Digging - how to stop Part II

Aside from giving your dog sufficient exercise and interestingthings to do in the yard, make sure your dog is on a high-quality premium hard kibble. Stay away from foods that are often loaded with hidden sugars, chemicals and preservatives (hidden sugars in the form of beet pulp, sucrose, fructose, etc., can exacerbate the dog’s energy levels and lead to digging), such as semi-moist dog foods.

If your dog considers the backyard (or wherever he digs) to be a place of banishment, it is more likely digging will occur there. I am suggesting that your dog should think of the backyard as more than just a place of banishment.

Are you like millions of people who put your dog out in the backyard every day you go to work? Many dogs will feel a certain level of anxiety if the backyard is the place where they’re always left alone. For many owners, this can’t be helped. It is important that you give your dog other, more positive experiences in the yard, as well.

For example, play with the dog in the backyard regularly. You can also feed the dog in the backyard and obedience train your dog in the backyard. Help the dog to associate positive things with the yard and you will be eliminating one of the major causes of digging.

Digging - how to stop Part I

Digging is a common and very normal behavior for dogs. As with all problems, it is important tounderstand the reasons behind the behavior. With digging there are many motives. Dogs dig because they are bored. They dig when it is hot because they like to lie in holes to get cooler. They dig to escape. They bury objects. Sometimes dogs simply dig because they like to.

In dealing with a digging problem, first understand that every dog has a certain amount of energy to expend each day. Sufficient exercise is often an excellent way to burn off excess energy and frequently helpsin curtailing digging behavior.

You must remember, exercise programs will vary from breed to breed and dog to dog, so check with your veterinarian. Also remember that simply leaving your dog alone in the yard does not count as exercise. You must exercise the dog!

You need to giveyour dog things to do that are more interesting to him than digging holes.

Tere are a number of creative toys that can keep most dogs occupied and interested. Consider toys like a Buster Cube or Boomer Ball.

The Buster Cube is a plastic square that you can put small pieces of food in. The dog can get the food, but only after shaking and moving the cube around. This will keep many dogs focused for

Boomer Balls are hard plastic balls that some dogs love to chase around. They are generally too large for most dogs to fit in their mouths, although many dogs will certainly try. Some dogs will bat at the ball with their paws, push it around the yard with their chests and have a great time playing ball and not digging holes.

Make it a point to play with your dog and these toys in the yard.

Doing this will get the dog interested in the toys and teach him there are other fun activities in the yard besides digging. Nylabones, Kongs, and Rhino toys will also focus your dog on something other than digging.

Playing with your dog (part II)

Another good idea is to combine training and playing.
Example: If you take your dog for a walk in open space, like a park, the mountain, a beach etc, and your dog starts walking away from you. Then a good thing to do is not to call him/her back, you can turn and start walking to the opposite direction. As soon as your dog understands that you are not close s/he will come back to you. As soon as s/he does that you can praise and pet him/her. This is a very good exercise in order to make your dog follow you when s/he is unleashed and also a great way to show him/her who the leader is in a very nice and effective way.

Examples of unacceptable ways of playing with your dog include:
Teasing, slapping, wrestling, chasing, allowing him/her to bark at you. You should not allow your dog to demand that you play with him/her. Also you should not use your hands as a toy, allowing him to nip, and tug-of-war.

Playing with your dog

The first step is to find the appropriate play and chew toys for your puppy. Some examples are:

  • Kong or Rhino toys
  • Nylabones
  • Hard rubber balls large enough so they don’t get stuck in your dog’s throat
  • Soft flying disks
  • Interactive play toys like Buster cube (a square box where you can put food in)

Some examples of unacceptable toys are:

  • Tennis balls and stuffed toys
  • Ropes and similar, as such toys can lead some dogs to become aggressive
  • Rubber toys that can be chewed into little pieces, as these can be threatening to your dog’s health

In order to make the desired toys attractive to your dog, they must become a main source of interaction between you and your dog. Play with your dog and his/her toys. If you also appraise the dog when playing with the toys, you will make him/her seek them out on their own. When s/he seeks them out you should praise this behavior.

A great game to play with your dog is fetch using a toy that you are holding. You throw the toy and give the “fetch” order to your dog. The desired reaction would be for the dog to bring back the toy and either leaves it in front of your feet or in your hands. This can happen either on its own or after you giving the command. In case the dog doesn’t bring back the toy, s/he runs off, refuses to give it back or just stops playing, then you should stop playing for 10-15 minutes.

Teach your dog proper house behavior

doIf you want to your dog to be able to move around the house, then you must make certain that s/he is ready to do so. This means that s/he follows the rules you have set, i.e s/he is calm and obedient. If your dog is not properly trained before left unleashed in the house this could create numerous problems. Don’t feel bad for your dog this will only happen for a short period, until s/he learns what you want after consistent and proper training.

In the begging you should leash your puppy and walk him/her around the house in order to teach the appropriated behavior. When your puppy tries to reach for a shoe, or walks towards your bedroom, you can gently pool him/her back and continue your walk around the house.

When you are teaching your puppy proper behavior in the house you must be consistent and have patience.

After you have finished with your walk in the house you should lead the dog to a safe place. You can leash him/her somewhere s/he can see you and teach him/her to stay there and not walk around in the house. Please be careful when you leash your puppy. Avoid places where s/he can climb because it can be dangerous for him/her to hang from the leash!!! You can use a rag, or pillow for your puppy to stay on, or give him/her a toy, in order to make your puppy enjoy staying in the safe spot you have chosen.

If you use a crate, you can make it really enjoyable to your dog by putting all his/her toys and give him/her some food treats while in there. Then the dog will associate positively and s/he will want to stay there.

If your puppy starts doing "crazy" things when in the house, like running around or grabbing items,don't worry, this is normal and shows energy. What you can do is take him/her outside to play and exercise.