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Training Your Dog Not to Dig Digging

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Ever spend an afternoon adding some color to your yard with bedding plants? And, then have your inquisitive canine dig them up before you could finish putting away the gardening tools? It, or something similar, probably has happened to all us canine loving folks. Maybe that fact doesn’t make you any less annoyed with your dog, but maybe the following tips will prevent any further dust ups in your garden. 

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Not digging what your dog does to your garden? A few diversionary tactics may help.
  • Reward your inquisitive canine with a treat, praise, petting and/or a round of a favorite non-digging game whenever she/he is in the yard and leaving the dirt alone!
  • Provide enrichment! especially when your dog is left alone, to help prevent boredom related behaviors. Using interactive food toys, scavenger hunts and even creating a special digging pit can help direct energy to specific allowable areas – your dog will be too busy digging through through its own treasure chest or playing with its own games to care about digging in other areas.
  • Review your dog’s exercise routine. If you have an active dog with lots of energy, you’ll want to up the amount of exercise to ensure she/he is more relaxed (and wants to nap) when left alone. This includes other physical and mental activities besides walkies. Similar to humans tiring out after being at a computer all day, dogs can get pooped out after participating in a dog training class or other activity. 
  • Consider other options to being left outside: doggy daycare, pet sitters, dog walkers, getting together with a friend for doggy playdates, or trading dog-sitting duties with other dog guardians.
  • Re-evaluate your home environment: If your dog is more comfortable when indoors, consider creating a safe area of confinement inside your home. You can still use interactive toys for entertainment.
  • Use digging as a reward! Take your dog to an admissible area for digging, then use a phrase like “Go dig!” right before he does. If you put it on cue, you can then use the behavior of digging as a reward in areas your dog likes and that you won’t mind if it’s dug up. It also might come in handy if and when you need help preparing the soil in the garden.

The Inquisitive Canine Doggie Blog is written by Joan Mayer, a certified professional dog trainer based in Santa Barbara, California. Joan is also a human-canine relationship coach and frequently consults with Poncho, her 10-pound mutt who knows a lot about human and canine behavior.

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