How to Stop Your Dog from Digging Under a Fence

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how to stop a dog from digging under a fence

Is your dog constantly digging under your fence?

Digging dogs can be incredibly annoying. If they try going under your fence, it’s even worse. Not only does it destroy your yard, it can also become dangerous if your doggo tries to escape.

Luckily, there are ways to deal with your dog’s favorite hobby. In this article you’ll learn 9 solutions to stop your dog from digging under a fence. At least one of them will definitely help you save your yard. But you might also want to combine several to get the best result.

Here’s a quick overview: you can stop your dog from digging under the fence by making the area near the fence uncomfortable to dig – for instance with an underlaying fence, chicken wire or stones or bushes in front of it. Or you can work on the behavior by redirecting it to a sandbox or simply making sure he’s getting enough exercise during the day. That will make him too tired to dig.

Why Do Dogs Dig Under Fences?

There are few things more frustrating than a dog that keeps digging up your yard. This is especially true if they’re digging under your fence!

If your dog is turning out to be quite the escape artist, you’re in luck. Today we’ll be discussing how to get your dog to stop digging under your fence.

But first, let’s talk about why your dog is digging.


Boredom is a frequent cause of undesirable behavior in dogs. Many owners think that their dog is just bad and needs to be trained, when a lot of the time the dog is just bored.

There are lots of signs that might indicate your dog is feeling bored. Being generally destructive around the house, begging you for attention and, yes, digging are examples.

If a dog isn’t getting enough stimulation, he’ll find ways to entertain himself. Digging up your yard is one way he’s trying to amuse himself.

To learn more about dog boredom and how to deal with it, check out these articles:

Also get my free guide for a calm dog to get the 3-step process I used to get my hyper Miniature Poodle Baloo to be a calm cutie!

Hunting Instinct

All dogs have a predatory instinct. Yes, even your little Shih Tzu!

Dogs are descended from wolves, after all. Some breeds especially have their hunting instincts ingrained in them. Terriers, for instance, have been bred to be able to dig as part of their hunting instinct.

So if your dog is digging, it could be he smells something that has triggered his predatory instinct and he is trying to get at it.

Terriers were bred to dig while hunting small prey, such as rabbits
Terriers were bred to dig while hunting small prey, such as rabbits

Comfort and Protection

This is another instinctual thing for dogs. In the wild, dogs dig holes to make them harder to see when they’re going to sleep. It offers them extra protection from other predators and threats.

Plus, it’s also generally cooler the lower you dig. This also helps dogs sleep during the day as they get a comfy, cool bed that way.

You might also see this kind of behavior when your dog is curling up in his dog bed for the night. If you see him digging at his blankets when he’s getting ready to settle down, that’s his instinct kicking in. He’s trying to get as low down as possible, to make it harder to see him.

Trying to Escape

There are a few reasons why your dog might be trying to escape your yard. It could be that your dog is trying to get out in the world and explore.

Alternatively, he might be trying to escape because something in the yard scares him, like a noise. Or perhaps he just feels anxious in the yard by himself. If your dog isn’t fixed, he might be trying to escape to find a mate.

If your dog is digging to escape, it’s important to figure out why he’s trying to escape. If it’s just to see more of the world, he probably needs to be going for more walks. Try switching up your route, to keep things exciting for him.

If he’s anxious being in the yard by himself, or is easily spooked by sights and sounds, he probably needs to build up more confidence.

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Separation Anxiety

If your dog struggles with separation anxiety, there are likely many other symptoms he’s showing. Digging up your yard is just one sign he has separation anxiety.

He might be destructive inside the house too, or visibly anxious and upset if he sees you preparing to leave the house.

Digging is one way for your dog to release his anxious energy. It might also be an attempt to get out of the yard and follow you, wherever you’ve gone.

Separation anxiety can be severe, and really negatively impact yours and your dog’s lives. Luckily, there are ways to work with and treat separation anxiety that will help your dog calm down.

Here’s also a good video to help your dog deal with you leaving more easily.

How to Stop Your Dog from Digging Under a Fence

Let’s look at what you can do to stop your dog from digging under your fence, next.

1. Make Sure He Gets Enough Physical and Mental Exercise

If your dog is digging out of boredom, that’s a sign he needs to be kept busier. Start taking him for more walks or jogs to tire him out, and choose different routes. Add in some more playtime during the day. A good twenty minutes or so of fetch is an awesome way to burn off energy. Plus it’s fun for you and your dog!

And don’t just make sure he’s getting physical stimulation. Your dog needs mental exercise too. Consider teaching him some new tricks, or making him work for his food. You can also buy your dog a Kong toy and fill it with treats, or use a snuffle mat.

If you’re unsure what some good brain games for your dog are, here are 21 ideas to get you started.

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2. Provide Enough Ways for Your Dog to Cool Down During Summer

Your dog might be digging under your fence to find a shadier spot to lie in. If that’s the case, your dog needs some better ways to stay cool.

One thing you can do is set up a shaded area in your yard for your dog to sit in. You can also lay out some damp towels for them to lie on. Or a cooling mat is great as well.

Make sure you leave out a bowl with clean water for them to drink, so they don’t get dehydrated. And, if you want to keep your dog cool while having fun, consider buying a splash pool. Your dog will cool down as he plays in the water.

Overheating can be a serious issue for dogs in summer. Make sure to go to these articles next to learn more:

3. Provide a Sandbox for Digging

Sometimes digging is just part of who your dog is. But that doesn’t mean that you have to keep letting him dig up your fence.

