By Suzanne Alicie
Dogs dig! Puppies dig, middle aged dogs dig, and even old dogs dig if they’ve never been taught not to. Some dogs dig even if they know better. Trying to stop your dog from digging up your yard may just end up being a test of wills.
There are a few tips and tricks you can use that may help your case, but in reality it’s hard to break centuries of nature. Dogs smell things constantly and will often dig for the item they smell. This comes in handy if your dog is an Avalanche Rescue Dog – like the CANIDAE-sponsored Scout, who works at Colorado’s Copper Mountain Ski Resort – but if his digging place is your flowerbed or the center of your lawn you may not appreciate it quite as much.
I have a digger. My dog digs up roots and usually eats them. She’s not a puppy and she hears the word “no” quite often when she is digging. After trying all the methods below I’ve finally given up. Instead of trying to change her and make her stop digging, these days I just make sure she has an area to call her own where she can dig without messing up my flowerbeds or the lawn.
First attempt to stop the digger
I walked her around the yard on a leash in order to pull her away and tell her “no” when we got near the flower beds. At that point I wasn’t concerned with the yard, just my flowers. Repeatedly we walked the yard; I enforced her not stepping one fuzzy paw into my flowerbeds over and over. WOW! It worked. She stopped digging in the flower beds. But I couldn’t tell her “no” for the entire yard, so what could I do about that digging?
Second attempt to stop the digger
Because so much of her digging seemed to come directly from what her nose picks up that she thinks needs to be investigated, I made sure I was on hand with a handy doggie repellant spray when she was out in the yard. As soon as I saw her make her first “pounce” and begin the frantic digging, I would run over and tell her no, pull her back and spray the area. Well, it sounded like a good idea at the time, but we’ve got a big yard and I did more running and spraying than I care to remember. She would simply move over a few feet and do it again.
Third attempt to stop the digger
I tried the dreaded electronic collar. I don’t like these things, but when I was at my wits end and the vet recommended one, I figured it was worth a shot. I put it on her and let her out in the yard. When she began to dig I pressed the button on the controller to give her a jolt. She paid it no mind whatsoever and continued her digging. I refused to turn it up and cause my dog pain in any way, so that bright idea was a waste.
Finally there was nothing to do but indulge my digger. The next time she started in on the center of the yard, I led her to a small area at the back of our property. I moved her run down there and shortened it up so that she could only reach the area I decided she could have. You’ve never seen a happier dog! She pounced and jumped and dug to her heart’s content. Once she had established herself as the queen of her area by riddling it with holes, I was able to let her out into the yard again knowing that she would head straight to her area to dig.
If she smells something really interesting, she occasionally attempts to dig in the yard, but all I have to do is tell her to go to her place and she’ll take off at top speed to “get it.” Sometimes it is a root, sometimes it’s a hidden treat, and sometimes she just digs for the joy of digging.
Photo by mercedesbbk
Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie
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