How to stop a dog from digging under the fence.

Effective Solutions to Prevent Your Dog's Under-Fence Escapes

Dog digging under a fence, a behavior as old as dogs themselves, can be a perplexing issue for pet owners. I know it was for me. Oh, the time it took and the things I had to do to stop my tears was a task! 

From Jack Russell Terriers to German Shepherds, many dog breeds exhibit this natural “dog dig” behavior. However, when a dog starts digging under a fence, it can lead to worries about safety and the integrity of your yard. In this article, we’ll explore effective strategies to stop dogs from digging, particularly under fences.

dog digging under fence

Table of Contents:

Understanding Dog's Digging Behavior:

Interestingly, a dog’s digging behavior can stem from various instincts. Dogs have a natural propensity to dig holes. Burrowing animals, like scent hounds, some dogs want to bury bones, and what better place than under the fence? 

Digging can be a rewarding enrichment activity, so patience is key. Furthermore, separation anxiety can also cause them to dig, often under fences, as they seek comfort or an escape. My dog has separation anxiety, but not only dug under the fence; she peed on my wood floors when I wasn’t home, so hang tough! You got this!

Environmental Enrichment: The Key to a Dig-Free Yard:

Importantly, dogs often dig out of boredom and like to pretend they are an escape artist, so providing ample physical and mental stimulation is crucial.


Here are some ways to enrich your dog's environment:

Scheduled Play and Exercise

Regular exercise is vital. Ensure your dog gets enough physical activity to tire them out. The more exercise, the better.

Mental Stimulation

Use puzzle toys and training sessions to keep your dog’s mind engaged. I have an article on this that can help. 

Behavioral Strategies to Stop Digging

Remarkably, dogs have urges, just like humans do, and they often dig under fences due to boredom or lack of exercise. Increasing your dog’s physical exercise can significantly reduce their urge to dig. 

A long leash can help manage a dog’s behavior in the yard, and regular playtime in a designated digging zone can satisfy their digging urges safely.


How to stop a dog from digging under the fence.

Training and Behavioral Strategies:

Simultaneously, addressing the behavioral aspect of your dog’s digging habits is equally important. Here are some techniques that worked for me!

Positive Reinforcement:

When your dog is digging, using commands like “no dig” and rewarding your dog for compliance can be effective. 

Redirecting Behavior:

Engage your dog in more rewarding activities like playing with toys or going for walks whenever they start digging. This not only stops the immediate behavior but also helps them associate stopping digging with positive outcomes.

Loud Noise Deterrents:

Sometimes, creating a loud noise whenever the dog begins digging can fix the issue. I have a wonderful little gadget I found on the cheap you may be interested in. It’s great for chewers, diggers, biters, chasers, barkers, and so much more.  I use this every time my dog digs. A spray bottle can also be used gently to deter digging.

Lawn Fixtures to help with your dog's urges:

Fill in any existing holes your dog may find an existing hole tempting, so keep new holes filled. If there are any regular “problem areas” it might make sense to cover up the area with landscaping or other lawn fixtures.

How to stop a dog from digging under the fence.

Special Considerations for Specific Dog Breeds:

Interestingly, certain breeds, like border collies and scent hounds, might require more mental stimulation to deter dog digging. Implementing rewarding enrichment activities tailored to your dog’s breed can be more effective than general strategies.

Tailoring Strategies to Your Dog's Needs:

Importantly, it’s essential to remember that many dogs dig due to various reasons. While one strategy might work for some dogs, others might require a combination of methods. Regularly monitoring your dog’s behavior and adjusting your approach as needed is key to successfully stopping them from digging under the fence. You can always try a local dog trainer if you have exhausted all options.

Mating Urges:

Mating instincts can often surpass a dog’s inclination to remain within the yard. If your dog exhibits signs of stress, it’s common for them to attempt escaping the yard, particularly when feeling confined. Dogs, unlike humans, lack sweat glands but have a keen sense of smell for detecting female dogs. This strong mating drive could lead to your dog seeking ways to escape. Anxiety in dogs, linked to a dislike for confinement, can further intensify their escape efforts.

