How To Keep Dogs From Digging Under Fences

Just why do dogs dig holes, anyway? Perhaps it’s because they’d be too perfect otherwise.

When it comes to hard data, there is still a pervasive mystery around these iconic habits. Many of today’s experts believe digging holes is a leftover remnant of ancient wolf DNA. Other biologists believe ancient dogs would dig holes to hide food from other predators. For all we know, dogs just do it for fun!

That said, dogs digging holes in your backyard is a habit that quickly loses its appeal. Keep reading to learn how to discourage this behavior so you can keep your sanity in check. 

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Plant Balloons or Smelly Objects

Digging in the backyard

Dogs are legendary for their incredible sense of smell. A reliable method of discouraging them from rooting in your backyard is to plant smelly objects.

The frequency of digging usually depends on a few factors. Old dog breeders bred certain dogs for digging prowess, such as Dachshunds and Alaskan Malamutes. Dogs generally don’t like citrus smells, so finding a safe lemon or orange spray may keep them from digging.

Make sure you use an object proven to be safe for dogs. Using any chemical or smelly food to discourage them could be dangerous. You can also try planting balloons that pop and startle them, though this technique can be traumatic for sensitive dog breeds.

Related: The Top 10 Rated Dog Essentials You Need to Own

Plant Your Fenceline a Foot or Two Under the Surface

If you have the option, consider planting your fence line deep under the surface. Your dog may try to dig at first, but will soon get discouraged when there’s nowhere to go.

If you have a particularly intense dog, make a new fence your next home owning project. This technique may cost a little money up front, but it’s better than seeing your lawn or garden constantly torn up.

Bury Large, Non-Sharp Rocks Under the Fence Line

Dogs gravitate to soft, rich soil. Not only is the temptation to dig enticing, their sense of smell ignites their curiosity.

Burying large, round rocks under the fence line will discourage your dog from digging quickly. The stones should also be large enough they can’t be dug under. Please make sure these stones aren’t sharp, so your dog doesn’t accidentally hurt themselves.

Lay Chain-Link Fencing on the Ground Under the Fence

Not sure if you want to commit to a taller fence? Consider asking an expert to lay chain-link fencing on the ground beneath your fence.

This option is often more affordable than building an entirely new fence. Chain link is durable and will quickly tell your dog that they can’t go any further.

Create a “Digging Zone” in Your Yard

White dog laying down next to a no digging zone

Dogs respond well to convenience. If you give your pet a digging zone in the yard, they’ll gravitate to the spot nine times out of ten.

The digging zone should be far away from your furniture, garden, or flowers. You don’t want them tempted to expand the zone, right?

Related: Teach Your Dog To Like Dog Shoes

Reward Your Dog for Digging in the Digging Zone 

Want to ensure your dog doesn’t leave the special digging zone? Every time they dig in this designated area, double down on the praise to get the point home.


Positive reinforcement training is one of the best methods dog owners can use to get their pups to obey specific rules and commands, and this includes getting them to only dig in a specified area. Show them their special digging zone, and maybe even give them an example that it’s ok to dig there by moving a few handfuls of dirt yourself!

Once they get the idea and start to dig in the right area, praise them for their accomplishments verbally while also offering some congratulatory pets. 

You’ll likely have to repeat this process at least a few times over several days, and creating this new routine also means you’ll probably need to supervise the dog’s outings a few times. You can even give them an extra treat or two to emphasize that they’re doing what they’re supposed to. Whatever gets the point across!

Bury Dog Toys Safely in Digging Zones 

Another way you can reward your dog for digging in a special area is by burying some of their dog toys. Consider planting a mixture of toys to give them a sense of excitement.

Buy toys made out of durable, smooth material. Cloth or cotton toys risk becoming damp or moldy, which could be bad for your dog’s health. You also don’t want a filthy plushie being plopped down on your clean carpet later.

Set Aside an Hour Daily to Play With Your Dog 

Woman playing in the backyard with her dog

Digging is fun, exciting, and good exercise. It’s also a response to boredom. If you don’t play with your dog enough, they’ll be happy to remind you with a few custom-made holes in your nice, clean lawn.

Set aside an hour daily to play with your dog. Split this hour up into intervals if you’re busy or tired, such as a morning and evening walk.

Related: How to Show Your Dog You Love Them

Be Vigilant When Landscaping and Gardening 

If you’re a homeowner who loves landscaping or gardening, beware! Your outdoor hobby is like the mystery of Atlantis in your dog’s mind.

Fertilizing, cleaning, and expanding your yard generates new smells for your dog. Consider keeping your dog away from your latest projects for a while until the novelty wears off. Your new flower beds will thank you.

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