Darn Digging Dogs!
Dogs are great companions. They’re loyal, friendly, always excited to see you and many breeds make for invaluable home protection. But sometimes, they can be downright infuriating! This is especially true when they dig under your fence.
Don’t lose your temper though. Here are some easy ways about how to stop dogs from digging under fences along with some possible reasons why they do this. Knowing the “why” will be imperative in getting them to stop.
First, it’s important to understand that the dog isn’t being mean or spiteful. They don’t understand what it means to put work, care, effort, time, and money into landscaping. Their ability to dig is an integral part of canine nature.
They dig for many reasons. They could be looking for attention but they could also be trying to entertain themselves. Other reasons include escaping, hunting, or seeking comfort and protection.
Whatever their reasons, there is always a way to deter them from digging under your fence.
It’s the Neighbor’s Dog
This is a bit tricky. If you have a decent relationship with your neighbor and are able to have effective communication with them, please give them the suggestions mentioned below.
But if you have an iffy rapport with your neighbor, you may have to take some matters into your own hands. The point is to stop the dog from digging by making it undesirable for them to do so.
You can bury rocks where they dig, place your fence deep under the soil or line your side of the fence with chicken wire.
Failing this, you may have to get local authorities involved and study up on local and state regulations.
There Are Some Things You Shouldn’t Do
If it’s your dog doing the digging, don’t punish them after the fact or fill the hole with water. None of these will help and make matters worse. In some cases, punishment may cause undue stress and anxiety to the dog, which may only increase their digging.
The Great Attention Seeker
Remember, a dog can turn any behavior into a pursuit for attention if they are desperate enough. Even negative encounters, like punishment, are still their attempt at obtaining attention. They’ll do anything to spend time with you and if doing bad things is what gets you to interact with them, they’ll do it.
Always Reinforce the Positive
Be consistent in acknowledging and rewarding good behavior. Making sure your dog gets enough interaction time with you and take them for plenty of walks each day. This should squash any attention-seeking behavior rather fast.
As best as you can, ignore bad behavior and undesirable ploys for attention. Acknowledging it will only reinforce bad behavior for the dog. If you have to reprimand, use a one-word command like, “No!” with a firm, loud voice.
It is important to remember that wolves are their cousins. They respond to the “alpha” in their pack with respect when they feel respected.
Digging is Interesting and So Much Fun!
Because it’s so instinctual and normal for them to be diggers, they could be simply acting on impulse. Dogs left alone for far too long dig to stave off boredom. This is also true if their play area is barren and dull.
Sometimes they’ll feel the need to mimic their human caretakers. If you’ve recently done any amount of yard work, the dog may think it’s helping you out while you’re away.
The entertainment factor is going to be more common among energetic and active pedigrees. Various breeds of terriers are famous for digging.
People Time; Walks May Be the Answer
If you believe they’re digging due to boredom, then you are going to have to increase their time with people and give them a bigger world to explore.
Home Alone Too Long
If the dog is home alone for hours, make sure you are walking them twice a day; once in the morning and again in the evening.
Don’t skip playing with the dog at least once per day. This may have to be a scheduled activity depending on how much time you have available. If you do this at around the same time every day, the dog will learn to expect that time with you.
You may have to include other household members to take part in this schedule too.
Barren Landscape, Boring View
Keeping a variety of engaging and involved toys for them to play with will help to fend off bored digging. The idea is to keep them well distracted, especially when you aren’t around. You know the saying, “time flies when you’re having fun?” It applies to dogs too.
Having consistent playtime with your dog will help prevent unnecessary digging for entertainment. They will be awaiting your return and looking forward to their human time.
Other Ideas, Thoughts; Considerations
Take your dog to a training class or teach them new tricks. Have a daily practice with your dog. Doing this on a specific schedule will go a long way in curbing unwanted behavior, like destructive digging.
Even doing things as simple as throwing around a ball or Frisbee could be the solution.
