Dogs have a natural instinct to dig. They may dig for several reasons including to relax, burn off energy, communicate, and even enjoy themselves. However, this can be detrimental to your yard. If you are coming to this article wanting to know how to stop your dogs from digging under a fence, we can help!
Excessive digging in your yard may ruin a lawn, flower bed or simply create unnecessary cleaning. But the main worry is your dog escaping from your yard. By firstly identifying why your dog is digging, you will then be able to find a method to stop a dog from digging under a fence.
But Why Do Dogs Dig Under Fences?
In order to find the correct preventative training, you must first identify the reason your dog is digging.
For a cooler temperature
Digging is an instinctual behavior, therefore in the right circumstances, this will be a commonly seen behavior. In hot temperatures, dogs will do what they can to cool off. This can be finding shade, panting and in this case, digging. Digging below the surface in the yard will leave a colder area of ground for your dog to lie in.
Your dog may attempt to chase small animals underground and dig a path to them. This is especially common in hunting or terrier breed types. Unfortunately, this can also occur some time after the dog has witnessed the animal hiding underground, so it can be a repeating issue. Furthermore, dogs can smell and hear things we are unable to. Therefore they may be able to hear or smell an animal underground and attempt to dig it up.
Pauleen Charmayne Bennett and Vanessa IlseRohlf researched unwanted dog behavior, including digging. They found that the frequency of digging increased when a dog is ‘more anxious‘. Anxiety in dogs, similar to humans, can manifest itself in repetitive habits such as excess grooming, barking, or digging. Anxiety can build in an hour or gradually over months. Therefore the regularity of digging can vary, with anxiety still being the main cause. This is a habit that can be created through their environment, care, or can occur because of their breed or personality.
Sometimes dogs will dig simply because they enjoy it. Whether this is because of the energy release, actual activity or just the excitement of being outside, these can all contribute to the enjoyment. Dogs can be seen mimicking digging behavior with blankets, carpets, gardens, and sand. Digging behavior is not limited yards.
High Energy & Boredom
This factor can be based on individuals and breed types. Dogs with higher energy levels will require more stimulation than those with low. If their energy levels are not being satisfied, this can lead to your dog displaying destructive behavior. Using boredom-busting dog toys can help!
If a dog has been exercised thoroughly, the likelihood of them being destructive through digging is decreased. Their excess energy should have been used up. Some breeds naturally have higher levels of energy, such as Labradors. Therefore it is important to recognize the requirements your dog’s breed has as well as their individual needs.
Isolation may lead to three reasons for digging: escape, anxiety, and boredom. We have already covered anxiety and boredom. Both negative behaviors that can result in digging out of frustration or from trying to leave the considered negative situation. Dr. Ian Dunbar states ‘Some dogs dig to escape because they cannot bear the boredom and anxiety of solitary confinement in the yard’.
How to stop dogs from digging under a fence?
The main concern with your dog digging under a fence is the idea that they could get out of your yard, become lost or even injured by cars. Therefore preventative measures are necessary.
Is there any device that can be used to stop a dog from digging?
Some trainers, including Mike Shafer, recommend remote collar training. The collar will either use spray, static, ultrasonic, or vibration preventative methods. The collars have multiple settings of strength that are meant to be used for differing negative behaviors. The device works by presenting the negative stimulus, for example, vibration, when the dog begins digging. Your dog will thereby begin to negatively associate digging with the stimulus. This should minimize and then stop the behavior.
Debates exist as to whether negative associations are appropriate in training. As even if the desired result is achieved, the problem is not actually being solved. For example, the collar may prevent a high energy dog from digging. But their energy may then manifest itself into chewing furniture. Instead, finding the appropriate solution, in this case exercising or playing with the dog more, will solve the original cause.
Furthermore, many have called training collars and negative associations in training cruel. Or at least detrimental to your dog’s mental health. The negative association can be instead replaced with a positive association. Rewarding your dog for good behavior as opposed to scolding your dog for bad. This prevents your dog from gaining increased anxiety, stress or fear from the collar. Instead, it encourages them to avoid the habit of digging by praising them when they come away and stop.
