If you’re wondering why dogs try to dig out of yards, a better question might be "Why wouldn’t they?" It’s not that your pooch can’t stand her lovely surroundings; she’s most likely just doing what comes naturally. Most dogs like to explore and prefer not to be fenced in.
Escape vs. General Digging
You can distinguish digging to get out of the yard from general digging. It’s obvious when your dog is digging to escape when she digs only around the perimeter of the fence and under it. She’s doing this to get to something, to get away from something or to go somewhere. She might be experiencing separation anxiety and be trying to get to you; or she might be afraid of something, such as a loud noise, a scary dog next door or foul weather, all of which could cause her to try to get out. Un-neutered dogs might want to get out to find a mate. This occurs more often with un-neutered males but is not unheard of with un-spayed females.
Too Much Energy
Dogs are less likely to try to escape from your yard if they get enough exercise and are tired. Just throwing your dog out in the yard and expecting her to run around and exercise herself will not cut it. You need to walk your dog daily. Shoot for 45 minutes of walk time, which can be broken into more than one walk if you like. Or consider hiring someone to walk your dog. Play games to tire out your pooch. Your loyal companion might also be looking for some sort of interaction that she isn’t getting from you when she tries to get out. Instead of putting your dog in the yard and forgetting about her, work with her about five to 10 minutes a day to teach her some basic training commands. This is stimulating for your dog and lets her have some quality time with you. You, in turn, wind up with a better-behaved dog.
Dog Is Bored
If your yard is barren, with nothing to occupy your dog, she will probably be more prone to want to get out of there. Make the place more dog-friendly. If no shady areas are available, place a doghouse out there. Provide puzzle toys that your dog needs to work at to release a treat. Rotate the types of toys you offer. If your dog is routinely left alone in the yard all day, she’s bound to become bored. Consider taking her to doggy day care.
Secure the Yard
Your dog shouldn’t be able to dig out from your yard if you place chicken wire at the base of your fence. Roll the edges away from the fence so your dog won’t hurt herself if she digs down that far. You could also place partially buried rocks along the fence line or bury your fence about one to two feet deep. But if securing the fence is all you do to prevent your dog from digging to get out, she might start digging elsewhere in your yard, particularly if she’s bored. Even with fence security measures in place, have your dog wear identification that contains your phone number in case she does get out.
Laura Agadoni has been writing professionally since 1983. Her feature stories on area businesses, human interest and health and fitness appear in her local newspaper. She has also written and edited for a grassroots outreach effort and has been published in "Clean Eating" magazine and in "Dimensions" magazine, a CUNA Mutual publication. Agadoni has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University-Fullerton.