The other day someone responded to one of my dog training ads., saying:
“Can you stop my 5 months old border collie from digging?”
I replied “depends” and explained the correct approach would be finding out why the dog was digging and go from there… to which they replied…
“OK, how do I stop it?”
So let’s talk a bit about that…
You want to know how to stop a dog from digging or doing anything you don’t like, you don’t find a trainer and ask them if they can fix it.
A good trainer will come into your house, will learn about your dog’s habits and lifestyle, how they eat, where they sleep, how much the walk and play, their history, age breed… to then find out what’s causing the problem and help you solve it.
Of course, it is helpful and beneficial to have a trainer come over every week and follow up on the dog’s progress and give you new exercises to implement in training, but don’t be mistaken, you are the one who will train your dog…
Simply because you live with them and training happens in every interaction between you two. Most unwanted behaviors arise when something is too much or missing in the dog’s daily routine.
So, unless you’re planning on hiring a trainer to come live with you (????), you better prepare to put in some work.
We often see a problem and we want to fix it.
In dog training though, many times, the problem is a symptom of a much larger problem which cannot be ignored. The tip of the iceberg if you will!
It’s actually scary to see how much time people spend with dogs they can’t control in some way (digging, barking, chewing, pulling, attacking), without even trying to understand where that is coming from.
I understand maybe you prefer to spend your money on Kmart or H&M (so do I haha), but what about the dog’s quality of life? What about yours?
When you see a problem, you need to understand the source of it, for your own sake.
Knowing what’s causing the issue can easily help you solve, better manage, or, at least, allow you to cope with it.
But ignoring it will almost certainly cause much more serious, deeper problems in the future.
Never ask for a solution from someone who hasn’t seen your dog. It’s like googling health symptoms without seeing a doctor (never, EVER a good idea).
I give A LOT of advice in my classes, still, I always start them with…
“It’s hard to say without seeing the dog” or “It’s hard to say without seeing your house”…
Even though some solutions may seem simple, dog training is not and exact science and each and every dog has different reasons for different behaviours and will respond differently to training (that’s why it is good to do an ongoing work for better results).
Sometimes even pups from the very same litter will present wildly different personalities, so talking about a specific trait without analysing the particular case is pure gamble.
Don’t forget your pup is not a product. They are sensitive caring beings, with feelings and needs and… If they are causing trouble, it is likely they are in distress.
With that all said…
I’m really sorry for the cranky post, but it really upsets me to see how people are always looking for quick ready answers and how much they are not willing to put in the necessary effort into important things.
It’s amazing how there’s always so much money to buy expensive boutique puppies, fancy collars and ridiculously overpriced pet beds – which your dog will never use anyway – but when we talk about training, cash and time are always short.
(Probably should’t be so surprised, since some people even act like this when their children have issues)
… and when the s***t hits the fans, truckloads of money go again, this time in behaviourist vets and anxiety medication for the pups, that they wouldn’t have needed if the training had been done in the first place.
So every time I see something like this, all I can think of is “the dog is going to suffer” (or get returned, like I mentioned before).
I completely understand if you can’t afford ongoing training, it’s not cheap, but at least get informed, and get to work.
So, how do I stop my dog from digging? Damn it!
Finally! The reason why you’ve clicked on this post in the first place.
If you have been reading closely, the answer is, “depends”. But…
What you can definitely try:
- Increase the mental stimulation: some dogs dig out of boredom, so, giving the dogs more activities can help reduce or even stop the digging all together. Training is great for mental stimulation, a few short (up to 5 minutes) training sessions per day can really make a difference.
- Keep your dog occupied: in nature, dogs have one main thing to worry about – what and when they will eat – so you can replicate a bit of that with food interactive toy such as Kongs and similar, cause the longer your dog spends on them, the less they dig.
- Restrict the access: if you have a digger and have something you REALLY, REALLY don’t want them to dig, fence it up! It may not seem a very “dog trainy” solution, but sometimes it’s the best way to avoid frustration.
- Give your dog a place to dig: if you have a dog that really looooves to dig, spare a spot in your garden for them to do so… burying something really yum in that spot will help bringing them to the right one, it will spare the rest of your garden and your pup will love the amazing rewards in the bottom.
Hope this helps!
Give me a shout if you need to know more 😉