How to Stop a Dog From Digging & Escaping

Dogs are natural diggers.

Dogs are natural diggers.

If your dog is digging giant holes in your yard and escaping under your fence, he's not doing it to spite you. He's probably just bored, restless or lonely. Nevertheless, escaping puts your dog at risk of injury, so it's best to stop the digging as soon as possible.

Determine where your dog is going when he escapes, if possible. If you can figure out why he wants out of your yard, you may be able to remove the temptation.

Use positive behavior modification techniques to discourage digging and escaping. Consistently tell your dog "No" when you catch him digging. Reward him for stopping.

Dig shallow holes along your fence line and bury large rocks partially in the dirt. The rocks must be large enough to sit a couple of inches above the soil line while partially buried, and they must be heavy enough that your dog cannot easily knock them around with his nose.

Bury chicken wire along the base of your fence. This will stop nearly any dog from digging and escaping. Make no broken pieces or sharp edges are pointing into your yard.

Install a new fence or bury your existing fence at least 12 inches below the soil level in your yard. Keep in mind that wooden fences will eventually rot when submerged in damp soil. If installing a new fence, choose metal or plastic.

Check your fence line for signs of burrowing animals. Your dog may simply be investigating existing holes or attempting to hunt wildlife. If you find wildlife holes or tunnels, block them off and install wire mesh that attaches to the bottom of your fence and extends under or over the ground in an "L" shape to prevent digging.

Provide your dog with an acceptable place to dig by filling a large sandbox with dirt or marking an area of your yard as a digging zone. Reward your dog for digging in the acceptable area to encourage appropriate digging behavior.

Items you will need

  • Large rocks
  • Chicken wire
  • Wire meshing

Tips

  • Punishing your dog when you find holes will not correct his behavior.
  • Digging is normal behavior for dogs, according to the ASPCA. You'll have an easier time getting your dog to stay put if you provide some safe opportunities to dig.
 

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