Will dog training be helpful to stop them from digging?
Dog training is always beneficial when it comes to unwanted behavior. Depending on the cause, dog training may need to be provided alongside another treatable method but it is usually always advantageous. Rewarding your dog for stopping digging will begin to create a pattern and association. This should then interrupt their thought process when they begin to dig and they should pull away and stop, due to their expectations of a treat. It is always wise to find the cause of the problem first though.
How long does it take for a dog to stop digging under a fence?
This answer is dependant on the age and breed of your dog, but most importantly the cause for their behavior. Puppies often display behaviors that owners would consider undesirable in adult dogs. But as they are puppies, this is their way of testing boundaries, learning and growing.
Will my dog outgrow his digging habits?
This may be the case, although it is unlikely. Some puppies may dig because of high energy and excitement, and as they age they may calm down and stop the behavior. So it is possible but also is uncommon. Check your dog for their breed type and if they are high anxiety or energy prone. If this is a yes, then you may need to combat their digging behavior early on with training.
Waiting for your dog to outgrow a problem is not usually recommended as there is no guarantee that this will be the case. There is an equal, if not higher, chance that this problem has an unsolved cause that needs to be determined. Exercising your puppy more, encouraging training from a young age and monitoring your puppy well will help you identify how frequent the behavior is and what, if anything, increases it.
How old till my dog stops digging under our fence?
If the cause of digging is due to their age, increased excitement, and high energy, then often this can stop from a few months old to the age of two years. This is around the time-set a dog has finished developing physically and mentally and has thereby outgrown any puppy-caused behaviors. If your dog continues to dig past the age of two years, it is almost definite that this is not something your individual will outgrow.
If you find your dog is specifically digging under your fence as opposed to just digging, this is dangerous and a cause for concern. Therefore waiting for the problem to go away with age may not be an option. This will require you to quickly identify the cause and implement training, hire a trainer or monitor your dog whenever they go into your yard. Many suggest placing objects in front of your fence but if a dog is determined, they will continue to dig and escape. Therefore the problem and cause must be treated directly.
How to deter the neighbor's dog from digging under my fence?
It can be understandably irritating to have your lawn dug up by a dog you don’t even own, or even very concerning if you worry about their welfare and safety. Maybe your neighbor is trying their best or maybe they are not listening to your worries. Either way, you want answers and we can help!
Can I give my neighbor's dog something to stop him from digging under my fence?
There is nothing to give as a neighbor that could immediately prevent the digging. Providing treats for a neighbor’s dog in an attempt to train them may cause allergies that are unknown or interfere with current training methods. Building deeper fences should be enough of a temporary solution. Although, make sure that the fence posts are two to three inches into the ground to prevent your neighbor’s dog from digging beneath them.
If discussing the problem with your neighbor does not make a change, you can report your worries to the police. But be aware that dog training takes time and your neighbor may be in the process of making a change.
Can I use pepper spray on my neighbor's dog?
In very few circumstances should dog pepper spray be used. When a dog is digging, they are doing it out of comfort or instinct, not to cause you or your lawn harm. It can be understandably frustrating but that does not justify the use of something which can cause suffering and severe distress to an animal. Pepper spray causes pain, irritation and swelling around and in the eyes of dogs for around an hour. This can cause them to whine, immobilize them for the time period and permanently affect their trust of people and social interactions.
Furthermore, in a number of states (46 exactly), this is classified as animal abuse, which can result in two to four years of jail time, a fine of $1000 or 200 to 400 days of community service at minimum wage.
The only justified use of dog pepper spray is for those authorized to carry the product, using it when a dog is about to attack unprovoked. Those who are justified to carry it are members of law enforcement and certified dog trainers of dangerous dogs in all states. In some states, you are legal to buy the product but not to carry it on your person. Check the laws of your state for regulation regarding pepper spray.