17 Solutions for Dogs Who Dig Under Fences (and 4 Things NOT to Do)

By Max Turner 9 Min Read


Dogs who dig under fences can be a serious problem for many owners. Digging under fences is a common behavior among dogs of all sizes and breeds, and is an especially difficult issue for owners living in colder climates, where the soil remains hard year-round. Although many owners consider outdoor enclosures and underground barriers to be the only way to stop their dogs from digging, there are a variety of less expensive and less disruptive options available. In this article, we’ll discuss 17 solutions for dogs who dig under fences, as well as four things that owners should avoid for the best chance at preventing their pet from breaching the yard.

17 Solutions for Dogs Who Dig Under Fences

1. Use a Deterrent

The most straightforward way to stop a dog from digging is to use a deterrent, such as a spray and/or paw spray. This type of spray typically has a bitter or unpleasant taste, and when applied to a specific spot, can help to discourage your dog from returning to the same area.

2. Create Incentives on the Other Side of the Fence

Another way to try to discourage your pet from digging is to create incentives on the other side of the fence. For instance, you can bury pieces of treats, toys, and other desirable objects close to the fence, so that your pet may be enticed to remain in your yard rather than digging under the fence to find out what lies beyond.

3. Change the Soil

In areas where the soil is hard and difficult to dig, your dog may be less likely to dig, or at least it will take him longer to reach the other side of the fence. To make the soil even more difficult for your pet to dig through, you can add a layer of large gravel at the base of the fence.

4. Provide Fetch Toys

If your pet loves to dig, it’s worth trying to find a constructive outlet for this behavior. Providing toys such as balls or frisbees can help to redirect your pet’s digging instinct into playing fetch instead.

5. Obstruct Your Pet’s View

Some dogs may be enticed to dig because they can see something on the other side of the fence. To help prevent this, you can place obstacles such as lattice panels or thick shrubs in front of the fence so that your pet will be less likely to be tempted.

6. Increase Exercise

A tired dog is much less likely to dig. Increasing your pet’s daily exercise can help prevent your pet from having the energy to dig under the fence.

7. Train Your Dog

Training can also be beneficial for curbing digging behavior. Training your dog to come when called may help to decrease the amount of energy your pet puts into digging.

8. Add Temporary Fencing

Adding a temporary fence may help deter your pet from digging. Installing a temporary fence can be an effective way to contain your pet in a specific area without having to use a permanent solution.

9. Bury Punishment

If you catch your pet in the act of digging, you can bury punishment in the form of pepper, hot sauce or another unpleasant substance. Be sure to only use this method when you catch your pet in the act of digging in order for it to be effective.

10. Put up Hot-Wired Fencing

Putting up hot-wired fencing is an effective way to stop your pet from entering or leaving your yard. This type of fencing sends a mild shock in order to deter animals from attempting to breach it.

11. Use Scent Repellents

Scent repellents may also be an effective way to stop your pet from digging. These repellents usually contain natural essential oils, such as citronella, which are unpleasant to many animals.

12. Use Foul-Tasting Repellents

Foul-tasting repellents, such as cayenne pepper, garlic and hot sauce, can also be effective in discouraging animals from digging. This method typically involves spraying the repellent directly onto the fence or ground on the other side of the fence.

13. Trim Bushes and Trees Near the Fence

If your pet’s digging is being encouraged by bushes or trees that are close to the fence, you may need to trim them back in order to create a clear line of sight. This can help to decrease your pet’s motivation for digging.

14. Add Some Shade and Water

If your pet loves digging and playing in the dirt, one of the best solutions may be to provide him with a designated digging area in your yard. By adding some shade and water, you may be able to entice him to remain in this area rather than trying to escape your yard by digging.

15. Add Chicken Wire or Bricks to the Base of the Fence

Creating a barrier at the base of the fence may help to make it more difficult for your pet to dig underneath it. Chicken wire can be used to create a raised barrier that can deter your pet from digging. Bricks and concrete blocks can also be used to create a more permanent barrier.

16. Plant a Hedge Along the Fence

Adding a hedge along the fence may make it more difficult for your pet to dig. Plus, a hedge can help to block your pet’s view of the area on the other side of the fence, making it less tempting for him to attempt to escape.

17. Install an Underground Barrier

If all else fails, you can always install an underground barrier to help keep your pet from digging. This type of barrier works by sending an electronic signal that is only triggered when something digs into it. This can help to alert you when your pet is attempting to dig under the fence.

4 Things NOT to Do

In addition to the solutions discussed above, it’s also important to be aware of four things that you should not do to try to stop your pet from digging.

1. Punishing Your Pet

It’s important to remember that punishing your pet is never effective. Punishment may only cause your pet to become fearful or aggressive and further entrench the digging behavior.

2. Bribing Your Pet

Attempting to bribe your pet with treats or other desirable objects is also rarely effective. This can lead to confusion and anxiety, as your pet may not understand why he is being given a reward for something he’s not supposed to do.

3. Excessive Confinement

Attempting to confine your pet for long periods of time or restrict him from outdoor activities can actually result in an increase in digging and other problem behaviors.

4. Adding Filtration Material to the Soil

Adding filtration material, such as gravel or sand, to the soil can be counterproductive as it may make the soil easier to dig. This can make it even easier for your pet to breach the fence.


Dogs who dig under fences can be a major problem for many pet owners. Fortunately, there are a variety of solutions available to help owners address this behavior in a humane and effective way. In this article, we have discussed 17 solutions for dogs who dig under fences as well as four things that should be avoided. With some planning and patience, many owners are able to successfully keep their dogs from digging under the fence.

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Max Turner is a passionate American dog lover and writer, dedicated to sharing his knowledge and experiences through his blog, WeLoveDogs.com. With a lifelong fascination for dogs and a strong bond with his own furry friends, Max offers valuable insights and practical tips to dog owners and enthusiasts worldwide. His blog covers a wide range of topics, including training techniques, health and wellness, breed profiles, responsible ownership, and fun activities. Max's engaging writing style, combined with his expertise and genuine love for dogs, make WeLoveDogs.com an invaluable resource for anyone looking to enhance their relationship with their canine companions. Max Turner's blog, WeLoveDogs.com, is a go-to destination for dog enthusiasts seeking expert advice and valuable insights. Max's deep-rooted passion for dogs, coupled with his extensive knowledge of dog behavior, training, health care, and breeds, enables him to provide practical tips and guidance. From training techniques and health tips to breed spotlights and responsible ownership, Max covers it all. With engaging content and a commitment to promoting a fulfilling and joyous life with dogs, WeLoveDogs.com is a trusted resource for dog owners looking to strengthen their bond with their furry friends.
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