How can I prevent my dog from digging under the fence?
I. The solution to dogs digging under fences
If you have a Hound Houdini in your home, you know firsthand how challenging it can be to keep your furry friend safe while he's playing in the yard. Dealing with a dog who is constantly plotting a jailbreak can certainly be stressful.
Thankfully, with patience, creativity, and a little craftiness, it is possible to fortify your fence and keep your dog from digging his way to freedom. We'll share some tips below to help!
The solution to digging under the fence for your dog. Key takeaways
There are many ways to stop your dog from digging under the fence, but you need to determine his motivation for escaping in order to have the best chance of success. For example, some dogs dig under a fence to escape a perceived threat, while others do so simply because they are bored.
Once you have determined your dog's reason for escaping, you can begin to implement strategies to stop him from digging tunnels to get free. For example, if your dog is digging tunnels out of boredom, you may need to provide more enrichment opportunities and entertainment.
While there are many strategies you should consider implementing to stop your dog from digging under the fence, there are also some things you should not do. This includes, for example, scolding him after he has already escaped or implementing any tactics that could cause harm.
Why do dogs dig under fences?
To help your dog stay safe, it's important to understand why he seems determined to dig out of the backyard. Your dog may be trying to escape for a variety of reasons, which may include.
He's bored. Chances are your dog is just looking for something to do. Smart dogs in particular need a job to stay happy, and having the same old toys hanging around the yard (or none at all) doesn't always fit the bill. Some smart canine competitors might include Border Collies, Poodles and German Shepherds, to name a few.
Your furry friend sees a squirrel and he can't resist. Some dogs have a stronger prey drive than others. Dogs that are particularly attracted to what's outside the fence may try to indulge themselves after prey. This is more common in sight and scent hounds as well as terriers.
It takes its guarding duties a little too seriously. Protective puppies, especially guardian breeds, may be inclined to run away if they find a threat, which can pose a potential safety problem for everyone.
He craves companionship. Many puppies want nothing more than to be with the people they love. Therefore, if your furry friend is left alone outside without adequate interaction, he may try to find companionship outside the fence.
Nature's call. Dogs that are not secured, especially males, may try to escape if they smell a nearby female in heat. The urge to mate can sometimes override your puppy's desire to stay within the confines of your backyard.
It's anxious. An anxious or nervous dog may try to escape from the yard simply because he is confined. Your dog may panic because of separation anxiety or be startled by a frightening stimulus, such as an approaching thunderstorm or fireworks.
Take the time to train your dog
As the saying goes, dogs will learn whether we are there to teach them or not. Basically, these solutions don't always work on their own - you often need to teach your dog to modify its behavior in appropriate ways.
It is also important that after installing a new physical barrier, you monitor your dog closely to make sure he doesn't inadvertently hurt himself. Unfortunately, combating habitual digging is rarely an overnight occurrence.
17 Solutions for Dogs Digging Under Fences
Without further ado, here are some super solutions to help prevent your dog from digging under the fence. Some of these methods take more time to implement than others, but investing in these strategies is certainly worth it to keep your canine companion safe.
1. Fill any existing holes
Sometimes dogs are attracted to existing holes, so it's important to fill them in as they appear. If there are any recurring "problem spots," it may make sense to cover the area with landscaping or other lawn features to deter your dastardly diggers.
2. Bury the bottom portion of the fence
If your dog tends to dig under the fence, you'll want to bury the bottom part of the fence panels as soon as possible. This is quite necessary for building any dog-proof fence for escapees. You can bury the fence at least one to two feet below the surface to make sure your furry friend doesn't slip out from underneath.
If your canine is a climber and you have
If it is a chain link fence, you may want to bury large rocks or other obstacles near the fence line as an additional deterrent.
3. Install wire at the bottom of the fence
Burying or hanging a bit of chicken wire at the bottom of the fence can provide an additional barrier that your dog can't get through. You can also secure a small strip of plastic fencing to the bottom of any DIY dog fence so that your four-legged dog will have a hard time digging its way to freedom.
4. Pile gravel at the bottom of the fence
Gravel is uncomfortable for dogs, so building a top layer near the bottom of the fence may stop your hound Houdini in his tracks. This is an easy solution, especially for privacy fences modified with wire, which can be a challenge.
5. Pouring concrete at the bottom of the fence
Your furry friend can't dig through concrete, so this extra layer is a surefire way to keep your dog from escaping underground. That said, this may change the landscape of your backyard and is a fairly expensive option, but it's also one of the most effective ways to keep your dog under control.
6. Dog-safe digging deterrents
Using a deterrent spray for dog safety may help prevent your dog from getting close enough to your fence to try to escape it. That said, you will need to test a small portion of the privacy fence on a less visible part of the fence, as deterrent sprays have the potential to discolor wood or other materials.
You can also use something like diluted vinegar near the bottom of the fence to help deter digging. This won't work for all dogs, but it's certainly worth a try as it's a fairly inexpensive solution.
7. Give your furry friend a place to dig
Many pups dig for fun, or do so because it's in their nature to do so. Sometimes, providing your dog with a safe space where he can dig can prevent him from needing to dig where he shouldn't. You can help your dog stop digging in the yard by providing a safe digging space like a sandbox. Digging can be a very valuable enrichment activity, and many owners have successfully relocated their dog's digging rather than stopping it altogether.
Please note that you may need to spend some time redirecting your four-legged animal to his approved digging spot before he gets the message.
