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Question
Posted by: Belle | 2003/12/10

Karin - What to do

We have to dogs, a large one and a small one. The problem is that they continuously dig huge holes in the garden. I can't think that they are board as we spend alot of time outside with them in the evenings and over weekends. In the morning they also get attention and treats. They go for walks around the neighbourhood and have toys in the garden (which they don't seem to be interested in). We try to play fetch with them with a ball or a stick but they don't run after it. They also always jump up on us when we are outside and if my children leave anything outside they destroy it. I don't dare get any toys thay have to stay outside like a sandpit because it won't last. I have tried to put their stools into the holes as I heard that this might work but they just dig them right out. Do you have any advice that might help? I would love to have a nice garden. Thanks.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberVet

Hi Belle
You seem to be doing all the right things, except for one. Your dogs should be allowed in the house. I know for you it's going to be a difficult one, with kids and toys etc, but I'm sure this is the problem. Your dogs want to be with the "pack" and going out to them is just not enough. They may be digging to make you go out more, even if they get reprimanded or punished for it. The jumping up is just excitement which wouldn't happen if they were with you more. It's important to ignore the digging completely (no reprimanding or punishing the dogs) and fill in the holes when the dogs are not around. Giving them a "legal" digging area is a good idea and encourage them to look for toys, bones etc. there (which you have planted). Have you tried giving them cowhooves, ostrich sinews, rawhide and large marrow bones to chew? You can also rub some fishpaste or peanut butter on toys or stuff a Cong or Treatball with food to get them interested. You will just have to keep children's toys out of reach until the dogs have their own and can distinguish the difference. Perhaps mark children's toys with a scent like deodorant or powder and whenever a dog has one swop it with one of his toys, slowly removing the child's toy without saying anything. Walks need to be daily, for about 10 to 30 mins and preferably on long leads - too much walking can be as bad as too little. Perhaps allow them in the house one at a time for an hour at a time, with a toy to chew. Close bedroom doors at first. Ignore whatever he does and relax - sit down and watch while he bounds and sniffs around. Gradually you can let them in more and more, but encourage them to relax by being relaxed (e.g. when you watch TV at night) yourselves. Jumping up can usually be prevented by avoiding eye contact and turning away from your dog. Get into the habit of greeting your dogs once they are calm and have all four feet on the ground or are sitting. They will soon learn that they only get your attention when they are not jumping.
Karen Gray-Kilfoil
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