Beginning with the first moment that we lay our eyes on our sweet puppies, we know that we want them to live a fun life. However, when their version of fun ends up involving them digging underneath the fence, we know there is a problem. There can be different reasons behind why a dog will try to terrorize the dirt surrounding their backyard barrier, and that reason doesn’t always have to be that they want to get away.
The Reasons Are Plentiful
In the same way that there are a variety of different breeds of dogs, there can be many reasons as to why a dog will start to dig holes underneath the fence. Large dogs can dig holes just as easily as those of a smaller breed. The reasoning behind why each breed of dog digs, could be the same.
Dogs Love Attention
Some dogs will participate in this activity because they are bored. In the same way that children will oftentimes become mischievous when they are quiet and bored, dogs will find something to do if nothing is entertaining them. It might be wise to conduct an experiment by way of keeping tabs on when the digging occurs.
Does your dog unnecessarily dig when they are outside alone?
Does your dog start digging when people are around but not paying attention to him?
Answering these questions can help you come up with a narrow solution if you don’t have the time or willpower to test out all of the possible solutions to this problem.
Prevention Over Reaction
Whenever possible, prevention is a better avenue to take than reaction to a certain situation. If your dog has already gotten into the habit of digging under the fence, it may be more difficult to break this habit. However, just because they have taken on this habitual process, it doesn’t mean they are without hope.
Keeping Track of Their Whereabouts
If your dog is young and energetic and you can possibly see them being one to dig underneath the fence, you may want to consider getting a GPS tracking system for them. This will allow you to see when they get too close to the fence for your comfort. Even though the fence serves as a barrier, there is no harm in creating your own invisible boundary line, which is just the point before the fence at which you are comfortable with your dog reaching.
On the Part of the Owner
Although training dogs to act in a specific way can be a tedious process, we must remember that the process will be worth it. As the dog owner, your actions do matter and they will have a significant impact on how your dog acts. Besides using a tracking device, there are other ways that you can prevent your dog from creating an array of holes in your backyard. Sometimes it helps to first discover what the problem is so that the solution can be selected naturally but purposefully. For instance, does your dog appear to get bored often? Are they begging to be the center of attention when others are around? If this is the case with your dog, then the problem could be that they are not able to express their energy enough throughout the day. If you’re unsure if this is the case with your dog, it can’t hurt to try this solution- take them on more walks than you normally have scheduled.
Boredom Can be an Enemy
In the same way that a child might start acting out when they are bored, dogs can start to entertain suspicious activities when they feel they aren’t getting the necessary attention that they need. Taking your dog on more walks will not only help them to love you more (as if they need that help), but it will also allow them to lose some of their pent-up energy. If they’re able to minimize their energy by using it up on a walk, then the chances of them digging up holes when they get home is less likely.
Getting Ahead of the Masterminds
Dogs can learn to be quite sneaky when they are going after something that they really want. This is why it’s important to get ahead of the game if you can. If you catch your dog trying to escape the yard through means of digging a hole or even by trying to jump the fence, there are simple solutions that will put your mind to rest. Having a double gate can show your dog that going outside is a routine that needs to be adhered to. When you are taking them out for a walk, allow them to go outside of the first gate and then close it. Then, have them wait there for a few minutes so that they understand that it is a process to exit the gate. This will also show them that they are not allowed to exit the gate at any given time. After they have waited and are as calm as you would like them to be, allow them to finally exit the gate that leads outside of the yard.
Boundaries Are Important
It seems as though most of the society has a large aversion to boundaries. They can feel quite restrictive and we all have an attraction towards freedom and making our own decisions. While dogs may not put in as much thought to their actions as they do instincts, they are similar to humans in the way that they enjoy their freedom. It’s not fun to discipline those whom we love, but it is necessary. It’s possible to teach them to respect, or at least be obedient when it comes to avoiding the area around the fence. When you are teaching any dog to be obedient in a new area, make sure you have a decent array of treats to give out. Start of by praising them for small accomplishments and then slowly add on the rewards when they are achieving the goal you want them to.
Mindset is Important
Maintaining the idea that boundaries are put in place when you want to show love will make it easier to implement those boundaries. Disciplining your dog can be difficult but keeping in mind that the consequences of not implementing barriers can be extreme can help you during the process of correcting their behavior. Suffering a little heartache for the sake of enabling a dog to be a better version of themselves will be worth it.
