Your dog isn’t just a pet. He or she’s a member of the family.
You love them, and their love for you is unquestionable. This characteristic defines dogs as a species.
Letting them have time outside is a necessity for many reason—especially for those dogs who aren’t used to puppy training pads or DoggieLawns—but you likely also want to give them time in the yard just to enjoy himself.
As much as it can lower his stress levels with fun, though, it can raise yours. How do you keep your dog from digging up the yard? Even more importantly, how do you keep your dog from digging under the fence?
We answer all of these questions and more in this blog post. If you prefer video, you can watch that here too:
Why Dog Digging Is an Issue
You might actually wonder if you even need to stop your dog from digging spots along the fence. In some cases, it might be totally harmless, but most of the time a digging zone on your side of the fence can be a problem. Dogs digging up holes in the yard, especially along the fence, can be an issue for many reasons:
- Unsightly outdoor space
- Possibility of dog escape
- Other animals might get in under fencing
- Holes can be tripping hazards for people
- Can antagonize other dogs
- HOA violations
Why Dogs Dig
Digging is something that can be very instinctive for most dogs, although some breeds are more enthusiastic about it than others. While you want to keep your yard from being turned into a lunar landscape full of craters, you shouldn’t totally stop your dog from doing this. Many dogs need to actually do it, just as some dogs love sniffing dog treats and chewing dog toys.
Having said all that, while dog digging is often natural, it can also be symptomatic of psychological issues, including but not limited to:
- Needing attention
- Hiding something
- Nesting, especially with pregnant dogs
Your dog might have learned to dig before you even owned him, as he needed a way to hide their possessions from their fellow littermates. Digging might also be a behavior a dog picks up from another dog in the same house that likes to do it. Knowing the cause can help you manage the problem.
If your dog is suffering from anxiety, then they aren’t going to only display it just through digging. Other triggers and circumstances will present themselves. If your dog digs when left alone in the yard, then it could be symptomatic of separation anxiety. Your fence would have holes underneath it across a wide area, perhaps the entire yard. Other signs of an anxious dog include excessive elimination, barking, pacing, depression, aggression, and destructive behavior. In cases like these, digging happens when left at home alone because your dog wants to get out of the yard and back to you promptly. Dealing with separation anxiety should take care of the digging.
Dogs Are Descendants of Hunters
Varying dog breeds come with their own level of drive for prey, but every dog has it to some degree. Dogs with high levels of prey drive include hounds, terriers, and hunting breeds, such as the Weimaraner. A dog with hunting instincts is similar to one with anxiety, in that they won’t just display it in the backyard. You’ll also see hunting behavior during play and on walks. Hunting dogs dig in more concentrated points where they suspect animals might be, so the resulting holes are structured like paths. It’s up to you to decide on accepting the hunting as-is and dealing with it or trying to minimize your pup’s prey drive.
Boredom Can Set In Fast
Dogs tend to get bored quickly if they’re left alone in your yard without much to do. Puppies and breeds with higher energy levels are especially susceptible to this. You’ll see holes everywhere, but they won’t be very deep. Exercising high-energy dogs can help alleviate boredom.
Preventing Dog Digging
When it comes to dog digging, you can either focus on medical issues and underlying behaviors, or you can just redirect or prevent the digging. If dealing with medical and psychological matters fails, then you have to focus on prevention and redirection.
Supervise Your Dog
Most dogs should be continuously supervised when in the yard. Being alone out there bores most dogs. If your dog has a passion for escape artistry or fence fighting, then supervision is even more essential. Better yet, have some fun and get some exercise by spending time bonding with your dog. You can even hire a part-time pet sitter via one of today’s best dog walking apps. Keep their focus on you (or another human), and they’ll never think about digging.
Use an Invisible Dog Fence
You can confine your dog to particular boundaries within your yard using an invisible dog fence, thus keeping them away from the physical fence that they are digging under. The best invisible dog fences are app-enabled and use dog GPS tracker collars to set the boundaries, although more traditional designs utilize a wireless signal or a buried wire to set where your dog can or cannot go within your yard.
Redirecting to a Sandbox
If your dog just loves digging, then they’re going to need an outlet. This behavior is natural to many dogs. Devoid of a good outlet, they’ll keep terrorizing your yard’s soil. They might even get out. A safe zone for digging can maintain your yard while keeping your dog content. A basic sandbox can work wonders, although try not to use a plastic one since some dogs will chew parts off and choke on them. Anything solid and waterproof, such as wood, is a good material for this option. Put the sandbox in the shade and fill it with loose soil or sand. Keep the sandbox engaging to keep your dog’s attention here instead of the rest of the yard. Hide some of your dog’s toys somewhere in the sand, and use treats to reward them for being in the box.
