Friday, November 13, 2009

Under The Surface

Dogs dig period. It is a natural canine behavior. However sometimes the digging can get a bit out of control, or compromise the dogs safety. In these cases, we need to dig deep and find out what is going on with the dog....under the surface.
Your first task will be to figure our exactly WHY your dog is digging. Is there a critter living in your flower beds? Is your dog simply looking for the perfect place to marinate his bone? Does your dog enjoy a game of tug of war with roots? Do you live in a hot climate? If so your dog may be digging to stay cool. Or is your dog simply bored, and looking for a way to stimulate his mind? It is important to find the cause behind the digging because the treatment is different for each.
As always remember you cannot scold your dog after the fact. If you come home to find a new hole in your yard, it's too late, better luck next time. If you catch your dog in the act, you can interrupt them with a firm NO and then redirect them to a more appropriate behavior.

After some spying and sleuthing, you've hopefully come to a conclusion about why your dog digs. Did you find a critter in your garden? The best solution here is to have the small animal humanely removed from your yard.
Is your dog digging to bury his bone? Why don't you hold onto the bone for him, and only let him have it when you can supervise him?
Is your dog playing tug of war with trees? Give him something to play with that doesn't destroy your maple. Tie a rope toy or spring toy from a branch and encourage your dog to play with that instead.
If heat is the cause, why not provide your dog with a nice wading pool to cool off in? (Baby pool.) Or better yet, bring your dog inside where the AC is!

If your dog is digging out of boredom, you have a harder task in front of you. Dogs that dig out of boredom often dig out of their yards and 'escape'. Your dog is searching for something to stimulate his mind, and because you did not provide anything for him, he will go and find his own fun. This of course compromises your dogs safety and should be dealt with ASAP!

To prevent your dog from getting under your fence, you can bury chicken wire about one to two feet under the soil at the base of your fence. Once you have your dog securely in your yard, please give Fido something to do! A KONG toy or two stuffed with yummy ingredients such as peanut butter, baby food, cheese or wet food.

If this doesn't work or you find your dog just simply loves to dig, then I say let them. In a controlled and appropriate manner of course.

Build your dog a dig box. (Similar to a child's sand box.) Place it in an area in your yard that will be your dogs dig spot. Fill the box with sand and loose soil. Now, bury items for your dog to find. Make it easy at first until they get the idea. As time moves on you can bury items deeper and deeper. Encourage your dog to dig in that spot and praise them for doing so. Continue to correct the dog anytime he or she digs outside of the box.

You have now successfully taken control of the digging behavior. Congratulations, you and your garden can now breath easy.

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