How to Stop My Dog From Digging Under the Fence

dog digs under fence

Odds are high that if your dog doesn’t climb over your fence that you have to keep them in the yard, they will attempt to dig underneath it instead. It’s their natural instinct to try and escape any enclosure, no matter how large it is. There’s just not much that you can do to stop that natural urge, but you can lean how to stop a dog from digging under a fence by applying some common sense approaches and tools available.

Why Dogs Dig In The First Place

The reason why dogs dig under fences is very simple: they want out.

But, why do they want out?

Well, first of all, no living thing wants to be caged, no matter how large the cage is. It doesn’t matter how entertained the dog is or how adequately they are provided for inside that caged area; if you leave the door or the gate open, they will leave… eventually. How quickly they decide to leave depends on a few different factors. Many people have come home from work with their door wide open and their dog still in the house right where they left them, but dogs do come home even if they left for a while.

Dogs have some level of ability to be trained to stay within certain areas, but they only have so much ability to resist temptation. That person may come home to their dog still in the house after an 8 hour shift at work; stay gone overnight and the story will likely change for the worse.

It’s easier to resist the temptation to do something when A) that thing is hard to do and B) there are good reasons not to do that thing. Dogs require lots of reasons to not attempt to escape their enclosure and even if you get everything right and do your best, they’re still going to try to get out if the barrier to doing so is weak.

Make Improvements To Your Fence

If your dog is successfully digging under your fence, your fence likely has some inherent flaws in it that can be fixed.

Your fencing should go all the way to the ground. If it doesn’t, then you should install an “L-footer” at the bottom of the fence. This is an extra bit of fencing material that attaches to the bottom of your fence close to the ground and bends inward towards your yard; it’s easily held in place with yard staples like these. Your dog can’t dig through a wire fence in the ground. See the picture below for an example of how this works.

Adding large “railroad ties” to the bottom perimeter of your fence can deter even the most adamant diggers. Even if they can eventually dig underneath them and get out, it will take them longer and it will make it more likely that you discover their antics before they can manage to escape.

Metal tent stakes are also useful if you have chain link or another type of metal mesh fencing. These are easily placed and can’t generally be seen from far away, so they won’t make your fence an eye sore. Chain link fencing can be an eye sore all by itself, though.

Make Improvements To Your Yard

Adding some shrubs and bushes to the perimeter of your fence can help as well. It deters the dog from getting that close to the fence to start with and the root systems can help keep them from burrowing outside the fence. The downside is that if you do this, it can also make it harder to discover places where they are digging.

Spray the Fence Bottom With A Deterrent

Spraying pepper along the bottom of the fence area or just in places where your dog is already trying to escape can stop them from attempting it again. They don’t like the pepper smell; it interferes with their sense of smell and it burns a bit.

Add An Electric Fence Wire Close To The Bottom

You can also run an electric fence wire along the bottom portion of your fence to stop them from digging out. It’ll shock them a bit when they make an attempt and sure, it hurts, but it’s better than them escaping and potentially getting hurt or killed.

The next section that follows is to help you provide your dog some reasons to stay at home, but none of what’s in this next section is going to help if the enclosure itself is weak.

Want A New Fence? Try This One

We have a review of the greatest dog fence there is. It’s dig-proof, climb-proof, and chew-proof. If you need to set up a new fence for your yard, you’re going to need the best invisible dog fence.

Keeping Your Dog Entertained Is Key

Dogs need reasons to stay home, because their natural instinct is to wander. They have a need for mental stimulation and it’s your job as their owner to provide it, even if you can’t be there all day every day.

First, if you have the ability, the best thing for your dog is another canine companion. Dogs are social creatures, so expecting him or her to stay in the yard while you’re gone for hours at a time is a poorly thought out plan.

DIY Dog Sandbox

If your dog is just one that likes to dig in general, giving them a dedicated area for digging is a good idea. This can be easily and cheaply done by building them their own “dig pit” or sandbox.

You can do this either with a plastic swimming pool filled with kid-safe sand or you can build a wooden frame to put the sand directly onto the ground with. Either way, check out the video below for the basic idea on how to do this.

Give Your Dog Adequate Shelter

Whether it’s blazing hot or freezing cold outside, if your dog doesn’t have adequate shelter to get out of the elements, they’re going to do whatever they possibly can to get out. That’s just survival instincts. If they have no way to get out of the wind, rain, heat, and cold, they’re going to try to leave by whatever means necessary.

Fortunately, dog houses have been a thing since people have domesticated dogs. But, things have improved vastly since then and what you want is a dog house that, at the very least, has a flap on the front door to protect from the rain and wind.