How to Stop Dogs From Digging to Escape: Why They’re Doing It and Prevention Methods

Here are a few tips on how to stop dogs from digging to escape:

  1. Find the root cause (excess energy, lack of mental stimulation, fear, anxiety, arousement)
  2. Help the dog feel more comfortable in its environment by dealing with the cause of it head-on.


Longer walks, better toys, and more attention are likely to discourage the dog from escaping. If the problem is sexual roaming, make sure to neuter/spay your dog.

You should also dig-proof your yard by burying the fence about 12 inches into the soil. Alternatively, you can install some chicken wire or dig shallow holes and fill them with rocks.


How to Stop Dogs From Digging to Escape

Every once in awhile, pooches might decide to play around the yard and start digging.

In some cases, if there’s another underlying issue involved (such as social anxiety), they may try to run away by essentially creating a tunnel under the fence.

Clearly, this behavior is a lot more serious than one might think since you, too, are trying to find out how to stop dogs from digging to escape. So let’s ascertain an effective solution, shall we?

At first glance, you may think that the dog is merely trying to see what’s on the other side of the fence. However, any signs that the dog wants to get away from you should be taken seriously.

Here are some of the reasons they may be practicing their escape techniques!


How to Stop Dogs From Digging to Escape: Why They’re Trying to Get Away

You may already be aware that dogs actually love digging around the backyard. In fact, most of them find it quite comforting and entertaining.

Nevertheless, if the digging is going on around the fence, and your pooch is working hard on making a tunnel to escape through, there’s a bigger problem at play here.


Your dog may be trying to dig its way to freedom because:


It’s Frustrated or Has Too Much Energy

One of the reasons a dog may find its environment frustrating is that it doesn’t have anyone to play with, and it’s often alone at home.

Dogs do need mental stimulation, not to mention that their “people time” is one of the best parts of their day.

When they don’t have that, i.e., when their needs aren’t met, they may want to run away from home and find what they need elsewhere.

In fact, if they have already found such a place (like the neighbor’s yard), they’ll keep trying to escape!

Alternatively, you may be dealing with excess energy.

This is quite common in puppies and adolescents (younger than three), as they need a lot of playtime and opportunities to not only spend the energy they have but also recharge.

Additionally, if we’re talking about a bigger breed that tends to be more active than the rest — hunting breeds, for instance — then it’s likely the dog just needs something to do.

It wants to stay active!


Solution: Mental Stimulation and Daily Walks

Your dog shouldn’t be limited to the backyard, especially if it’s rather curious and would like to know if the grass is greener on the other side.

Therefore, if you believe that it’s trying to escape because it’s frustrating or has too much energy, try spending more time with the pooch and taking it out for longer, daily walks.

If you have a bigger breed, make those walks an hour-long, at least. Wear out the dog by letting it run around somewhere it won’t bother anyone.

When you’re not at home, keep the dog inside to prevent it from digging under the fence.

However, don’t leave it totally alone; make sure it has plenty of cool and interesting toys to play with, such as busy boxes, for instance, and puzzle toys.

They ought to keep it occupied enough to not feel lonely at all while you’re not present.

Finally, if the dog has to be in the backyard, but you cannot keep an eye on it for an extended period of time, consider hiring a dog sitter or leaving the dog in a doggy daycare, especially if it is frustrated because it’s lonely.

It’s Fearful

Unfortunately, our furry friends can get quite fearful and develop serious phobias after some time. Because of that, they may decide to run away the first chance they get.

Even worse, they may continue trying to escape if we don’t eliminate fear triggers from their surroundings.


Solution: Eliminate the Trigger and Create a Safe Space

Unfortunately, dealing with a fearful dog may require more effort. You have to find out what’s triggering the fear and then do whatever you can to keep the dog away from it.

Hiring a dog trainer could help, too, as they may be able to help the dog handle its fear better.

Creating a safe place for the dog is a solid idea as well. Nevertheless, it may be difficult to implement outside.

I suggest keeping the dog inside while you’re not at home anyway, so designate a part of your home that the dog can feel safe in.

Fill it with everything the dog loves and needs (food and water bowl, toys). Add something that smells like you, like a T-shirt, for good measure too.


It’s Anxious

Separation anxiety is another reason you may be looking for tips on how to stop dogs from digging to escape.

If your dog is having a hard time dealing with your absence, it may decide to dig around or under the fence as soon as you leave through the front door.

However, if it manages to escape, it may stay close by. That clearly shows its attachment to you is rather strong and unwavering.

The dog isn’t running away, but probably looking for you!


Solution: Implement Desensitization Techniques and Counter-Conditioning

To treat separation anxiety in your dog, you have to tone down its behavior a bit. Ignore it whenever it gets too anxious before you are about to leave.

To help it cope at home, you may also present it with something you’ve worn — your scent is likely to soothe it.

Consider teaching the dog a few commands, too, in order to help it feel safe whenever you leave the room.

A simple “sit” and “stay” should suffice, but there’s no reason not to teach it the “no” command as well.

Alternatively, try not to leave it alone for longer than necessary. Get a friend or family member to keep an eye on it or take it to doggy daycare if you won’t be home for a while.

Your vet may prescribe some meds for the dog’s overall anxiety too.

It’s Aroused

In the doggy world, sexual roaming is a big deal. Unfortunately for you, it may also be the underlying reason you’re desperate to figure out how to stop dogs from digging to escape.

It is in the dogs’ nature to seek out romance when they reach a certain age (six months). And not you nor your fence will be able to stop them!


Solution: Get the Dog Fixed

It goes without saying that getting your male dog neutered or your female dog spayed is a must here. However, make sure to do it as soon as possible.

If your dog keeps trying to escape, that need may grow into a learned behavior.

So, even if you get the dog fixed, it may continue escaping for some other unrelated reason.


How to Stop Dogs From Digging to Escape Fast and Easy: Dig-Proof Your Yard

Now, knowing how to stop dogs from digging to escape goes beyond the scope of taking the dog to the vet or implementing all of the tips above.

Apart from adjusting the dog’s behavior, we also need to take care of the yard. In other words, we have to make it as dig-proof as possible.

Fortunately for us, that’s not as challenging as it may seem. Here are a few suggestions:


Shallow Holes and Rocks

One of the easiest ways to prevent a dog from digging around or under the fence is to ensure there are obstacles ahead of it.

What you want to do is dig shallow holes all around and stuff them with some rocks.

It’s best if the rocks are large enough to discourage the dog from digging them up. It shouldn’t be able to knock them down with its nose.


Chicken Wire

If you’re after a foolproof solution, then some chicken wire is going to be your savior. Install it at the base of the fence to prevent any and all dogs from digging under it and escaping.

Just make sure that there aren’t any sharp edges — fold them inward.


A New (Buried) Fence

If it’s time for a new fence, but you also want to stop your dog from escaping the backyard, consider installing a brand new one.

This time around, though, you can bury it into the soil a bit (12 inches, for example) to ensure your dog cannot pass through it.

Still, keep in mind that the moisture from the soil would destroy a wooden fence. Cut your future costs right away and opt for a plastic or metal one.


Final Thoughts

Although our pooches like rummaging around the backyard out of sheer boredom, some of them may be looking for freedom on the other side of the fence.

If that’s the case, you now have a few ideas on how to stop dogs from digging to escape. Remember that you have to figure out the cause, though.

These prevention techniques may require extensive work in your yard, which isn’t every owner’s cup of tea!


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