When looking out your kitchen window, you probably don’t expect to see your dogs dig one hole after another. This can be a huge eyesore, but when your dog starts digging under the fence line, this could lead to a bigger problem which is when your furry friend suddenly escapes. There are different solutions that you can try to stop your dog’s digging habit, which we list in this article on how to stop dogs from digging, along with the most common reasons behind your dog’s digging behavior.
Why Do Dogs Dig Under Your Fence?
There are a variety of reasons why your dog digs by the base of the fence, including the following.
1. Your Dog is Bored
If your pup is left alone outside for long periods of time, there’s a chance that they’re digging out of boredom. Some dogs dig to entertain themselves; if this is why your dog digs, consider giving them more physical stimulation. They will also benefit from spending quality time with their family and favorite humans.
To combat this, make sure to make your backyard more interesting for your dog by providing them with a kiddie pool, a digging pit, and their favorite toys. You can have these options in rotation to keep things fresh in their environment, and you can give them puzzles to challenge them and spend excess energy. Just make sure that you don’t give them toys that can break and have small parts that can be swallowed.
It’s also important to give them mental stimulation; according to the Humane Society of the United States, dog owners should teach their dogs new commands. You can do these through various classes with a professional dog trainer or on your own. These should then be practiced every day for a few minutes at a time.
2. Natural Behavior
There are dog breeds that have the natural instinct to dig holes which include Basset Hounds, Terriers, Beagles, and Dachshunds. These digging dogs may try to dig deep holes or they might be trying to bury their toys or food. Larger dogs such as Labradors or Huskies might dig holes to get access to the cool dirt under the surface to find a cool place during a hot summer day.
When this happens, the best solution is to provide them with plenty of shade in various areas of the yard or a dedicated shady spot where your dog can escape the hot weather. Another option you can look into is a cooling bed for dogs to help them stay cool during hot days. Apart from these solutions, you may also want to give your puppy a safe place to carry out their need to dig.
3. They’re a Hunting Breed
If your dog tends to dig near shrubs and trees, this might be due to hunting for small animals or insects. If you have a dog that hunts underground and is a determined digger, such as a Terrier or a Dachshund, you may need to have a look through your yard. Check for signs of burrowing pests such as woodchucks or gophers; your pooch might just be trying to chase them away.
These little creatures are commonly found in backyards and gardens, so make sure that you check your yard or look for solutions to keep your pooch away from your garden. If you’re looking for ways to eliminate these underground pests, be sure that you look for an option that isn’t toxic to your canine buddy. When you find the right way to rid your yard of these critters, you’ll see that holes won’t appear as much anymore.
4. They’re Escape Artists
Finally, some dogs are naturally drawn to the world outside your yard and simply want to go out and explore but this doesn’t mean that they’re not happy at home. If you have female or male dogs in heat, they may want to go out in search of a mate. Nervous dogs may also try to get away from loud noises, such as a vacuum, construction noises, or fireworks.
Separation anxiety may also go along with this; if your dog is left alone for a long period of time, it may start panicking and digging to try and find you or someone else. For pups that naturally escape from your yard, you may need to install a privacy fence that will keep them from seeing beyond your yard. Furthermore, you can also work with a trainer to implement behavior modification to nudge your dog in the right direction.
How to Address Digging in Dogs
If your puppy is digging for any of the reasons listed above, you may try to meet their needs depending on the type of digging they do. For instance, if your dog has just dug out a hole in the middle of a hot day, it may be because they need a cool place to stay in. Make sure that your dog has constant access to water and shade; you should also consider investing in a dog house or a dog bed that’s elevated off the ground.
If there’s a reason that your dog wants to escape from your yard, be sure to take away the means they have of leaving. Similarly, if your dog isn’t neutered or spayed yet, be sure to get this procedure done to discourage them from finding a mate. To stop dogs from tunneling underground and going after groundhogs and moles, be sure to talk to pest control professionals to have these animals removed.
Digging as a result of boredom and anxiety can usually be reduced through the addition of physical activity and mental stimulation. This can be as simple as talking your dog out for a daily walk or playing a game of catch. We can also exercise our dog’s minds by having them learn new tricks or giving them a puzzle with treats inside.
Be sure to rotate their toys every now and then to keep them interested — you’re less likely to see your dog digging holes when it has something to focus on. When it comes to high-energy breeds, working off their excess energy can help eliminate destructive behavior. But if it continues to persist, it’s best to contact a canine behaviorist or a dog trainer who may be able to provide specific suggestions to work on your dog’s needs.
Solutions to Stop Dog-Digging Behavior
Now that you know about the reasons why your dog is doing what it’s doing, it’s time to check for the right solution to eliminate your dog’s bad habit. Luckily, improving your fence isn’t the only option, as you’ll see from the choices below.
Fill in the Current Holes
When you fill in the holes around your backyard, be sure to “future-proof” them to prevent dogs from reopening the same dig spots. To do this, you can bury large rocks and cover them in loose soil before replanting grass. Should your dog decide to dig in the same spot, it’ll quickly hit the stone just under the surface and will force it to stop.
Provide a Digging Area
If you have a dog that digs for fun or has a high prey drive, it’s a good idea to create a digging area for it in the backyard where it can dig freely. Ensure that this area isn’t near the fence line so they don’t accidentally dig to the other side of the fence. To do this, make a boundary of some kind by using wooden or stone edging which will help to clearly define this area.