Lessening Their Energy
There are many apartments that require a pet to be spayed or neutered before they are able to take residence. However, there are also many other places that do not require this to be done. If this has not been a requirement for you, you may want to consider getting this done. Animals in general are known to have less energy after they have been “fixed.” Getting this done could have a huge impact on how your dog acts. If you are open to this idea, look into getting it done.
Unfortunately, if you catch your dog digging in a certain area, there are chances that they have tried digging there more than once. One possible solution to this problem is fencing off the areas that they are more likely to dig in. This may not be a viable solution for you, depending on how many holes your dog has created, but it is an option. Another possibility for solving this issue is to cover the area with foods and smells that dogs have an aversion to. This would include citrus peels, vinegar, and cayenne. If adults are already sensitive to these spices, imagine how a dog would react to them. When these spices are put near the spot that your dog keeps picking at, your dog will not be as drawn to these areas as much as he was beforehand.
Dogs Just Want to Have Fun
In the same way that dogs love to go on walks, they also love to play. Walks allow for dogs to burn off some excess energy and so do play toys. If you find that the toys that you have are old and worn out, then it may be time to invest in some new ones. Instead of letting your dog play with them by themselves, carve out some time to play with your dog. It might even be wise to schedule that section of play time on a calendar. We all become so busy incredibly easily and so if we want to make sure that we’ll make time for something, we should either schedule it or write a note that will serve as a reminder. If you prefer to use technology rather than paper and pen, setting a reminder alarm in your phone is a great idea as well.
A Problem on Top of a Problem
We are all well aware that dogs digging holes in the backyard is a problem in and of itself. It might be possible that this problem of digging was created as a result of a rodent infestation. One giveaway that could indicate that this is the problem is the location of where your dog is digging. If they are digging near trees, this could let you know that you also have a rodent problem. Also, try searching the yard for “mysterious” holes. If you find holes out in your yard that you don’t think were created by your dog, there could be a chance that they were created by a small furry animal. As soon as you are sure that this is a problem, go ahead and call pest control and see what they can do to fix the problem. When and if you do call them, be sure to let them know that you have a dog. You will want to make sure that they are not using any materials that could be harmful to your dog. If you get rid of the pests and discover that this is still a recurring problem between you and your pet, try some of the other methods listed in this article.
What if My Dog Jumps?
Sometimes, instead of trying to dig a hole underneath the fence, dogs will try to jump over the fence in order to escape the yard. Here are some simple solutions to this problem:
- Clear the yard of anything they can stand on
- Build a higher fence
- Lace the inside of the fence with trees
When dogs have something to stand on in the yard and they are already trying to jump over the fence, they will be able to have a greater chance of succeeding. If you find any toys or objects that might help aid them in their process of escaping, either move them to another spot to where it won’t serve as a problem or eliminate them if they are becoming too much of a hassle. Another possible solution that will prevent dogs from jumping the fence or even trying is to just build a higher fence. If you don’t think that you will like how this looks or you don’t believe that this will be a viable option, there is still another solution. It will be much more difficult for a dog to jump the fence when there are bushes lined up along the inside of the fence. This will also add to the landscaping atmosphere around the house.
Weather Plays a Part
Do you find your dog acting differently with the changes of the weather? When you record exactly when your dog is more likely to dig holes in the yard, you can find out if weather is the root cause of the digging. A dog can be more likely to dig when it is really hot outside. After all, dogs act differently in general when the weather is too hot for them. They start panting in order to cool down. They might not be as playful as they typically are when the weather is cooler. A good indication that a dog is digging in order to feel the damp ground is the fact that there is no other shelter around. Having a small shelter space or a dog home outside for your dog will allow them to have a safe spot to cuddle in when the weather becomes too hot. There could also be a possibility that they’re staying outside for too long at one time. Try taking them inside more often and see if that clears up the problem.
Create a Designated Spot for Your Dog
There is a time for everything for our dogs. There is a time for them to play and a time for them to be serious. Boundaries can be set in place not only in a physical way, but also in a way of setting up different expectations. Your dog should know when and where they are able to dig, if you allow digging to take place at all. If you are comfortable with your dog digging, but you want them to be in a certain spot when they do it, set up a place that is special to them. You will have to teach them which area is appropriate for digging and which areas are not. You may choose to create a small sand box filled with either sand or dirt. This will be the best solution for a dog who is determined to continue digging. When they dig in the designated area that you have layed out for them, be sure to give them a lot of praise and attention. Eventually, they will be able to catch on to the fact that you want them to dig only in a certain area. This will also help the loose dirt to stay in one area of your yard rather than having it spread out all over. It will be like having a mini playpen for your dog.
