Is your beloved pup digging their way to the neighbours? Or worse, digging their way to the road?
It can feel like a losing battle when your precious pup is constantly digging their escape route or dog-sized craters in your garden. But there are plenty of different solutions that you can use to stop your dog from digging under a fence or throughout your garden.
The first thing you need to consider is the underlying reason for your dog digging. By knowing this, you can often pinpoint the best solutions and quickly put an end to the digging.
Why is Your Dog Digging?Most dogs don’t dig to defy or annoy you, though it can feel that way. There is usually a logical reason for their behaviour.
Reason 1: You’re Dog is Anxious
Though anxiety presents itself in many forms in dogs, digging is a common behaviour if your dog is experiencing separation anxiety. Usually, this manifests in the form of digging multiple holes around the fence line in your backyard.
Other anxious behaviours that they may also show include pacing, aggression, destructive behaviour, barking, and excess eliminating.
Your dog may think that escaping from the backyard they can return to you quickly, so this reason for digging typically occurs when they are left alone at home.
Reason 2: Your Dog is Bored
It's very common for dogs to dig when you aren’t home, they get bored and you aren’t there to distract and entertain them. Puppies or high energy dogs have the biggest problem with boredom.
This means that whatever you leave for them to do whilst you're out and about isn’t enough to keep them mentally stimulated for that time. Boredom digging typically looks like lots of shallow holes all over your garden but some bored dogs love to dig big holes at your fence line.
Reason 3: You’re Dog is a Hunter
Certain dog breeds have a higher prey drive than others, and the higher the prey drive, the more likely they are to dig. Breeds like Jack Russell Terriers, Dachshunds, Cairn Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, and Beagles are more likely to dig and show other hunting behaviours whilst on walks and during play.
These breeds have been bred for their digging qualities, often the instinct to dig and find rats or other prey is very strong. With hunters, the digging is concentrated on a few spots where they suspect an animal has created some path like structures in the ground.
Some people support their dog’s hunting behaviour, whilst others wish to lower their dog’s prey drive, but this depends on you and your preferences.
Reason 4: Your Dog is Hot
A common reason for a dog to dig in the garden is to find a cool patch of dirt to lay in. Australian summers are hot, and it can be an effective way for your dog to cool down.
Dog’s don’t keep cool like humans do and usually have to battle a fluffy or thick coat. Take note of the location of the digging, and if in the middle of the day or the afternoon it's in a shady spot along your fence, then you know they are digging to keep cool.
How You Can Stop DiggingNow that you have a better understanding about why your dog digs, you can test different solutions.
Correct Any Anxiety
If your dog is digging because it's anxious, you often need to address the anxiety as a whole instead of just their digging. The top ways to treat separation anxiety all involve desensitizing your dog.
Desensitize your pet by grabbing your jacket and keys, or opening and closing your front door during the day. This way they won’t recognise your departure routine. Some other things you can do are to keep greetings and partings low key.
Waiting until your dog settles to say hello, and ignoring its barks and whines will show them that your leaving and returning isn't a big deal.
Use Up Their Excess Energy
To stop your dog from digging in your garden and to keep them busy, you need to focus on using up their energy and using interactive toys and games. A combination of the two will usually help your dog to stay away from your garden beds.
Using up your dog's energy with a big walk before you keep them in your backyard is hugely beneficial.
The more dogs they interact with on that walk, the better. Like humans, dogs love social interaction but they also find it tiring. By walking them before they are left alone you use up their energy storage and their social interaction storage, hopefully tiring them out quicker.
Play fetch, let them run up the beach or jog laps of your local park and they should (hopefully) be too tired to start digging. If you begin using enrichment toys and games, your dog should have a schedule so busy they don’t have time to dig under your fence.
Make Your Own Enrichment Dog Toys
Use a Toilet Roll
Keep your dog easily distracted with some empty toilet rolls. Fold the toilet roll so you can encase a treat inside and let your dog solve the toilet roll puzzle.
A coconut makes an excellent enrichment toy for dogs. Take a whole coconut and drill a hole in it, drain out the liquid (and keep for yourself), and smear the outside with your dog’s favourite spread.
