I have a dog who has recently discovered that she can squeeze under a portion of the chain-link fence we installed in order to keep her on our property.

Is there any effective, but reasonably attractive way I can reinforce the bottom of the fence? I attempted to tent-peg that section of fence down to the ground, but as I discovered this morning, she can just easily push the steel pegs I used out.

I can't really afford to mess around with any ineffective solutions; I live right next to an elementary school, and as I discovered this morning it takes less than 5 minutes to go from her going missing to me receiving a hefty fine, despite her being a very friendly/well tempered German Shepherd/Rottweiler cross.

8 Answers 8


The best solution is to add a dig-out guard to your fence or dog run:

  1. Head to the home improvement store and pick up some galvanized sheet metal about 2 feet wide (corrugated or straight is fine; the stuff they use for roofing and sheathing outbuildings is perfect)

  2. With snips, a hacksaw or a Sawzall, cut the metal to workable lengths, maybe 3-4'. If it's corrugated, you want the curves to be perpendicular to the long dimension of each piece, so that when it goes into the ground the curves are vertical. You may, for appearances, paint the "top" edge of the metal a pleasing color of oil-based enamel; then it just looks like edging. But, being galvanized, the metal will be weather-resistant.

  3. Use a shovel (as straight-bladed as possible) to cut down through the topsoil at least a foot and a half (or as deep as possible) along the line of the chain-link fence. You shouldn't have to really dig much; just push down and then wiggle the shovel to widen the cut.

  4. With a block of wood and a rubber mallet, pound the sheet metal down into the cut you made until there's about 6" of the sheet metal remaining above ground. Press any loose earth/grass down firmly against the sheet metal on both sides. Repeat around the entire length of the fence.

  5. With a drill and a metal-cutting bit, drill two holes a couple inches down from the top of the metal and on opposite sides of your chain links, at regular intervals along each piece and where two pieces meet (each set of holes should probably be no more than the width of your dog's shoulders or the maximum diameter of his body).

  6. With linesman's pliers, cut a length of annealed wire, pass it through the holes from the inside of the fenced area, then twist it into place around a chain-link wire on the outside (bored dogs will chew, and you don't want them chewing on metal wire).

  7. Annealed wire will rust over a period of years if given the opportunity (the idea is usually that it's cheap to replace); you can mitigate this with a shot of clear acrylic or polyurethane spray, or you can just keep an eye on the wires and replace them. They do make galvanized wire specifically for use with chain-link, but it's stiffer stuff for a given gauge and so is harder to work with.

You now have an anchored piece of metal that the dog will have to dig more than a foot down to get under (or will hit impenetrable rock before he gets there), that is attached firmly to the chain-link so the dog won't be able to squeeze between them. This should be far more effective than your tent stakes at preventing him getting under the fence.

  • 1
    The effectiveness of this will depend on how determined the dog is to dig out. My dad did something similar in an attempt to keep predators out of the run for his chicken coop. Several racoons and IIRC one dog (not certain it was after he anchored the fence bottom) still dug down far enough to get in. Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 19:17
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    Well, we are talking about a GS/Rottie mix here; that is a really big dog (probably about 80-120 lbs and about waist height) that needs a really big hole to slip through. He's going to have to dig a hole (a tunnel really) wide enough for himself and more than a foot and a half down before he can even start going horizontal, and then he has to dig back upwards. That is a hell of a lot of earth to move; if the dog can do that in a day I'd be very surprised, and if he can't then all you do is regularly fill in the dig sites.
    – KeithS
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 19:53
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    I'd fix your spelling mistake (last line, "presventing"), but one character is too few for an edit. Commented Apr 3, 2012 at 20:45
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    Wow, reading this answer makes me thankful I have a dog that doesn't dig or try to escape.
    – Hank
    Commented May 1, 2013 at 23:32
  • This is pretty expensive and time-consuming. Below I outline what we did for our fence (also time-consuming, but less so). Basically, the idea is to add a wire mesh apron all around the fence and use hog rings to quickly attach it to the chain link. Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 19:17

This answer is more a dog training answer than a DIY answer, but anyways.. All of the suggestions already provided are good for solving the fence problem, but ultimately, your dog will still try and dig, and might even injure themselves trying - especially if there is metal down there.

My advice is to get a skat mat - this is a mat that puts off a mild electrical current when stepped on. Place it in the location your dog digs. It usually solves these problems very quickly in my experience.