Make the Space Their Own
Make your dog’s special digging spot truly a place of their own. They’ll be excited enough that they have a space where they can dig freely. You can really make it a space that they’ll want to call their own by adding toys in their designated spot. Not only can you put their favorite toys next to their favorite digging spot, but you can also burry their toys so that they can have a fun time digging up their toys. It will be like they are digging for hidden treasure. When they finally find their burried toy, it will serve as a reward for digging in the proper spot throughout the yard. In addition to the toy itself serving as a reward, you can give them a treat afterwards. This will let them know that you are proud that they stayed in the proper place in the yard. If you have the time, play with your dog, using the toy that they found in their sandbox. They will be especially happy to receive attention after already having a good afternoon of listening. It’s doubtful that dogs will grow wearisome of the praise they are given.
Try to find as many ways possible to let your dog know that you are proud of them. Positive attention will keep your dog behaving in the way that you want and expect them to while showing your dog negative attention will keep them trapped in their own negative behavior. Even punishing a dog will show them some sort of attention, and it may be the attention they are looking for. However, a sterner approach needs to be taken when they are not digging in the proper area. If you find that your dog is still digging holes outside of the designated area, sternly tell them “No” and walk them away from that area. This will let them know that you are unhappy with what they are doing. It will also prevent them from getting too much attention when they are doing something they aren’t supposed to be doing. Keep the process short and simple to refrain from drawing out the process and causing a lot of attention to go towards it.
Differentiate Their Spaces
On the one hand, we want to create a digging space for dogs that they will not only find acceptable, but also attractive. On the other hand, we want to make the spaces where they want to dig seem unattractive. We don’t want to make the entire backyard looking tacky, however, which is why it’s a good idea to keep track of specifically where your dog likes to dig. If they like to dig near the fence, then this is the area that you will want to make look unattractive. One way to do this is to cover these areas with wire. You can also fill or cover these spots with rocks. This can help prevent your pup from desiring to dig in these problem areas. If they have an eye for select spots around the yard, you may want to fence off these parts until you can fix the digging issue altogether.
Don’t Give Up
There are some owners that end up giving their dogs away because they are unable to prevent their dogs from digging holes or trying to escape the yard. Don’t give up! There is always hope and practical strategies that will enable you to get the desired results that you wish to have from your dog. Please keep in mind that these strategies do take time to implement. It may take a little while to discover if one specific method is working or not. If one method isn’t working, it will take time to move on to the next method and see if that one will work. Every dog is different and can respond differently to various methods, so it is more than likely that this process will not only take time but also patience. There are quite a few solutions out there for you and your dog.
Ask for Help
We all need help from others at times. Sometimes we are so concerned and consumed about a specific problem that we fail to see the bigger picture. If you find yourself frustrated because none of these practical solutions seem to be working with your pup, consider reaching out to a dog trainer. They may be able to have insights that will be specific to your dog. Also, they can help teach you one-on-one about the methods that work for your dog. It can help to have someone by your side not only training your dog but teaching you how to train your dog as well. This will also allow for some accountability to take place. It can be so easy to give up trainings after you have tried it for a decent amount of time and you still are not seeing any results. However, if you have someone who is by your side training your dog, you can ask them to keep you accountable. You can also ask them to come by every once in a while to witness the progress being made with your dog. They can also make more suggestions each time they stop by so that you can constantly tweak your game plan. Be open to what they have to say but also remember to listen to your gut feeling. If you feel like a certain method isn’t working for your dog but you don’t know why, then there could be a chance that there’s a reason for that feeling.
Be Open and Determined
Although you are surely the person that knows your dog the best, try to be open to outside opinions from dog experts. They may be able to make a suggestion to you that you haven’t thought of before. Just be sure that the suggestion won’t cause any harm to your dog and begin to carry out the suggestion. One of the most important things to remember when trying to form a new habit with your dog is consistency. Ensuring that your actions are constant and consistent will show your dog that what you are doing is important and will not go unnoticed. When they see that you respect the process, they will be obedient to the process as well. Remember that you are entering this process alongside of your dog. You are not acting apart from your dog, but instead you are forming a new process with them. In the same way that we value actions over words, dogs will better adhere to your actions rather than your words alone. If you continue to tell them “No, don’t dig,” but you don’t offer them an alternative, they are likely to continue in their ways. It is so important to carry out this process of retraining with both words and the proper actions that are associated with those words. This process will be one that you won’t regret taking on. Who knows? You may even feel closer to your dog after the process is over with.