Cream cheese or peanut butter is a popular choice. They will roll the coconut around for ages chasing the good stuff!
Freeze Your Treats
If you use a Kong toy, then try freezing the snacks before you put them in! Frozen veggies, fish, fruit and more can all be used. This is a good activity to use in conjunction with others.
By the time your dog is finished up with a different enrichment activity, the ice will have started to melt and they will realise that another treat awaits!
Let them Eat Cake
Not actual cake, but using a cake tin and some tennis balls you can create an easy and fun enrichment activity. Place some treats or biscuits in an old muffin tin, then place some tennis balls on top to cover them.
Your dog will have to solve the puzzle and move the balls to get to the precious treasure (and be too distracted to even think about digging under your fence).
If you can get your hands on some plastic PVC pipe, you’ve got an enrichment toy! Make sure it's wide enough so your dog can’t get its mouth stuck.
Simply put some peanut butter inside and you're done! Your dog will be kept so busy trying to get to the peanut butter, they will forget what digging even is.
Use a Towel
Grab an old towel and tie it into a big knot. Once tied, shove some treats and nibbles into the knot and give it to your dog. This is a fun one as your dog has to try to unravel the knot to get to all the goodies.
Keep Your Dog Cool
If your dog is digging along your fence line or in your garden perhaps, coming up with new ways to keep them cool is the priority. If your backyard permits, you can always install more shade to keep your dog cool.
A shade sail or pergola will help to keep your dog cool. Start freezing some ice blocks to leave out for your dog to lay on when it gets hot. Add ice cubes to their water bowl and make sure you keep their hair cut nice and short.
Try an Electric Fence
If your dog is continuing to dig under the fence, there are products available to solve this ongoing issue and keep your precious pup safe. We recommend using an E-Fence.
An E-Fence works by sending a radio signal from a transmitter (which is around your dog's neck) to a wire (that’s placed along your fence line), when your dog crosses the fence line or gets too close to it, it will get alerted.
Good E-Fences come with training boundary flags, to give your dog a visual aid so they can understand where the boundary is. The collar has two contact points that need to touch your dog's neck, if your dog gets too close to your fence the collar will beep, if they continue to get closer they will get a static shock.
The static shock doesn’t hurt, it just sends them a signal to stop what they are doing. We recommend you try it on yourself, put the collar in your hand and see what it feels like when you go too close to the boundary.
This gives you a great understanding of what your dog will actually feel, and you can set the shocks to a level that you are personally comfortable with.
Quality E-Fences are waterproof, allow you to control the shock and have a thick, durable boundary wire. Our bestselling E-Fence is the Advanced Hidden Fence Dog Training System, comparing the market you will see that this option has all the features you need at a good price point.
They are a great option for stubborn dogs and owners who have tried everything but can’t seem to train digging under a fence from their beloved pup. Most dogs quickly realise where the boundaries are and what the consequences of going close to them are, you’ll find your dog won’t be shocked as often as you think.
Digging Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use cayenne pepper to stop a dog from digging?
Cayenne pepper is a popular alternative to stop dogs digging up the garden. It’s a harmless method and all you need to do is sprinkle a small amount in the areas your dog is digging.
The idea behind it is that the smell and the irritation is enough to deter your dog from digging in that spot again. And as an added bonus, is that the cayenne pepper won’t ruin your garden!
Does vinegar stop dogs from digging?Vinegar can stop your dog from digging. Despite being completely harmless, the smell can be intense for a dog, and will hopefully deter them from digging. Simply mix 50/50 water and vinegar together in a spray bottle, shake, and spray! Both cayenne and vinegar can be effective solutions, but they may not work on every dog. Give them a try and see how your dog responds.
Other ways to stop your dog’s digging
Try installing an uncomfortable ground cover like large stones or gravel. Another option is fencing off the area from the dog, this can be tricky if your dog is digging in the only empty space it has. However stubborn or determined dogs may be able to find a way through these.
If you’re serious about getting your dog to stop digging under a fence, first try tiring them out and implementing enrichment toys. If that just isn’t working, an E-Fence will keep your dog safe and your fence line clear.