  • also try to get a stranger (someone who your dog doesn't know) to install it so he doesn't link your sent to the skat mat Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 17:51
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    Actually, I do have an electronic dog fence installed but we never really used it because we didn't put much effort into figuring out how to get her path out of the house to not trigger it. Picking up some fresh batteries, fixing the wiring and training her on it would probably be the most painless route, and save the flower bed to boot.
    – mootinator
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 17:58
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    The best thing I taught my dog was to dig on command, that way we were able to get him to dig in a designated spot, and not just keep making craters in my backyard..
    – Steven
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 17:59
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    I built my dog a sandbox for digging, encouraged him to dig there, and he hasn't dug a hole in the yard since!
    – dotjoe
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 21:46
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    @mootinator: Make sure the e-collar is adjusted correctly and is snug around the dog's neck. Many e-collars "do not work" simply because owner's have not trapped it tight enough and contacts are not touching the skin enough. But please, please do some real training with the dog and the e-collar, do not just flip it on and day and leave.
    – auujay
    Commented Apr 3, 2012 at 20:59

take a short chain link fence and dig it in and tie the remaining part to the existing fence (as you should have dug it in in the first place)

you can also add a tension wire or 2 to the bottom of the fence so it can't rise high enough for her to fit under. this will only work until she digs a ditch underneath where she can fit through

  • Yeah, I had a pool guy help me install the fence, he's more used to fencing to keep people out =)
    – mootinator
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 17:46

If your dog is really just squeezing under the fence as you described in your question, I was in a very similar situation a few years ago, so here's how I solved the problem:

  1. Obtain 1/2" diameter wooden dowels to use as stakes.

  2. Cut them into pieces 12-18in long.

  3. Wrap one end in duct tape to prevent splitting during burial.

  4. Positioning each stake 1-2ft from posts and each other, insert them down through the chain link so that they prevent the bottom of the fence from moving in or out.

  5. Using a standard hammer, drive the stakes into the ground so that 4-6in remains above ground. This is not easy since you have to avoid the chain link above the stake in order to strike the top, but it is possible.

With 12-14" of dowel underground, they should be very difficult for a dog to pull up by pushing on the fence.

This worked well for me to prevent the fence from bending up, which is how my dog had been getting out of the yard.

  • This same thing works for me, but I use 18" rebar which is like $1.27 @ the big box store each. It would be a tad expensive to do this over the length of a whole yard, but works really well in trouble spots. And you can spray grey primer on either type of rod to make it less gaudy. Commented Mar 31, 2016 at 21:42

I just finished doing this in my back yard yesterday (we just moved into a new house)! Well, I have a semi-permanent solution now, but did this at my old house and it turned out great. Basically, I used livestock fencing pinned to the ground and attached at the base of the chain link fence using steel wire.

  1. Measure your fence line, or at least the trouble spots. However, I learned that my dogs were very persistent, so I just did the whole fence line.
  2. Go to your local hardware store and buy 36" livestock fencing. You want to make sure it's about 14-16 gauge so that it's manageable with wire cutters but not too thin to bend easily (like chicken wire). You always want to buy more livestock fencing than your fence line measurements. If the total length of all of the livestock fencing is about 10 feet or less above your fence line measurements, you might want to buy an extra roll to be safe. You can always return it if you don't use it. Also buy double your measurement of strong, 14-16 gauge steel or aluminum wire. Once again, it needs to be easily cuttable with wire cutters but not too thin. Also pick up some landscaping pins (or sometimes called staples). My rough estimate is about 4 pins per section of chain link between the posts. You may need more depending on how flat your yard is. Oh, and grab a pair of work or gardening gloves if you don't have any. I prefer the ones with the palms and fingers dipped in nitrile; they offer more tactile flexibility for using your fingers.
  3. Roll out the livestock fencing on the ground along your fence. I like to unroll it so that the ends curl up (skyward). It means you may need fewer landscaping pins. Use the landscaping pins to hold down the ends. If there are any corners or turns in your fence line, you may have to cut the livestock fencing so that it can "hug" the bottom of your chain link.
  4. Once unrolled, start pushing the livestock fencing right up to the bottom of your chain link. You will want to secure it along the way with the landscaping pins to keep it from moving while you do step #5.
  5. Use the steel wire to weave the livestock fencing to the bottom of your chain link. I discovered that it was easiest to manage by cutting strips about the same length as your arms fully extended. You can find your own weaving method as you go. Just be sure to make a weave or coil every foot or so to attach both fences together.
  6. After you've woven the fences together, use landscaping pins to hold down any bumps or curls in the livestock fencing. Get it as close to the ground as possible. Even if it's already pretty flat, put in some pins in regular intervals (every 4-6 feet or so) to keep it from raising up while walking on it or mowing.
  7. If you have any gates in your chain link, you may want to cut some livestock fencing to run under the gate and about 1 foot outside of the gate. Pin as needed.
  8. Finally! Unleash your escape artist and sip the cold (or hot) beverage of your choice as they search for escape routes and find none!