Consider the possibility that it’s not just good for your dog’s physical and mental well being, but also your own. This playtime can help relieve tension and stress, particularly if you’ve had a difficult and taxing day at work.
The Clever; Witty Escape Artist
Sometimes dogs will run away because they want to catch another animal, chase or play with another dog or because they’re looking to get away from something. This is when they are most often found digging under fences.
The important factor here is to find out why your dog always feels the need to escape.
Quelling the Sneaky, Artful Dodger
Of course, here’s where consistent interaction and training can come in handy. But, if they can’t help themselves from digging under the fence, try one or a combination of the following:
- Anchor a chain-link fence or chicken wire to the bottom of the fence where it goes into the ground
- Line the bottom of the fence with partially buried rocks and stones.
- Remove or inhibit the object compelling them to run away
- Make it more desirable for them to stay in the yard with toys and other engaging activities
Can’t Help Going on the Hunt
Often dogs will chase down burrowing animals, small rodents, and insects. If this is the case, pay attention to these kinds of critters and use safe, non-invasive ways of weeding them out.
Save Mother Nature’s Little Ones
Make your yard and/or garden undesirable for small animals you find and refrain from using lethal methods of removal. Please don’t kill them if you can avoid it, at all costs if necessary. Pesticides or insecticides will have the capacity to hurt your dog too.
Hunting Dogs Must Hunt
If your dog is a genetic hunter, you have allowed them to do this. Once in a while taking it out to the woods or on a hunting trip.
Dogs Also Love to be Safe; Sound
Sometimes, extreme temperatures and inclement weather can affect your dog. If they don’t have an adequate outdoor covering, they’ll dig up a hole to lay in. They do this to protect themselves from wind, rain, snow, and heat.
Ways to Ensure their Protection; Comfort
During colder days and the harsh winter months, be sure to have them inside more often and inspect their shelter outside. Make sure it’s comfortable and resistant to heat and cold. This is going to be more of a focus for those living in colder climates, arid deserts, or places where sticky humidity is an issue.
If they have a dog house and they dig right under your fence during the summer, their house may be too hot. If you can, move the house to a shaded area or keep on a fan. Supply a large water bowl that the dog can’t spillover and make sure it’s always full.
All for Naught; No Results
If you’ve done all the above and your dog is still committed to digging its way to China, create a space in the backyard specific for the dog to dig in.
First, define the borders of the dog’s digging territory. You can use a child’s sandbox or build your own structure. Get creative and resourceful if need be.
Then, cover the area with loose soil and/or sand. Make it more attractive to signal to your dog that this is their area and bury their favorite toys in the loose soil.
When you see them digging in their area, show your dog that it’s doing the right thing. Bestow regular rewards and give high praises to them.
If you see them digging in unwanted areas, like under your fence. Be firm and repetitive, giving a short command letting them know you don’t like this. Immediately take them to their digging space.
With dogs, repetition is key and necessary. Training it to do this with effective results may take some effort, but it will be worth the try if your dog stops digging under the fence.
The Final Straw Solution
Following these simple steps will hopefully get your dog to stop digging under your fence. Just remember, it’s completely natural for your dog to dig in the dirt. So, it will do neither you nor your dog any good to get mad, yell, upset, or mete out punishment.
You may need to consider keeping your dog indoors at all times. They will have to have an enclosed space with plenty of room to move without destroying carpeting or furniture. This will accompany monitored bathroom breaks in the back yard and more walking than twice a day.
If you try everything and cannot get the dog to stop digging under your fence on their own, a canine behavioral specialist may have to come in to help out. This is especially true if your dog is a rescue that has tendencies toward anxiety and nervousness due to past abuses.
Being negative, cruel, or even violent will not help matters and continue vicious cycles you may not be able to control. Use patience and exercise love to coax your furry friend to stop digging in unwanted places, like under the fence.