4 Effective Ways To Stop A Dog From Digging Under A Fence

There are many reasons why dogs dig, including why dogs dig under fences. This behavior can be frustrating and can destroy your backyard. However, before trying to correct it, you need to understand why your dog is digging. 

In this guide, I’ll teach you four effective ways to stop a dog from digging under a fence. Additionally, I’ll share with you the reasons why your dog might like digging holes on the fence line so you can understand his behavior. 

Why Do Dogs Dig?

Dog digs in the sand on a sunny day at the beach

A dog digging is almost as common as a dog barking. Not all dogs dig, but if yours does, you should first understand why. There are many different reasons why your dog digs. They can get bored, feel anxious, or they might just do it to feel the ground against their body. 

Attention-Seeking

Anything your dog does can be attention-seeking behavior. If your pet learns that by doing something bad, you will give him what he wants, he’ll do it every time he wants you to notice him. 

If you react to his digging behavior, your dog will think that digging is how to get your attention. To avoid this type of behavior, ignore your dog when he does bad things. Eventually, your pup will realize that digging under the fence line won’t get him what he wants. 

Boredom

Another reason your dog might be digging under a fence is that he is bored. Bored dogs become quite destructive with anything they can get their paws on. If your dog spends a lot of time outside and does not receive the necessary exercise, he might start digging. 

If you have a yard or garden closed by a fence, then your dog might want to dig under it because it is the only thing he can get to destroy. 

To avoid a dog’s destructive behavior, a dog owner should provide him with enough exercise. For instance, some breeds require more than two hours of exercise a day, while others will be okay with one hour. 

Anxiety

Separation anxiety and anxiety, in general, are common in dogs. The stress can manifest in many different ways, including barking, howling, crying, jumping up, and digging. A dog that suffers from anxiety can also become quite destructive. 

If your dog suffers from anxiety, it is a good idea to understand what’s triggering that reaction. Once you know what produces his fear, you should help him avoid that trigger. Many dogs are burrowing animals and will attempt to make a small hole to climb in to feel safe and protected.

If your dog is exhibiting signs of fear and anxiety in the yard and digs in an attempt to escape, I would recommend consulting with a veterinary behaviorist. They will design an appropriate training plan and can prescribe anti-anxiety medications if needed.

Dr. Megan Teiber DVM

Hunting

Some breeds were made to hunt small animals. Most hounds, like Beagles, will have the instinct to hunt prey, and they do it sometimes by digging. 

Many hound breeds dig to find nests. Once they find the nest, they get the prey. If that’s the case for your pup, then digging is just part of their breed. Instead of correcting it, you could redirect their behavior to something else. 

Escaping Tendencies

One more reason your dog might be digging under your fence is that he is trying to escape. Escape tendencies are common in newly adopted dogs because they are used to having freedom and going anywhere they want to go. 

Usually, when a dog is adopted, there is an adaptation process. During this period, your dog might try to escape every time you open the door, or he might try to dig under the fence whenever you are not looking. 

Avoid using punishments as that can lead to more anxiety and distrust. Instead, supervise him more. Eventually through dog training, your pooch will adapt to his new home and won’t want to leave your side ever again. 

Other Reasons Why Your Dog Might Dig

Nesting Behavior

It is not uncommon for females to want to dig when they are pregnant. That’s because they are trying to create a comfortable, warm environment for themselves and their puppies. 

Although it is not that common, your dog might want to dig her nest near the fence because it is cool and comfortable. So, if that’s the case, only avoid it if it puts the structure at risk. 

Somewhere Cool To Lay

Dogs love digging near trees, house foundations, and water sources because the dirt in there tends to be cooler. If you live in a hot area, then your pup may be digging near the fence because it’s where he can feel the coolest. 

If you want to avoid this behavior, you can provide your dog with a cool place to rest during hot days. You can plant a tree in the middle of the yard or provide an elevated dog bed with ample ventilation. 

You can identify this behavior if your dog lays on the holes he digs. If he only digs and doesn’t do anything with it, then it might be something else.

How To Stop A Dog From Digging Under A Fence? 

Small dog buries his head in the snow sniffing for something

Now that you know what causes your dog to dig, it is time to correct his behavior. There are specific actions you can take to solve the problem depending on what is causing it.

