We were recently in Sunrise installing a new Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® System for a client and his German Shepherd named Lucky. Even though they already had a regular fence, Lucky liked to dig and wiggle under it. It took two days to install the underground fence, but once in, Lucky decided he never wanted to go near the fence again. We simply added a consistent deterrent to my client’s current rule of “don’t leave the property”, and Lucky totally understood. Out client was very grateful because the neighbors had called the police several times when Lucky got out. As we were packing up, my client had another question for us. He said that it was great that Lucky wasn’t trying to dig under the fence, but Lucky still liked to dig in the yard. Being dog trainers, he wondered if we had any suggestions to help save his yard and his flower beds from Lucky’s digging.
Many dogs like to dig in the backyard. Probably one in ten of our dog training clients have a dog that has dug up something or is naturally destructive in the back yard. The big solution that most clients use is just yelling at their dog or grabbing their dog and taking him inside. As soon as they stop yelling or the next time they let their dog in the backyard, the digging returns.
We try to explain to our clients that the best way to stop their dog from digging in the yard is to understand why the dog is doing it and then address that issue. The major issue that causes yard digging is boredom. The dog just doesn’t have anything to do. He goes down his list of chasing the squirrel, barking at the gardener next door, waiting at the back door to see if anyone will let him in, and finally gets to digging up the yard. We simply need to take this item off his “to-do list”.
I explained to my client that there are two ways to get Lucky from destructively digging up his back yard. The first way is to make it an unpleasant experience. Since Lucky didn’t run through the sharp thorns of the bougainvillea plants for amusement, it shows that he decided it wasn’t a good idea. We simply have to create the same thought process regarding his yard digging. Here is what I suggested:
- I asked my client to identify two or three of Lucky’s favorite digging spots.
- Once identified, he needed to lay some prickly chicken mesh horizontally about four inches below the surface of the spot.
- Next, he needed to place some of Lucky’s poop on the mesh and them place some sharp road gravel across the entire area.
- Finally, I wanted my client to place some of the soft dirt or grass back on top of the entire area to “reset the scene”.
- I also asked my client to place some of Lucky’s favorite outside toys about six feet away from the “trap”.
The reasoning behind this process is that the next time Lucky goes to dig in “his favorite spot”, it won’t be that much fun. Instead of having a great time digging a big hole, he will run into the rocks, poop, and chicken mesh within a moment or two of his digging. These items won’t damage his paws, but they definitely won’t feel good. As soon as Lucky turns away, he will see his toy and decide that playing with that is better than digging the hole.
I told my client that he needed to continually “reset the traps” so that the digging turns into a constantly unfavorable experience and that playing with his toys becomes a far better experience.
Another option that I offered my client is based on the “If you can’t beat them, join them” principle. Since Lucky enjoys digging, let’s set the rules so that he can dig and it doesn’t hurt the back yard. This solution requires the creation of a “digging pit”.
I told my client that this solution requires the following steps:
- I asked my client to find an area in the yard where he wouldn’t mind having a place just for Lucky. This had to be a place that was approximately six to ten feet square. Lucky is a big dog so he needs a large area.
- The area should be dug out so that it is about six inches below the surface of the surrounding area. It should also be a place where there is ample drainage away from that spot.
- I then told him to clear the area and place a strong drop cloth or pond liner over the area.
- Next, he needs to secure the border of the area. Rock or log walk boarders normally do quite nicely.
- After that, he needs to fill the entire area with sand. Next, place some bones, treats, and toys in the sand. Some of them should be completely buried and some of them should be partially exposed.
- Now, he is ready to go.
- He should bring Lucky out of the house with a treat or a favorite toy. Get Lucky all excited about the object and make a big deal of it as he walks over to the sand pit.
- Dig a little hole in the sand and place the toy in the hole, partially covering it with sand.
- He now needs to make a big deal of it by “Where is the toy? Get it!” so Lucky’s adrenaline is spiked and his focus is on the goodie in the sand.
This process directs Lucky to the great stuff he can dig for and easily get. It removes the focus and distraction on all the other places in the yard where Lucky dug before.
Dogs, just like people, need things to do or they will get bored. Our goal is to give them the things what we want them to do. They are no longer bored and not being destructive or bothersome. We love it whenever you call us with any questions about home dog training or out of sight dog fences. Just click on Dog Fence Training Help Sunrise South Florida or give us a phone call at (954) 472-4724. There is a lot more Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® and dog training suggestions at Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Sunrise South Florida. Robin and I have worked with over 3,500 dogs and families in Sunrise and all over South Florida. If your dog can’t sit or always jumps on you, we are also your best dog training solution. Find out all about our Obedience and Behavior Dog Training Programs by visiting Home Dog Training Sunrise South Florida.