Do you have a “Hairy Houdini?”
Some dogs love to dig. In fact, a dedicated digger can dig a hole large enough to fit under a fence in a matter of minutes. Is your fencing enough to contain a determined digging dog? How safe are your dogs in their yard? Read on to find out how you can improve your fencing safety and stop your dog from digging under a fence.
When we recently built our new house, we designed the property with the dogs in mind. We had a professional fencing company install “dog proof” chain link fence which has smaller openings in the mesh weave than traditional chain link fencing to deter climbers. We also made sure it was tall, 6 feet tall since our big, fluffy dogs can jump!
We fenced in 3/4 of an acre, plenty of room to run and romp. With wooded areas, grass to roll and scratch their backs and a large deck for lounging. What more could a dog ask for? Despite all this, we still had a digger escape and end in tragedy by being struck by a car.
Since this tragic loss of one of our beloved fur babies, I have dedicated my time to researching ways of improving the safety of my yard for my dog. Obviously, quality fencing was not enough to protect them all.
My objectives: make it harder or ideally impossible for the dogs to dig out, find out how to deter digging, and make our yard a doggy paradise that no dog would want to leave.
Let’s start with making it harder or ideally impossible to dig out.
- Concrete footers – This is a footer which is placed at the bottom of your fence and extends 3 to 5 feet from the base of your fence. The footer is shaped like an “L” so it extends both vertically and horizontally. Although extremely durable, it is more expensive than other options to install.
- Defence – I came across this product while researching options for preventing digging. The metal tines are driven into the ground at the base of your fence so that when the dog digs he encounters the metal. The metal tines should act as a deterrent to further digging.
This particular option comes with 15in spikes. There are 5 per container and cost $85.99. This model is recommended for dog who dig large holes.
- Chicken Wire: Attaching chicken wire to your current fencing and extending it from the base of the fence outwards about 3 feet is a good option. Secure the wire to the fence with galvanized staples and secure to the ground with “U” pins driven into the ground. Here is a post which details installation on vinyl fencing from Hunker.com
The following images and information was found on Montagtervs.com. Kathy Madden of Montagtervs.com was gracious enough to allow me to reproduce the information in this post. She says “if these designs will work for Beagles, they will certainly work for Belgians with digging talents.” So, I am sure they will work for other diggers as well!
Chicken wire at bottom of fence, laid upon grass which grows through the wire
Solid wood base at bottom of fence
Chicken wire at bottom of fence, covered with wood chips or river rocks
Protection at a gate
Solid Vinyl fencing
Attached with plastic clamps
To attach chicken wire to vinyl fencing, use UV Protected weather resistant plastic clamps obtained in the electrical department. Lay the horizontal part of the chicken wire along the ground and cover with wood chips, or let the grass grow through it.
Another dig-proof way to fill in gaps beneath a wooden or vinyl fence is to put some gravel around the edge to raise the surface slightly and then lay 12 inch patio pavers around the perimeter. This looks good and is easy to lay in any weather conditions.
Now let’s try to eliminate the desire to escape.
- Privacy barriers: Privacy barriers installed in fencing can help eliminate distractions. If your dog likes to chase squirrels, (Squirrel!!) then seeing one on the other side of the fence is a big incentive to get out! Privacy fencing may help to deter an escape artist by eliminating temptations. Privacy barriers can be installed on chain link fencing and solid fencing obviously provides its own privacy barrier.
- Exercise – think of what type of breed of dog you have and the energy level of that breed. A dog with an excess of energy will usually find destructive or undesirable ways to keep himself busy. Digging is one of these undesirable behaviours resultig from too much energy and not enough exercise. Solution? Daily brisk walks burn energy and allow you time to bond with your dog. Cesar Milan asks, “Are they exercising, and for how long? If it isn’t long enough, then I would recommend intensifying that exercise. If you don’t have enough time, that’s when I would recommend putting backpacks on them, which can help by turning 30 minutes of actual exercise into an hour.” (Source: Cesar’sway.com)
I will be ordering a backpack for my working breed dogs (2 Siberian Huskies, a Malamute and a German Shepard) in the near future to increase their energy expenditure and hopefully eliminate their desire to dig!