1. Redirect Their Behavior

The best thing you can do to stop a dog from doing something you don’t want is redirecting his attention to something else. For instance, dogs that like hunting should be allowed to do it or should be given a lot more exercise if that’s not possible. 

What you can do in this case is hide treats in the ground. That way, you are training him to hunt above and not below. You can do this with his meals. Instead of feeding him in a bowl, you can spread the meal all over the garden. 

Tip: Give your dog a toy every time you go out and leave him alone in the garden or yard. Try to choose a different toy each time so that he won’t get bored. By doing this, you are giving him something to do rather than digging. 

You may like to check out our top list of toys.

Digging can be a hard habit to break because it is inherently rewarding for dogs. In the beginning, you will need to supervise your dog closely when she is in the yard to redirect her from this behavior. Introduce new toys to refocus her attention when she wants to dig.

Dr. Megan Teiber DVM

2. Teach Him The Word “No” 

Another thing you can do is train your dog. If you have time or the possibility of hiring a professional dog trainer, you should do it. By training your dog, you are teaching him what is correct behavior and what is not. 

For example, he is digging. Instead of going there to stop him, you can shout a command for him to stop. That way, he knows that digging is wrong. 

Here are some steps you can follow: 

  1. Whenever your dog does something wrong, like digging, say “No.” Don’t say it with a soft voice. Say it with a deep and authoritative voice. Your dog will recognize the tone as something not normal and should stop. 
  2. Repeat the process for as long as necessary. 
  3. Avoid doing anything else but saying the words because that can confuse your dog. 

It will take time, but eventually, he will learn. Some breeds can learn faster than others, so do not be discouraged and keep trying. 

3. Provide A Digging Zone

The next best thing you can do is redirect the digging to a place designed for that. Instead of denying your dog the pleasure he gets from digging, you’ll be telling him to dig in a specific location. 

You can designate a part of the garden as a digging zone and only allow him to dig there. Do this by rewarding him every time he digs in that zone. 

Additionally, you can also make the digging zone as attractive for him as possible. Use sand and soft soil to make it easier for him to dig there or get a sandbox for kids. Keep his toys in that place, and if you play with him, only do it in the digging zone. Eventually, he will understand that the area is for him. 

Before you can successfully prevent digging, you will need to determine why your dog wants to dig. The solution for an anxious dog will be different than that for a bored or prey-driven dog. For example, installing additional physical barriers around a fence may help keep a prey-driven dog inside, but would do nothing to calm an anxious dog.

Dr. Megan Teiber DVM

4. Use Rocks 

Suppose you cannot supervise your dog to correct the behavior. In that case, you can stop it by removing the possibility of it happening again. For this, all you need to do is place large rocks around the fences. That way, when your dog tries to dig again, he’ll find out that there is no more dirt but rocks. 

Use this as a last resort as getting the right kind of rocks can be expensive, and placing them can take a long time. You could also bury chicken wire around the fence, but that could be risky for your dog’s health. Another option is an invisible fence, although it would certainly feel redundent to have both a physical fence and an electric fence.

If you need more tips, you can check out this video.

How To Stop A Neighbor’s Dog From Digging Under Your Fence? 

If you have problems with a neighbor’s dog, the first thing you can do is talk to the owner. Usually, stopping a dog’s behavior requires time and supervision, so it would be better to have your neighbor doing that. 

However, if that isn’t working, you can do the following: 

  1. Place some chicken wire around the fence. Make sure the edge is facing your yard and not the neighbor’s garden. That way, you can reduce the risk of accidents. 
  2. Fill the existing holes with rocks. By doing so, the dog won’t have anywhere else to dig.
  3. If you catch him in the act, you can use a spray with water. That way, he’ll link digging under your fence with being sprayed. 

Conclusion

Dogs digging is normal, but it could mean something different when they do it under a fence. Your dog might be anxious, feeling bored, or might just have seen some rodent around, and he wants to hunt. 

The first step is to understand what your dog is trying to say when digging under the fence. Once you know what triggers that behavior, you can start the correction process. 

All content has been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Megan Teiber, DVM.


Kate Beveridge

Kate is an Australian writer and dog enthusiast. She can be found patting street dogs and caring for her mischievous Golden Retriever called Nala.



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