Dear Miss Behavin’: My dog, Jimmy, is constantly trying to escape the backyard, and he is often successful! Most of the time he digs under the fence. What can we do to keep him contained?
A good place to start is thinking about why Jimmy keeps wanting to leave the yard. Is he bored, lonely, scared of something? Your first job is to make the backyard fun! Don’t make it the place where he only goes when he’s being left alone. Instead, spend time with him in the yard playing, training, or just hanging out on a regular basis so that it becomes more like an extension of the rest of the house.
A great way to keep him from trying to dig under the fence is to give him a place where it is okay to dig. Much like you would give chew toys to a dog who loves to chew, you can create a digging pit for dogs who love to dig, since this is also a natural and enjoyable activity for most dogs. A planter box, sandbox, or a plastic kiddie pool would work well for a digging pit. Simply fill with dirt and bury some of Jimmy’s favorite kinds of toys or chews for him to dig up. Jimmy will soon learn that there is no better place to dig than the pit.
If Jimmy is well behaved in the house, you may consider letting him stay inside while you are gone. This will likely involve some dog-proofing (putting away shoes, strategic placement of a baby gate, etc.) but may just be the easiest fix. If he is generally relaxed in the house, he will likely relax inside for the day while you’re out. Give him a chew and turn on the radio for him. You can even set up a nanny cam so you can see what he’s up to while you’re away.