange peels on your lawn to prevent digging.
However, not all of the items listed above are friendly to your dog’s stomach. You can spray your fence with any number of these sprays, but dogs will be dogs and might lick the fence or area around it.
Be careful not to overdo any of these smells and if you see your dog eating or licking the areas you sprayed, it is best to stop using any type of repellents.
Dogs don’t like these smells and are likely to stay away from areas you put repellent, but it is not guaranteed.
Other Ways to Stop Digging
There are plenty of other ways to stop your dog from digging that don’t involve fence modifications or repellents.
These are a little more canine-friendly and more likely to prevent any future fence digging.
Burying Dog Poop
One way some people have found to be effective is by putting your dog’s poop in the hole they dug and covering it up.
Dogs don’t usually like to be around their own poop and will leave the area alone because of the way it smells. This is a safer alternative to the repellents listed above.
One of the problems with this option is that some dogs will actually eat the poop and then still dig under the fence. It’s also not the most pleasant task to perform and you would eventually have to replace the poop as it decomposed into the soil.
But yeah, you could try it. Just make sure you put a peg on your nose before you do it.
Dogs don’t particularly like digging through gravel as it tends to scratch their paws so you may want to try pouring some gravel around the base of the fence..then see what your dog does once he’s confronted with having to dig through it.
Preventing other animals from entering your yard
As mentioned before, some dogs dig because they see other creatures and want to go after them.
Preventing other creatures such as bunnies, moles, snakes, cats and even other dogs from getting in your yard is always a good idea.
One way to do this is to use an ultrasonic animal sensor. These can be spiked into the ground in your back yard and detect movement via a sensor.
Whenever it does detect movement in the area it emits an ultrasonic signal that humans can’t hear but animals can.
They seem to be effective at scaring away a wide variety of animals and pests from your yard so it’s certainly worth a try.
Here’s a demo video showing how they work in your back yard…
Keeping those creatures out will make your dog less likely to go looking for the animals to try and find them outside your fence. They can also help keep the neighbors dog from trying to dig under your fence to get inside your yard.
I found this one on Amazon and it does a good job of keeping other animals out of the garden.
Provide Shelter & Cooling for Your Dog In Hot Conditions
Some dogs may begin digging in because it’s too hot outside and the ground is cooler or they are seeking shelter in some way.
Make sure your dog has plenty of shelter options while they are outside.
Give them water, a spot to cool down in the shade, maybe even a little house to sleep in.
Dogs need to be happy in the environment they are in. If they aren’t happy, they will want to escape. Make your home safe and welcoming on the inside and outside.
Provide Plenty Of Things To Keep Them Entertained
Try to give them plenty of freedom to explore their environment. Sometimes they’re just seeking enrichment, so try to interest them with toys, snacks, or games.
Talk To Your Vet If The Problem Persists
One of the best things to do when it comes to your dog’s digging habit is to talk to your vet. They can help identify medical issues if it is in their genes, and suggest some good ways to stop the digging habit.
Also, give your dog plenty of love and affection! They want to hang out with you and spending time with them may distract them from digging too much.
Exercise and Training
Dogs enjoy digging as a way to use up their energy or to entertain themselves if they are bored. Finding other forms of exercise to get rid of their energy is a good way to stop digging.
Some alternatives include getting them some toys that can be used when they’re by themselves.
This will give them a good distraction from digging and can decrease their loneliness or anxiety because they’ll be playing with something.
Another alternative is to go on walks with them more often. This will get out a lot of energy and may make them more likely to rest when they get back or while they hang out in the backyard.
Some breeds love digging and need that form of exercise in their life. The best thing to do is get a sandbox or create an area designated for digging.
This gives them that freedom to dig and you don’t have to worry about them escaping or tearing up other parts of your yard.
To help them know where it is okay to dig, plant treats or toys in the sandbox and reward them for digging in there.
If your dog is a puppy, it is best to get started on their training as soon as possible. If your dog is digging or has dug a hole, bring them to the hole and punish them for what they have done.
Then it is best to bring them to an area they can dig in, away from the fence, and award them there. This will teach them where it is okay and not okay to dig.
If you don’t want them digging at all, reward them for the time they spent outside and didn’t do any digging.
Other training you can do is creating commands to keep them away from the fence. In some cases, they may dig for attention and it is best to ignore it.
Over time, they will usually stop digging because they aren’t getting attention for it.