Behavior: Dog Digging Under Fence

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This is our review of the best products and methods to address a dog digging under fences.

Keeping your canine securely contained helps your dog live safely and is a responsibility. But if you have a furry escape artist in your care, finding ways to keep them contained can be a challenge. If you have a dog digging under fences, it doesn’t take long before your determined dog is on the other side of the fence. 

Our staff at Dog Training Boss is dedicated to helping owners find the best training techniques for their dogs. Often this means identifying the behavior that you’d like to change. We’ve spent hours researching and listening to experts about dog behaviors and what training and products might be the most successful. 

We’ll take a look at why some dogs are set on digging under fences, what dog owners can do to help break the cycle, and detail training steps and products specific to modifying this particular behavior. 

Best Fence Barrier For Small Dogs:  Dig Defence No-Dig Barrier Small/Medium

Best Budget Fence Barrier (Small Dogs): Garden Animal Barrier Fence 

Best Fence Barrier For Larger Dogs: Dig Defence No-Dig XL Barrier 

Best Training Collar for Diggers: GoodBoy Mini No Shock Remote Collar.

Best Brain Puzzle Outdoor Toy: KADTC Dog Puzzles

Best Chew Toy: Kong Classic

We’ve used our resources to compile a guide to what dog owners can do to help redirect and train a dog digging under fences. We have also included a few products that may help with your success.

Guide: What You Can Do

There are many reasons why dog owners want to change digging behavior. Escaped dogs may get injured, cause damage to property, or be picked up by local animal control organizations. Here are a few resources to help guide and limit digging behavior.

Fence Barriers

You can purchase fence barriers that work to reinforce your existing fence line. Many have long stakes that can be hammered into the ground and stand against the existing fence. Most are easy to install with a hammer and gardening gloves.

Dig Defence No-Dig Barrier for Small and Medium Dogs

We reviewed several fence barriers and our overall best choice for small and medium-sized dogs is the Dig Defence No-Dig Barrier. Each Barrier is 8″ long and 32″ wide with a 2” spike space.

Customers like the sturdy, heavier design that keeps dogs from digging through.

Some dog owners mentioned that it can be more challenging to install if you live someplace with harder ground since it needs to be hammered quite deep. 

KYATE Garden Animal Barrier Fence

A budget-friendly choice for smaller dogs is the KYATE Garden Animal Barrier Fence. This barrier comes in several lengths and most customers liked how easy it is to install. Each fence section is 13″ long and 17″ high. 

There are a handful of reviews that noted that a few of the metal edges could be quite sharp and may need to be covered or fixed to keep your dog safe.

Dig Defence No-Dig Barrier for Larger Dogs

Dig Defence also makes a barrier for large dogs. Each barrier is 15″ long and 24″ wide with a 1.5” spike space.

It’s a heavy-duty design and most dog owners are pleased and say the safety and security is worth the price. 

As with the smaller barriers, some customers mentioned it is easier to install and hammer the longer spikes into the ground if you wait until the soil is damp or after rain. 

Bury Chicken Wire

One inexpensive fix you can try is to become a digger yourself and bury chicken wire at the bottom of your fence. The Humane Society notes to make sure the sharp edges are rolled away from the yard. Next place heavy stones at the base to hold it in place before replacing the fence and smoothing out the dirt and grass. 

Some dog owners have also tried laying chicken wire or chain link fence on the ground around the perimeter of the fence. While it might not be a desired look, it often stops the dog from walking near the fence since they find the wire uncomfortable on their paw. 

While these tricks don’t address the problem, they will make an escape more difficult and less likely.

Redirect the Digging Tendencies

So, you are slowly accepting that your dog is a natural digger. Now it’s time to use that knowledge and work towards more appropriate digging behavior.

If you have the space to allow a digging area for your dog, go for it! A child-sized sandbox or area with a rock/brick edge can help keep the sand in the appropriate area. Some owners have a lot of fun with creating a digging area by hiding toys, kongs, or other pet-safe items for their dog to find. 

Once you notice your dog digging under fences, redirect their behavior immediately towards the designated digging area. 

GoodBoy Mini No Shock Remote Collar

Some dog owners use a tone-only training collar with a remote. Pressing a button on the remote will signal a ‘beep’ on the dog collar which can distract the dog from the behavior or be a useful training tool to repeat ‘beep and redirect’ until the tone is no longer needed. 

Many owners of small and medium-sized dogs like the GoodBoy Mini No Shock Remote Collar. Customers like the lightweight and simple design. It is waterproof and has a range of about 1000 feet, making it a nice option for a dog digging under fences in many backyards.