8. Spay or neuter your pet
If your furry friend digs himself up in pursuit of a mate, it's a good idea to have him spayed or neutered. There are several benefits to spaying or neutering your dog, one of which is that the surgery can reduce your dog's urge to have fun outside the fence.
9. Provide more physical exercise
Is your furry friend getting enough exercise? Plenty of dogs can build up energy as a result, so providing more enrichment before your best buddy relaxes in the yard may be the key to eliminating unwanted digging behaviors.
You can incorporate more physical activity into your dog's life, among other things.
Getting a longer walk or run in
Spending time at the dog park or dog park alternatives
Engaging in agility activities
Consider using a dog treadmill
10. Eliminate line of sight
If your dog digs for chasing prey, it may be a good idea to look into privacy fences. Chain link fences can help control your dog, but unfortunately, they still give your furry friend a line of sight to the outside world, which can lead to Fido getting involved in some dog mischief.
Eliminate any direct line of sight by using a sturdy fence and strategic landscaping.
11. Add an invisible fence
While it's best to start with a physical barrier, some owners may prefer to explore the possibility of installing an invisible dog fence. If you're going to go this route, you'll need to spend a lot of time training your pup on how an invisible fence works to keep him safe.
You might even consider combining an invisible fence with a physical fence for extra security. Keep in mind that this option does not work for every dog, and not all owners are comfortable with giving their dog an electric shock every time he tries to leave the perimeter.
Electric fencing should be a last resort
At K9 of Mine, we are not keen on using tools like electric fences because of the fear and stress they can cause to a dog.
However, we recognize that if an electric fence is a key element in allowing a dog more freedom outdoors, then sometimes the benefits can outweigh the costs.
Still, we recommend trying to secure your physical fence or address your dog's escape patterns before using an electric fence, as they can be quite dangerous and stressful for your dog.
12. Make sure your dog is just comfortable
Your dog may dig in, try to get cooler, or find a warm place to relax. Depending on your dog's needs, a dog pool or an outdoor dog house can help keep him comfortable and prevent digging.
If your furry friend is too cold, make sure his doghouse has some comfortable bedding-you may also want to let your canine wear a coat before going out into the yard.
13. Make sure Spot is not frightened
If your dog is trying to escape out of fear, it is important to determine the source of your dog's apprehension so that he can confidently relax in the yard. Take the time to observe your dog outside - is there any stimulus that sends him into a digging frenzy?
You can also use dog cams to monitor your furry friend from a distance. Your dog may be experiencing separation anxiety, which requires you to implement a whole different set of strategies. When in doubt, talk to a trained behaviorist to understand the root of your furry friend's fears.
14. Eliminate digging rodents with pet-safe tools
If you have digging rodents like moles or gophers, chances are your dog is just following their lead or chasing them. Eliminating rodents can help curb your dog's preoccupation with digging, though you must do it in a way that is safe for your dog.
For best results and to ensure that you employ dog-safe strategies to remove rodents from your yard, the wisest course of action is to seek the help of a pest control specialist.
15. Provide more enrichment
Is your best buddy bored?
Is your best buddy just bored? Some dogs may end up digging in if they don't have anything better to do, so providing more engaging toys or games for your furry friend can help save your yard and keep Fido safe. Remember, for many dogs, mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise
Some of the canine enrichment activities your dog may enjoy include.
Playing with food-filled puzzle toys
Playing endless games of fetch with dog ball launchers
Participating in dog obstacle courses or agility equipment
Doing nose work games
Shredding cardboard or other shreddable items
16. Add new landscape features
Creative landscaping, such as cleverly placed trees, rocks and gravel, can help keep your dog confined. Just make sure you plant dog-friendly shrubs and discourage your dog from nibbling in your new garden.
17. Supervise your precious dog when he's outside
Some dogs need constant supervision when they are in the backyard, especially after they have mastered mutt manners. Until you are sure your dog can live independently for a short period of time, it is best to keep a close eye on your dog while he is enjoying the outdoors. This will also give you the opportunity to redirect your furry friend when he starts digging up the yard.
II. 4 things you shouldn't do to stop your dog from digging
While it's important to know how to keep your furry friend safe, it's equally important to know what not to do. Here are a few misguided strategies you need to avoid.
1. Don't punish your dog long after an incident has occurred
We don't always catch our dogs in the act. It's okay to tell your dog to stop if you catch him on the spot (and better yet, redirect him to a more meaningful activity), but scolding your dog long after the initial digging behavior has occurred is not effective. Your dog will just be confused and not at all intelligent.
2. Don't use anything that could hurt your dog
In the process of stopping digging, do not use aggressive chemical repellents or poisons that can easily harm your dog. Also, stay away from sharp objects or hard obstacles that could injure your precious dog.
3. Don't leave your dog unattended on a leash
Neither tethering nor leash use is safe when left unattended. They can be used in place of a long leash when you and your dog are outside, but not when your four-legged animal is alone.
4. Don't fill the hole with water
Water will not permanently fill the hole, and may even encourage your dog to explore further if he likes to splash or swim. Take the time to properly refill any holes to match the topography of the rest of the yard.
Please note. Determined dogs may look for alternatives
Redirecting your dog to stay safe unsupervised can be a process. Keep in mind that dogs who are absolutely determined to escape may change tactics if you prevent them from digging.
Unfortunately, once you have eliminated the problem of digging, you may have to look into other solutions. This is not an unnecessary problem that you can solve overnight, but with a little patience and some of these strategies.
You're sure to find a way to keep your loved ones safe.
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