You should keep in mind that you need to give your furbaby proper training so that it recognizes the digging pit as the right place for digging and that digging anywhere else is bad. When your pup digs in the designated zone, the first thing you need to do is give them plenty of praise. Should they dig close to your fence or other areas, give them a “no digging” signal or command firmly then proceed to redirect their attention.
Give Your Dog Enough Exercise
If your dog is digging big holes out of boredom and has too much energy then you might need to give it physical exercise. Most dogs will need to go on a walk at least once a day but dogs with extra energy will need more. Before you leave your pet out in the yard, tire them out first by playing with them or going out for a run; a tired dog will seldom become a destructive dog.
Spend Time Together
According to the American Kennel Club, dogs shouldn’t spend any more than 6 to 8 hours alone in a day without some form of social interaction such as dog daycare or a dog walker. Leaving your pooch outside your home for a long time may lead to boredom and separation anxiety, so be sure to spend lots of time together to help rid them of digging tendencies. You can also play hide and seek or fetch, along with some agility exercises.
You can also take your best friend through dog training courses, where staff can give ideas on training games that you can play with your dog. This will help to mentally stimulate them and can provide a good bonding opportunity, helping to cut their digging habits.
You need to train your dog to stay away from your fence using positive reinforcement. This refers to giving them praise for their good behavior but ignoring your dog’s behavior when it seeks attention. When you first get started, be sure to work with a professional dog trainer to help with your efforts.
Strengthening Your Fence
If for some reason your dog remains hooked on digging its way out of your backyard, the best way to keep your dog safely inside your property is to strengthen your fence. This is particularly effective against a digging breed and will discourage them from further attempts.
You don’t always need to set up a brand-new fence just to convince your dog to stop digging. Some pet parents simply modify their existing fencing; you can do this by creating an “L footer” using chicken wire. All you need to do is attach the top half of your chicken wire inside the bottom of your fence and fold it inwards.
Next, bury the bottom half of your chicken wire in your yard. In this way, if your pooch digs around your fence, it’ll get caught by the chicken wire and stop digging. Just make sure that you fold back the jagged edges of your chicken wire so it doesn’t injure your dog in any way.
Chain Link Fence
When your dog sees things outside your yard, it’ll want to keep digging so it can reach the other side. If you’re currently using some kind of see-through fencing such as a chain link fence, you can choose between a fabric screen or bamboo to cover your fence. Doing this will stop your dog from seeing through your fence and will be discouraged from wanting to go out.
Another great way to reinforce your fence is to dig out a small trench and partially bury pieces of lumber that follow your fence. This is particularly helpful if there are gaps between the ground and your fence and shouldn’t take much time to prepare.
You can stop adult dogs from digging by adding rocks to the landscaping around your fences. Many dog parents have found success in burying big rocks along the fence line. Since your pooch won’t be able to dig through these rocks and are also too heavy to move, this can be a solid solution.
One last solution you can also try is using wireless fences to keep your dog away from your actual fence. Updated GPS collars will let you customize your own “fenced area” and allow you to set different kinds of feedback. As a result, your pets will get a warning whenever they get too close to your fence.
If they keep going, they’ll get a stronger shock and will be deterred from getting closer. The biggest benefit from GPS collars is that even if your dog manages to escape your yard, you’ll be able to find them quickly thanks to the tracking feature.
When Does Digging Become a Health Problem?
In most cases, digging is nothing but a big nuisance, especially if your dog reaches your flower beds, but it shouldn’t be a concern over your dog’s health. But if your dog suddenly starts digging, then you might want to think about it. You may want to ask yourself if there’s something that’s making your dog more anxious.
Any kind of life changes, such as a change of address, a new baby, and even working longer hours at work can have an effect on your dog. But if you can’t see a reason for your dog’s sudden change in behavior, then there may be a physical cause for it. For instance, a dog that used to be docile but suddenly acts fearful or aggressive could be feeling pain, even if it isn’t showing other signs of pain.
Similarly, there are dogs that may start walking in circles or may become clumsy as a result of a stroke or brain inflammation. Not all behavioral changes will be related to a medical cause; even so, it’s still worth speaking to your vet about any kind of sudden changes. This includes a change in appetite or weight, excessive panting, increased lethargy, aggression, or fear.
While digging isn’t a known symptom of any specific health problem, it’s still worth talking to your vet about any concern you might have. The good news is that if your pet has insurance, you can be reimbursed for tests, medications, and exam fees if your dog suffers from an injury or is diagnosed with a disease.
Stop Dogs from Digging
One of the most common mistakes that pet parents make when it comes to digging behaviors is failing to do anything in the first place. There are various reasons why dogs start this habit and most can be controlled and eliminated when you put in the effort to train them and correct their behavior. Once you know the reason why your dog digs around your fence, there are plenty of solutions that you can try to curb their habit.
Digging can also be dangerous for older dogs, where your pooch may risk leaving the safety of your property, and may end up in the streets. But with a combination of activity, training, and improvements to your fence, you can keep your canine buddy secure and happy in your yard, without the hassle of finding holes all over your beautiful lawn.