Many owners also use this collar to help train dogs with excessive barking behavior.

Why Is Your Dog Digging Under Fences?

Some dogs are fence jumpers, some are fence climbers, and still others like to take the route under. A dog digging under fences can cause all kinds of trouble to themselves or others. Understanding why your dog is digging to escape can help you address the behavior.

There are several reasons why your do might be trying to escape. According to the Humane Society, if your dog is trying to dig their way out, it’s possible they are anxious, feeling lonely, or fearful. Also, think about their age and activity level. 

Fearful or Anxious

There are a few ways your can help calm a fearful dog. Outdoors you can provide a safe shelter, like a dog house or someplace similar, that your dog can go to and calm down. 

A dog behavioralist can also provide training and conditioning exercises to help settle fearful and anxious behaviors in your canine. 

Be aware of any loud noises, like nearby construction projects or thunderstorms, that may trigger excessive fearful behavior. 

Speak to your vet if you think your dog could benefit from anxiety medications.

Amount of Time Alone

Consider the amount of time they are left alone, especially if they are the only pet in the yard. If your dog needs to be left alone for long periods of time, it might be a good investment to hire a pet sitter or ask a friend or relative to stop by for some interaction. 

A stimulating toy might also be a good addition on longer days as well. The Humane Society also suggests a few toys that are made specifically to help keep dogs busy. 

KADTC Dog Puzzles

KADTC makes a variety of puzzle treat and food dispensers that might help entertain your canine when you aren’t around.

The wobble feeder in the image to the right is made specifically for larger dogs and can hold more food.

As always, make sure the toy is safe from small pieces that might become a choking hazard. 

KONG Classic

KONGS toys can be filled with a variety of treats and many dogs like to chew on them. KONGS are also dishwasher safe, making them easier to clean and keep bacteria away.

The shape of a KONG adds to the fun – its patterns of bouncing are unpredictable and most Kong owners are generally pleased with the durability of this product. 

KONGS come in a few sizes and different durability levels depending on the strength of chewing.

Active Breeds & Younger Dogs

Some breeds are especially active and require a lot of physical activity to keep them happy and out of (most) trouble. This can be true of younger dogs and puppies that like interaction and playing. 

Take your dog for a long walk, play a game of fetch, or work on training your dog some new commands to help use some of their energy before leaving them alone. 

Catch Them While Digging

One of the reasons that make training a dog digging under fence behavior so challenging is the timing. Many dogs dig when they are left alone and that just happens to be one of the best times to train and help correct the digging behavior. 

Most dog owners understand the value of rewarding good behavior right away and also know how little meaning it is to reward good behavior hours afterward. The same is true for training a dog digging under fences. If you are able to interrupt and correct their behavior as it is happing, your chance of successful training is much higher. 

If you catch your dog digging under the fence, use verbal commands like ‘no dig’ and redirect your dog to a toy, game, or another part of the yard.

If your dog is digging under fences in front of you, meaning they aren’t trying to dig and escape because they are lonely, it’s possible they are simply trying to sniff out insects, roots or anything scent-worthy. You can try distracting your canine with a game of fetch or frisbee and praising the good behavior instead.

Praise them verbally and with treats when they play in the appropriate area. You’ll need to be consistent and repetitive for this training to be effective. 

A Word About Sand

If the area that your dog likes to dig is filled or covered with sand, keep a close eye on the area and make sure the sand doesn’t end up in your dog’s stomach. Sand can be harmful and cause blockages if ingested. The American Kennel Club outlines the dangers of sand impaction in dogs. Visit your vet if you believe your dog has been eating sand.

If you’d like to learn more about materials to use in your backyard, or set up a designated potty area for your canine, take a look at our guide for the best outdoor potty area for your dog.

Our Final Thoughts

If your furry friend has made a habit of being the dog digging under fences in your yard (or neighborhood), there are several reasons why you should focus some attention on training that will not only keep your yard looking good but keep your canine safe and contained. 

No matter the training product or method you choose to help stop your dog from digging under the fence, remember to never chain or tether your dog to keep them confined. Tethering can lead to aggressive behavior or become a safety risk, especially if unsupervised. 

As with all training, the most important consideration is the safety of your dog. If you feel your dog is digging under fences overly aggressively or is getting injured attempting escapes, speak to your vet about other underlying causes and possible treatments that may be a better fit for your specific situation.

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As a parent, dog owner, dog foster caregiver, and writer, I strive to create a loving home environment for all two and four-legged creatures. My background also includes research analysis and journalism. I work closely with animal behavior experts, trainers, and staff at Dog Training Boss to provide clear information that helps dog owners make the best decisions for their canine.

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