Why Dogs Dig Under Fences and What You Can Do About it?

Pet Care


November 2, 2021

Digging is a natural impulse for any dog. Some breeds are more prone to it than others, but every dog digs digging – even if their owners and neighbors don’t. You love your dog, but probably don’t love what your dog can do to your lawn or those next door.

But why does this happen? What can you do about it? Let’s take a look at the reasons for this along with some dog digging under fence solutions.

Causes of Dogs Digging Under the Fence

There are many potential reasons why your dog may be digging under a fence, so you’ll need to pay attention to the context in which it occurs. Some of the most common reasons why dogs dig under a fence can include:

  • Boredom: If you don’t give your dogs a proper amount of exercise, they can start to get bored, and digging can be a way for them to get rid of some of that energy.
  • Anxiety: This can range from fear to apprehension to them disliking their surroundings.
  • Attention-Seeking: Your dog loves you, so if you aren’t paying enough attention to it, your dog can start to dig to try and get you to notice it.
  • Hiding Something: Dogs like to hide things such as bones, and digging holes and hiding bones and other things in them is a classic example of this.

   1. Entertain Them

As mentioned above, neglecting dogs can lead to them having a lot of pent up energy. However, it isn’t just a lack of attention that can lead to a dog digging under a fence. After all, we all have to leave our dogs alone sometimes, and not every dog goes tearing through the lawn, so what’s going on here?

Most of us give our dogs toys to keep them entertained. However, if you don’t give them any toys, or ways to entertain themselves, they’ll need to unburden themselves of that excess energy somehow, which can result in digging.

Some things you can do about this include:

  • Walk your dog regularly. How often you need to do this comes down to your dog’s personality and its
  • Play with them regularly in a way that ensures they are physically active (for example, throwing a ball or frisbee for your dog to fetch).
  • Train your dogs by trying to teach them some tricks.

   2. Dog Breed Expectations

Some dogs are more prone to digging than others. Your Shi-Tzu may not go digging up your backyard, whereas terriers are notorious for being a big fan of digging. What’s more, some breeds are more active than others. If your dog’s breed is hyperactive, they may need more exercise, lest they resort to digging.

Some breeds which love to dig include:

  • Terriers, such as Jack Russel and Cairn Terriers
  • Dachshunds
  • Alaskan Malamutes
  • Siberian Huskies
  • Beagles
  • Border Collies
  • Miniature Schnauzers

   3. Comfort Them

If your dog is digging holes as a coping mechanism for its anxiety, you’ll naturally want to pet and comfort your dog. However, comforting your dog can involve more than that. The key here isn’t to be genetic but to address your dog’s specific needs.

For example, dogs that are overheated or stuck in hot weather can sometimes dig cool dirt to cope. Hugging them obviously isn’t going to solve that problem, so you’ll need to do what you can to cool them down, such as give them more water or bring them into a cooler shady area.

   4. Beware Attention-Seeking Behaviors

As important as it is to give your dog enough attention, you don’t want to overdo it. Just as you don’t want to reward a toddler for misbehaving, you don’t want to give a dog extra treats or hugs for doing something wrong. You thus need to strike a careful balance between giving your dog the right amount of attention but only for the right reasons.

   5. Inspect and Obstruct the Digging Site

If your dog keeps digging in a single spot, see if there’s a specific reason why. Is it hiding something there? Is there something there that keeps attracting your dog to that spot? Is your dog’s digging habit part of a bigger problem?

In the meantime, consider obstructing the area where your dog is digging by filling in the hole or putting up a barrier such as a fence. Alternatively, you might want to put up a chain link fence around the digging site.

   6. Set up a Digging Area

As mentioned above, it is perfectly natural for your dog to want to dig. On its own, that’s fine. The problem comes when your dog digs in the wrong places. So why not take the positive step of setting up a digging area for your dog?

Just as cats have litter boxes set aside for them as the “proper” place for them to relieve themselves, you can create a sandbox or other area for your dog to relieve its urge to dig.

   7. Don’t Punish Your Dog

One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to stop their dog from digging is to punish their dog when they catch it. On the one hand, the impulse to do so is understandable. You know that a punishment can, in the right circumstances, be used as a way of correcting bad behavior.

On the other hand, this doesn’t tend to work with dogs digging holes because it directly reinforces some of the reasons they dig in the first place. For example, if your dog is digging because it is filled with anxiety, punishing your dog is only going to make it more anxious. Positive reinforcement such as treats has a better chance of positively impacting your dog’s psyche than negative reinforcement such as punishments.

As such, try rewarding your dog for digging in the digging sandbox or similar area that you have set up for it. This will help reinforce the point that it’s okay for them to dig, just not in certain places.

   8. Interrupt Bad Digging Choices

If you do catch your dog digging in the wrong place, interrupt it immediately. You don’t want bad habits to fester or get reinforced. Don’t punish your dog, but simply play a loud sound or do something else to distract your dog so you can get its attention. Once you have it, give them a firm “no.”

Having a dog that likes to dig in awkward or inappropriate areas can be incredibly frustrating. However, you have to keep your patience. Remember that this is also probably very difficult for your dog. Digging is a natural impulse, so all of this can be very confusing for your dog as you start to correct its behavior.

However, this doesn’t have to end in frustration. With enough patience and compassion, you can correct your dog’s bad digging habits and keep it happy while saving your lawn.