Tuesday, February 2, 2010

5 Tips to Stop Your Dog From Digging

How on earth do you stop your dog from digging holes in your garden, lawn and flower bed? The good news is that you don't have to live on a gopher hill. Use these tips to level the playing field!

Pay attention to the obvious. A bored dog will dig for the mere pleasure of expending energy. Exercise your dog, supply him with chew toys, and provide regular activities to deter him from digging. During warm weather, dogs dig for comfort. The earth is cool and they lie on it to reduce body heat. Make sure that your dog has fresh water and shaded rest area. By instinct, dogs will bury bones and treats. When you distribute these goodies, control the food supply and make sure that excess food items are not smuggled into the backyard.

Research the breed before you buy a dog. If you're looking to adopt a dog and you're worried about digger damage, the solution is simple: Do some research and steer clear of breeds that are predisposed to digging. To some degree, all dogs dig, but some breeds are designed for the task, such as Border collies, terriers, dachshunds and basenjis. As a general rule, smart dogs dig out of boredom, rodent hunters dig out of instinct, and bird dogs dig to bury food.

Catch him in the act. If you already own a dog and he's removing dirt from your backyard with the speed of a rototiller, catch him in the act and reprimand him by immediately going to the hole and firmly saying "No." Point to the hole and remove him, gently but firmly, from the area where he is digging. By repeatedly and consistently rebuking his digging activities, you will curtail such behavior. The important thing to remember is that dogs do not understand cause and effect in the context of time. If you don't catch him in the actual act of digging, your reprimand will mean nothing.

Create a designated digging area. Let's assume that your dog is a compulsive digger who disregards all commands to cease and desist. One solution is to restrict his digging activity to a particular section of the yard. Create a sandbox where digging will be permitted. If you catch your dog digging in another section of the yard, reprimand him on the spot and walk him to the sandbox. Encourage him to dig in the designated area and praise him for doing so.

Make it difficult and unrewarding to dig. If your dog repeatedly digs in a certain area of the yard, introduce some natural deterrents that will inhibit his efforts. For example, plant ground pepper or seed the soil with gravel. If you make it unpleasant and difficult to dig, your dog will usually lose interest. Some dog owners claim that chicken wire, laid horizontally just below the surface of the digging area, is a good deterrent. A proven, but less aesthetic solution, is to drop fresh dog feces in the current hole that your dog is digging. Dogs have no problem marking their territory with urine and feces but they definitely don't want to dig in it.

Remember, most of these solutions are effective but they require persistence and repetition. Be patient and be consistent!

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