When it comes to your yard, you want your dog to have fun but not too much fun that it starts causing damage. Unfortunately for pet owners, many dogs see a fence as more of a challenge than a boundary and will turn their unsupervised playtime into an underground escape.
So how can you leave your dog in the backyard without risking them digging under your fence? Here are our top ten battle-tested tips to stop your dog from digging under the fence.
Bury Rocks Or Chicken Wire Under The Fence
Burying rocks (preferably flat ones), or plastic chicken wire in the soil, one or two feet below the surface of the fence, will prevent your canine from getting underneath the fence. Likewise burying the bottom of the wall one or two feet in the ground will be equally effective. However, owners should be careful with sticking metal obstructions beneath the surface as it can potentially harm the dog’s paws. A more high tech deterrent would be adding a wireless invisible fence, where a transmitter delivers an electric jolt to the dog’s collar if they get too close.
Create A Designated Digging Zone
Some dogs, especially terriers which were bred to hunt small animals, are innate diggers and will want to scratch that itch no matter what. Creating a self-contained sandbox in the yard will provide your pet with a less destructive outlet for those urges. It can either be a literal dog sandbox or just a designated area in the yard, where through positive reinforcement it’s made clear this spot is okay to dig.
Exterminate Invasive Animals
Dogs are creatures of instincts, it’s possible your dog is digging up the fence trying to catch rodents or other burrowing animals that it’s encountering in the yard. Calling an exterminator to get rid of any unwanted pests on the property will alleviate the need for man’s best friend to take matters into their own paws.
Your Dog Might Be Bored
Sometimes dogs start digging because they’re bored or not getting enough exercise. Make sure your dog is being walked at least twice a day and has enough toys in the backyard to keep them occupied. Be sure to rotate the toys as well to increase stimulation.
In some case, dogs are digging holes because they’re too hot and are trying to cool down in the dirt or because it’s wet and windy out and they’re looking for protection. Sounds like thunder can frighten a dog, so they begin looking for hiding places to feel more secure. Providing either a traditional doghouse or any structure that protects them from the elements will address that problem.
Spay Or Neuter
Dogs reach sexual maturity at around 6 months, and male dogs will subsequently become interested in seeking out females. Studies show that sexual roaming decreases in 90% of the cases after a male dog is neutered. Having a female dog sprayed eliminates the risk of them becoming pregnant if they escape. This method of birth control not only decreases the number of unwanted pets, but it also increases the likelihood that you’ll be able to keep wanted pets where they’re supposed to be.
Experiment With Dog Repellent
You already know canines have an enhanced sense of smell, and some scents are less appealing to them than others. Generally speaking, dogs hate the smell of cayenne peppers and it’s also a mild irritant to their eyes, nose, and throat. They also hate the smell of vinegar and have an extreme dislike of ammonia.
Sprinkling cayenne peppers around the fence should act as a short term deterrent to canine digging. Using vinegar and ammonia in the yard is a little more tricky as it can kill the lawn or flowerbeds. One workaround is soaking biodegradable coffee filters in either vinegar or ammonia, letting it dry, and then cutting the dried filters into strips laid out around the fence.
Address Separation Anxiety
If your dog is escaping right after you leave or hanging around the house even after they escape, that could be a sign they have separation anxiety.
One way to address that separation anxiety is through Independence Training, where you give the dog a treat after spending increasingly longer periods of time in a room away from them. Another great option is to enroll your dog in doggy daycare so they can be social while you are away at work.
Correct The Behavior In The Moment
If you are there during the escape attempt, your chances of correcting this behavior skyrocket. If you see your dog digging under the fence, either squirt them with a hose or make a loud sound. This will let them know you are not pleased with their activity and eventually they will stop.
Motion Activated Sprinkler Systems
Getting a motion activated sprinkler system is a great workaround both for making sure your dog doesn’t associate you with them getting sprayed with water and will also make sure the fence edge is protected when you’re not around. As dogs are known to dig up non-motion activated sprinkler systems; getting a sprinkler that will spray approaching animals might be a solid purchase, even if your dog isn’t digging under the fence.
It might be a challenge balancing your desire to give your dog as much outside time as possible while managing their inherent desire to dig. By experimenting with the strategies we’ve outlined, there’s no question you can keep that fence safe and the escape routes minimized. Solutions are attainable both through tactical maneuvers like planting underground obstructions like rocks or chicken wire and using dog repellent; or through addressing underlying behavioral issues like the pet not having enough stimulation or getting separation anxiety.
Once the problem is solved that will, of course, allow more focus on what you really care about, which is getting to spend more quality time hanging out with your dog!
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