From Hobo the Bearded Collie
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Welcome to my advice column.  Remember, I am only a dog like you.  My opinions are to the best of my knowledge but are only opinions, researched or what I feel is correct.. The writer of this page is not responsible for any actions the reader may take as a result of reading this column.  If that is OK with you, keep reading.  If not, then go back and enjoy the other pages. You can address your questions to Hobo by Email with the topic Hobo's Advice (click on my picture)  

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Current Column - Digging

I recently got married and moved out of my mothers home into an apartment. I had to leave my dog a wolf/husky mix there because of the lack of a yard. She has become destructive by digging swimming pools into the yard! I am not sure how to make her stop. Any advice?

We will answer this specific question, but point out that in many cases the issue is the cause for digging rather than trying to stop the behavior by discipline or preventative measures such as filling the holes with rocks or wire. Find the cause, deal with that, and the digging will for the most part stop.

Quick fixes to the hole won't work in the long run. You can stop him from digging in that one, but another will develop somewhere else. I think you mentioned something that indicated it was taking place all over the yard - so it doesn't sound like there is a particular objective (like escape).

Digging is natural with dogs - to get to prey, store collectibles (such as bones) or make shelter to get warm or cool off. Of course it may also be just trying to get around obstacles to escape, get to dogs passing by or
something similar. Understand that there are other theories. Dogs and Wolves have scent glands on the bottom of their feet. Digging lets them leave a mark that can be seen and sensed by other animals. Sometimes if we just have one hole it is enough. Or it can be Frustration and Boredom - maybe he is just having fun by himself because no one else provides it

But it can be "compulsive" behavior too. We of course recommend the companionship, exercise and mental stimulation along with checking out the diet. But here are some other things that have been suggested

(obligatory remarks):

Shelter: to eliminate this as being a cause make sure there
is a comfortable place in the yard to go.

Area: Consider a dog run to confine the activity

Startle: Shake a can with some pennies in it and say NO!
(maybe this will train the human to pay attention too) For this to be effective you have to catch them when they start the activity.

The cause in this case could be separation anxiety. It is very possible that
your not being there, and lack of attention, is the cause. The behavior people would look at: (1) where he came from, (2) what his life had been like and (3) and what changed. You can easily come to a conclusion yourself using the same methods - then would need to change it back to what your dog is used to.

You need to provide your dog with: (1) something to do, (2) a minimum of 30 minutes a day of exercise and (3) some suggest a low protein high quality diet (as with natural senior dog foods containing no preservatives). The more intelligent he is, the more companionship he will need.

Honestly, the companionship issue should be settled and soon. I suspect you will have already known this. If you let it continue the treatment time will lengthen - We have heard of dogs being treated for half a year before they get over anxieties. You can, of course, supply companionship, exercise and something to do all at once - 30 minutes of human involved play every day. But someone will have to be your dog's companion at other times too.

Final note: All too often humans find that some situation has come up which makes it less possible to spend time with their best friend (of course I mean their dog). Problems like digging arise from the situation. I stress that every effort be made to provide some way of satisfying the dog's mental activity requirements, exercise, and companionship. Even a few minutes a couple times a day of good hard play can help. Most of all, your dog needs you. But when you can't be there, try to provide for these activities and companionship. Ask a neighbor, family member or friend to help out. Sometimes just being allowed to "stay somewhere" isn't enough.


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