If your dog is just naturally a digger, consider putting a sandbox in your yard. This gives him a designated spot to dig in, while stopping him from destroying the integrity of your fence.

You can either buy one like this or you can build one yourself:

4. Place Some Large Rocks in Front of the Fence

One way to get your dog to stop digging under your fence is to try and stop him from getting to your fence in the first place. You can purchase decorative landscaping stones from your local home and hardware store.

Line them up along the base of your fence, partially burying them in the ground. Now your dog’s access to the fence will be limited, and he won’t be able to dig through the rocks.

5. Bury Chicken Wire Under the Fence

Another way to physically stop your dog from digging under the fence is chicken wire.

Again, you can purchase this from your local home and hardware store. Installing the chicken wire under your fence will make it too uncomfortable for your dog to dig. Just make sure that there are no sharp edges poking out that could hurt anybody.

This is what it looks like:

6. Bury a Fence Underneath Your Fence

It’ll take some work and some elbow grease, but another way to block off your dog is by burying the bottom of your fence deeper in the earth.

This will act as kind of a second fence underneath your fence. The further down it is, the more difficult it will be for your dog to dig under it. The Humane Society of the United States recommends burying it one to two feet deep.

7. Make the Area Near the Fence Uncomfortable for Your Dog to Walk On

If the ground near your fence is too uncomfortable for your dog to walk on, he won’t want to go over there.

Again, you can use rocks as an impediment, as they will be uncomfortable on his feet. You can also use chicken wire or chain link fence.

If you have a green thumb, you can also try planting some thorny bushes or flowers. Roses, firethorn, or raspberry bushes are all great options that you can plant along your fence. Their thorny stems will make it uncomfortable for your dog to dig around. Plus you’ll either have beautiful flowers to enjoy, or some delicious berries for the summer!

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8. Don’t Leave Him Unsupervised

It might seem obvious, but if your dog tends to dig when he’s alone in the yard, it’s best not to leave him unsupervised. When you let your dog out, join him and keep an eye on him. This way, you can catch and redirect him when he starts digging around your fence.

This is especially true if your dog struggles with separation anxiety, or just feels anxious in the yard by himself. Of course, this may not be a sustainable long-term option. It is, however, a great way to start working on counter-conditioning and desensitization. You can join your dog outside, and then slowly and positively progress to being able to let him out on his own.

9. Get BrainTraining4Dogs for Further Guidance

If your dog’s digging is coming from behavioral problems, then BrainTraining4Dogs is an awesome training that will be able to help you. This course covers digging along with every other behavioral problem under the sun. It covers everything in-depth, plus offers full support.

Check out this link for Dogpackr’s special offer!

Field Dogs 300 x 600

Related Questions

Alright, so we’re done with the bulk part of how to deal with dogs digging under fences.

Let’s quickly look at a few related questions before wrapping up.

Can You Use Cayenne Pepper to Stop a Dog from Digging?

Your dog’s nose is super sensitive, so it makes sense that putting smells he’ll dislike around your fence will help deter him from digging. Cayenne pepper won’t harm your dog, but it will irritate his nose, eyes, and throat. Other strong-smelling things like citrus and vinegar will also be unappealing to his senses.

So yes, you can use cayenne pepper to stop a dog from digging.

However, that doesn’t get to the root of the problem. It’s best to try some of the above solutions first, especially if the digging is a behavioral problem. Definitely make sure that your dog is also getting enough exercise, and that you’re working on any underlying behavioral issues that might be the reason he’s digging.

How Do I Keep Dogs from Digging Up My Yard?

If your dog is digging all over your yard, don’t worry. You can still use all the tips we discussed today. I’ve also written an article specifically about how to stop a dog from digging holes. This article will give you more specific tips for holes all over your yard. Here are the most important aspects:

Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise, make sure you’ve got enough ways for him to keep cool during the summer, and don’t leave him unsupervised in the yard.

If digging is just part of your dog’s personality, then buying a sandbox or designating a specific part of the yard he’s allowed to dig in is a good idea. It’ll take some work, but you can teach him that it’s okay for him to dig, as long as it’s in the designated area.

How to stop your dog from digging under a fence
Some dogs just love to dig! By providing a designated area, you can direct his behavior to a place where he’s allowed to do it.

How to Stop a Dog from Digging around Trees

If your dog keeps digging around trees, he might be looking for shade or water to cool off.

Again, make sure that you’re providing enough ways for him to cool down while he’s outside in the summer.

Also, make sure that your dog is getting enough mental and physical stimulation. After all, a tired dog is a happy dog!

And if none of these methods are working, you can spray or sprinkle some scents around that will help deter him. Also, consider investing in BrainTraining4Dogs, since digging is one of the topics this course covers.


It’s frustrating to watch your dog dig up your yard. This is especially true if he’s digging around your fence, since it means he might eventually dig a hole big enough to slip out of.

Thankfully, there are ways to keep your dog from digging under your fence. The first step, as always, is to understand why he’s digging. Whether it’s separation anxiety, boredom, or just a way for him to feel safe and protected, there are ways to work with these behaviors.

Keep your dog stimulated and happy, with both physical and mental activities. Make sure he has enough ways to cool down during the summer. And use preventative measures like large rocks, chicken wire, or thick, thorny bushes to limit his access to the fence.

Also, investing in a course like BrainTraining4Dogs will help you with any behavioral problems your dog is having.

Digging is an incredibly frustrating behavior. But with a little work, and a lot of patience, you can help your dog understand that digging under your fence is bad behavior. Soon you’ll be able to enjoy your yard again, without your dog digging it all up!

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