It can be a lot of work, but the end result is awesome. After about 2 years, the grass and dirt will cover up the livestock fencing so it will be hidden from sight. I'd say it took me about 24 total works hours doing it by myself to complete a 0.4 acre fence. I think it was somewhere in the 300-400 foot range. If it's too cold or too hot outside, you can get by with zip ties instead of weaving the wire. With the new house, I opted for zip ties as the freezing temperatures made the wire harder to manage and just uncomfortable to work in.

I hope this helps! I know I sleep better at night knowing I will still have 3 dogs at home when I wake up!

  • This is an excellent solution. I would suggest hog rings instead of weaving the livestock fencing to the chain link. They're much quicker to install. Quicker than zip ties and I think a bit cheaper (close, anyway). Also, we used 2' welded wire mesh and that sufficed for the most part. Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 19:20

Add an electric fence about 1 to 2 feet in front of your regular fence. You will have to train your dog about the new boundary by walking along the line of the new "invisiable" fence if he/she is used to being near the fence (with the new collar and device attached).

Once trained, you dog shouldn't want to get near the chain link fence again.

Additional, since the electric fence is buried, it should be invisible to you.

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    Sorry I just read your comment about already having a fence. I recommend turning it on.
    – Jon Raynor
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 18:19

I have two Rottweilers and one blue cattle dog. We had an existing chain link fence, our female Rottweiler climbed it, the male jumps it and our blue cattle dog just cleared it all together.

We extended the height with 8 foot star pickets, some chicken mesh, 2 rolls of wire and hog ties. We spent a day putting up all around our yard.

We threaded 3 rows of tension wires through the mesh to make it nice and strong. Clipped the bottom of the new mesh to the top of the old fence and clipped it all the way along the wires with hog ties.

We then tested the fence by one of us getting in the car and driving away why one hid in the bushes to see if and where they could get out. We did this 6 times until we patched it up and they could no longer escape.

We used the garden edging pegs that look like a tent peg but they have a very big loop at the top. Superb for pegging down the wire fences so they can't lift it up.

  • Welcome to the site @sharn; I edited out your email address because we discourage having email addresses in posts on this site. You're welcome to include it in your profile if you like (the "About me" section -- the "email address" section is only visible to you and the site moderators).
    – Niall C.
    Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 2:27
  • Some pictures of the final product, would add value to this answer.
    – Tester101
    Commented Nov 13, 2012 at 17:20

We solved this problem by attaching an apron around the inside perimeter of the fence, much as Garrett describes above. The apron consisted of 2' woven wire fencing. Thus, the apron will prevent digging within two feet of the fence. Animals are not smart enough to dig two feet out and tunnel under the apron. They will always run all the way to the fence and attempt to dig.

We rolled out the wire mesh parallel to the fence and secured it flat with landscaping pins. The apron is then attached to the chain link using hog rings. Hog rings are quick and easy to attach, but they require a special set of hog ring pliers (not expensive).

Afterward, cover the apron with plenty of soil. Eventually the grass will cover it back up. If you covered grass with the apron, the grass will gradually grow up through the extra soil covering the apron. You'll forget it is there.

But a determined dog can chew through the chain link (ask me how I know this). In that case, an electric fence is needed. We put in about 500' of electric fencing - one strand at about 12" to 18" off the ground. Our dogs learned the first day to stay away from it. So did I. The cost was around $100.

An electric fence is much easier to install than an "invisible fence". It's also cheaper and more reliable. An invisible fence wire has to form a loop. It uses light-gauge wire (18-gauge) which is cheap, but vulnerable to breaks (and good luck finding the breaks - good luck repairing them). But an electric fence runs from the powered terminal of the energizer out to wherever your fence ends. The circuit is not closed until something or someone touches the wire and becomes the path to ground. And since it is visible, it's easy to find any damage.

The disadvantage is that it affects any animal or human that touches it when it's powered up. The invisible fence only affects an animal wearing a collar (but the collar itself is expensive and the batteries are an ongoing expense).

The electrified fence is also visible and not terribly attractive and might not be allowed in some neighborhoods.

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