How to stop a dog from digging under the fence.

Addressing Separation Anxiety:

For dogs suffering from this, creating a safe and comforting environment is key. This could include providing a secure dog house or engaging in activities that soothe their anxiety. Interestingly, increasing their sense of security can be crucial.

Engaging in more interactive play, providing comfort toys, or even doggy daycare can help alleviate this anxiety, thereby reducing their urge to escape by digging under the fence.Your dog could be experiencing separation anxiety or spooked by a scary stimulus like a thunderstorm or fireworks. Usually, during storms, if I am at home, I stay close to my dog and reassure her everything is ok.

Furthermore, if you leave your dog out in the yard and they are left alone for long periods of time without the company of their human family. This can cause the urge to “anxiety dig.”

Inclement weather:

Is your dog trying to escape the heat or cold?  In summer, it’s common for dogs to dig to find a cool patch to sit in. Make sure your dog has other alternatives to keep cool. Ensure there are shaded areas throughout the day.

The Challenge with a Chain Link Fence:

Chain link fences, while popular, can often be the least effective against a dog’s digging urges. Conversely, a privacy fence is great for dogs because with a chain link the dog can easily spot the other side, increasing their desire to dig under. Therefore, reinforcing these types of fences with dog-safe digging deterrents is essential.

Addressing the Specific Challenge of Chain Link Fences:

Notably, chain link fences can pose a unique challenge as they often do not extend below the ground level, making them susceptible to a dog’s digging behavior. In such cases, reinforcing the base of the fence with additional physical barriers becomes vital.

dog digging chain link fence

Effective Deterrents to Stop Dogs from Dog Digging:

It’s essential to understand the root of your dog’s digging to apply the right deterrents.

Barrier Solutions: Creating a Dig-Proof Fence

Physical Barriers-

BuryP00 Chicken Wire: Attach wire to the bottom of the fence; burying or attaching some chicken wire to the bottom of or similar material under the fence line can deter digging. The discomfort it causes discourages dogs from continuing to dig.

You can also anchor a small strip of plastic fencing to the bottom of any dog fence, making it difficult for your dog to dig out.

Rocks or Heavy Stones: Placing large rocks or heavy stones along the fence can act as a natural physical barrier, especially in areas where your dog has already started to dig holes.

Concrete Footers: Pouring concrete along the fence line can permanently fill gaps and prevent dogs from digging under the fence. This method is particularly effective for persistent diggers or escape artists.

Pile Gravel

This acts as a physical deterrent, making it difficult for dogs to dig through.


Commercial Products: (know your fence line)

Fence Rollers: These can be installed on top of the fence to prevent dogs from getting the leverage they need to dig.


Underground Fences: Pairing a physical fence with an underground electric fence can be a deterrent, particularly for dogs experiencing separation anxiety or those driven by a strong urge to escape.

Never Use Aggressive Chemical Repellents:

Remember, it’s important to avoid aggressive chemical repellents, as these can cause serious illness or even death in dogs. Also, stay away from sharp objects or hard obstructions because they could injure your dog.

dog digging

Ongoing Fence Maintenance and Dog Supervision:

Regularly inspecting and maintaining your fence is crucial. Look for any weak spots or damage and repair them promptly. Monitoring your dog’s behavior and understanding their needs can prevent digging before it becomes a habit.


In conclusion, none of this means your dog isn’t happy at home. Stopping a dog from digging under the fence is not a losing battle. By understanding your dog’s behavior and employing a combination of physical barriers, increased physical exercise, and targeted mental stimulation, you can effectively address this issue. 

Remember, each dog is unique, and patience is essential in finding the right solution for your furry friend. You will need to work with your dog to train them to respect their new physical barrier so he or she doesn’t hurt themselves. 

How to stop a dog from digging under the fence.
Thanks for reading! Good luck with getting your pup to stop digging! Please leave a comment if any of this worked for you or if you found success a completely different way!

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