- Supervision: Supervising your dog while he is out and about in the yard is a good way to prevent an escaping digger. It’s never a good idea to leave your dogs out unsupervised for extended periods of time. I use this time to get some gardening done, pick up dog poop, or any other easy maintenance that can be done while keeping an eye on my dogs. If you should catch a digger in the act, punishment is not an option. Instead, redirect your dog’s energy with a game of fetch or chase.
Now, let’s make my yard a doggy paradise!
- Digging pit: Got a digger? Get a digging pit! Try making a dedicated space for your dog to dig to his heart’s content. Petprojectblog.com has a great post for making your own digging pit.
- Toys – Providing plenty of toys for your dog to choose from and swapping them out periodically so they stay interesting is a terrific way to keep him busy playing instead of digging. A great choice for heavy chewers like my dogs is the Kong brand toy. This toy is great because it can be filled with all sorts of yummy treats like peanut butter or cheese so your dog spends time not only chewing on the Kong, but trying to get the treats inside as well. Labradortraininghq.com has great information on the 10 best toughest, durable dog toys for heavy chewers. I’ll be checking these toys out for my pack to chew on!
- Plenty of shade & water – Choose a water container which has a heavy base and cannot be knocked over. My German Shepard loves spilling the water. Shade can be trees, a dog house or a canopy to get out of the sun.
- Create an Obstacle Course – What dog wouldn’t want its own doggy playground?
Image Source: Humane Society of West Michigan
An obstacle course doesn’t have to be expensive! Just get creative with durable objects that will be safe, secured and fun for your dog. The tires in this picture were simply painted and arranged for climbing and tunneling. Bonus: my 4 year old can enjoy them, too!
Here’s another obstacle course option with lots of bells and whistles featured on Today.com. Make it as elaborate or simple as your space and budget will allow and have fun with it.
- Water Feature: For those dogs who love water, adding a water feature for your dog to enjoy will definitely put a smile on his face!
Dogvills.com has a great post with options to fit any budget.
Well, I have some work to do to improve the safety of my yard and stop the digging under the fence. First step, chicken wire along the bottom of my fence! I will also be purchasing backpacks to increase our daily exercise and engage my dogs’ minds with a sense of purpose. More toys will be added to the yard, and does anyone have some old tires they need to get rid of?
Until I can install the chicken wire to prevent digging, our dogs will need to be tethered while they enjoy their time outside. Although they are walked daily, I like to turn them out for some free time in the yard during the day. I am not a fan of tethering any dog, but in this instance it is necessary to ensure their safety.
Take a look at your fencing and yard. Could you make it safer and more enjoyable for your dog? Although nothing is 100% fool-proof at preventing a dog from digging under the fence, perhaps in the event a digger did escape despite our efforts, we would have some peace of mind knowing that we did what we could to try to prevent it from happening. We would have truly tried to keep our dogs as safe as we possibly could.
Do you have any suggestions or ideas to stop a dog from digging under a fence? Leave a comment below, and thanks for stopping by!
The Humane Society of America has a great article about preventing burrowing animals from getting into your yard, but it will also keep the burrowing dog in your yard as well! Here is the post. Read it!
If you’d like to know if your dog is a top 10 digger, check out this post on Petcha.com, List of 10 dogs who love to dig. Yup, my dogs are on the list! Siberian Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes!
In loving memory of Donny
A dedicated digger
You are loved & missed
Well, it turned out that all of the above-mentioned precautions which I implemented shortly after writing this post did not prevent one of my Siberian Huskies to continue to dig. She began to tunnel under the chicken wire!!
What did I do? I installed invisible electrical fencing to prevent any further digging. If they try to dig out, they will receive “corrections” which should deter the digging. It was a costly endeavor, but one that I had to do to ensure that my diggers would not escape and unknowingly endanger themselves. We are still in the training phase, but all seems to be going well. I will keep you posted!