If there are particular spots your dog is digging up over and over, then decorate them to prevent the behavior. Consult your local nursery for dog-friendly bushes you can put along the fence. Also, consider xeriscaping with various sizes of stones and rocks  . Stone features can look great, and water features also add a new dimension to your landscape.
Bury Chicken Wire
When you bury chicken wire below your fence, your dog is going to get discouraged from doing any digging there. Make sure your fence measurements are accurate so you can get just enough chicken wire. Bury it down there with one side facing into the yard. The trench you dig for this should be the same width as the holes your dog digs. Cover the chicken wire entirely with dirt.
Put a Fence Underneath the Fence
Similar to buried chicken wire, you can hammer some Dig Defence or another suitable fence design into your ground horizontally, rather than a standing fence’s normal 90-degree angle. This works wonders for dogs who eagerly dig tunnels because they want out of jail. You really only need the top section of wired fencing pushed down into the ground. Pair it up with a chicken wire for strong underground security.
Preventing Dogs Digging Underneath Chain Link Fencing
A chain-link fence is an affordable and easy solution. However, it’s not foolproof on its own. Look for the soil around the fence with dips or bald spots. These are easier places for dogs to dig. Connect tent stakes to the fence’s bottom wires and then drive them into the ground. Spaced several inches apart, these should make digging efforts far from worth it.
Neighbor Dogs Who Dig Under Your Fence
Sometimes, the dog you don’t want digging under your fence is the one on the other side. When two dogs start riling each other up, things can get tense. One answer is putting up a fence inside a fence. It might sound redundant, but if there’s walking space for people between the two fences, then neither dog will feel threatened or see a need to dig. Hopefully, your neighbor is amenable to solutions, but document incidents and dug holes if things take a legal direction.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you stop a dog from digging under the fence?
There are four steps to take here. First, consult your vet to make sure there aren’t any medical issues causing the digging, as it can sometimes be a nesting sign indicating pregnancy or other medical conditions. Second, address any psychological issues your dog might have, be it anxiety, depression, or something else. Third, look into dog training to prevent the behavior. Fourth and finally, make physical alterations to the yard as described in the previous paragraphs.
What can I put on the bottom of my fence to keep my dog in?
Chain link fencing, chicken wire, and hardware cloth are all viable options on the bottom of most fences to keep your dogs inside your yard.
Will vinegar stop a dog from digging?
Very possibly! Dogs don’t like how vinegar smells, which means it can deter digging. Formulate a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar in a spray bottle, and then spray it on common dig spots. Watch to see how effective it is. Some dogs won’t dig there anymore, but others will just dig past the vinegar smell.
What can I put at the bottom of my fence?
While there are things you can put on the bottom of your fence to keep dogs in, such as chicken wire and chain links, they can be unsightly. Cover them up with mulch, planters, stones, or even gravel.
What dog breeds are known for digging?
Any dog can turn into a digger, especially for medical or psychological reasons. However, certain breeds are more typically enthusiastic about digging than others. Keep an eye out if you own any of these:
- Alaskan Malamute
- Australian Terrier
- Basset Hound
- Bedlington Terrier
- Border Terrier
- Cairn Terrier
- Chow Chow
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Miniature Schnauzer
- Siberian Husky
- West Highland White Terrier
- Wirehaired Pointing Griffon
Of course, if you have a mixed breed of unknown origins you can always use a dog DNA test to help determine if your pet will have digging tendencies.
Can dog training help with this?
Dog training can help with most canine issues, but it’s especially effective if you put a sandbox out. If you spot your dog near the fence, order them away with a firm ‘No’ and direct him to the sandbox. Have a treat and affection ready for him there.
You and most people will recognize your fence line as a space where your property ends and the next lot begins. However, your dog might see it as a prison wall he needs to escape. Use these methods to keep your dog away from the fence.
No matter how well you train your dog or domesticate him inside the home, they still get a little wild at times. Even when dogs are trained to handle their business outside, they might feel like it’s okay to dig up the yard as much as they soil it. This can cause issues near your fence by making your yard look ugly, creating openings or escapes for various animals, and possibly being a chance for your dog to make a break for it.
Consult your vet and trainer for solutions and remedies, but also think about making physical alterations to your landscape that makes dog digging not worth it and escape even impossible. Effective additions to your fencing beneath the soil can help your dog learn that digging leads to nothing but frustration. You’ll keep your yard looking amazing at the same time, and it might even be the motivation you needed to improve your landscape in the first place.
Create a backyard you and your dog both love, and you’ll have a shared space that neither of you ever want to leave. A dog play yard perfect as a play area will keep Fido happy and active, and his mind away from digging.