Original article by Virginia Simpson, Unleashed Canine Obedience, Sept, 2012
I had a very exciting event happen this week at Unleashed Canine Obedience! I was invited to be a guest speaker on a DIY show coming up in September called Desperate Landscapes to talk about troubleshooting poor doggie behaviors in the backyard. Shooting was on Thursday and went well, but of course I left there and thought of all the ways I should have said some things and all the things I forgot to say that I should have said! So, I will lay some of them out here for one of the items covered.
When I hear that a dog is tearing up the yard, I usually expect to find a young, energetic, highly intelligent, under-stimulated (bored), under-exercised and frustrated dog. Sometimes though, if it’s been really hot outside, I might find an overheated dog. Either way, I want to address the needs of the dog and then solve the specific training needs for good outdoor manners.
Firstly, you need to find out why your dog is digging. For example, is it hot out and they’re trying to find a cool place to lie down? Are they trying to dig out of the yard? (Dogs that are not neutered or spayed are much more likely to want to wander the neighborhood) Are there moles or insects underground they're trying to get at or are they digging just because it's fun and they have a lot of excess energy mixed in with a lack of something else to do? Are they mimicking you when you are gardening? In other words, what's the payoff for digging? Got moles? Get rid of them and you might solve your problem quickly! Dog’s hot? Provide shade, a cool place to lay and plenty of cold water.
If it is not a quick fix like getting rid of pests or providing cold water, you will need to manage the environment and your dog. You need to supervise your dog in the yard until you are sure they understand the rules of the yard; especially young and energetic dogs. You spend a large amount of time teaching your dog the proper rules in the house and limit their access to the inside of the home until you know they are ready for more freedom. You have to take the same approach to the backyard.
Prevention strategies could include providing your dog with an appropriate amount of exercise; tired dogs don’t tend to dig or engage in other destructive behaviors as much and remember that dogs do not know that they need to run laps around their yard to get the juice out! Exercise and mentally stimulate your dog by taking them on walk/runs or playing fetch with them; then after the dog is properly exercised for their particular breed and age, provide other things for them to do in the yard, i.e. toys, bones to chew, games to play. Keep these items up out of view until you are ready to be outside and then present them to your dog. That way the items will be more exciting and will keep their attention longer.
Other fixes might include, providing an approved digging area in your yard. You could also take them to places that are appropriate for digging and they can get it out of their system, like on trail runs or in creek beds; maybe a weekly excursion through a nearby woods or beach depending on where you live. “You cannot dig here, but you can dig here!”
You can also try an effective correction, for example, lava rocks in the holes, feces in the hole (except if the dog displays Coraphagia), Cayenne pepper/Tobasco sauce or chicken wire in the hole. These things will make it unpleasant to dig and don’t necessarily require your presence like a squirt with a water bottle might. But really, nothing beats supervision and redirection onto appropriate activities. This allows you to actually teach alternative behaviors.
And I gotta say it! A well trained and more obedient dog is just going to make better decisions when left on their own at times. Set your dog up for success and take the time to train your pup and spay/neuter for a happy, fun and safe life with you! Happy fall gardening this month!
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact me any time!
Virginia L. Simpson
Certified Dog Trainer
Unleashed Canine Obedience, LLC
IACP Member #3141
Education is the first step in pet poison prevention.
Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The Pet Poison Helpline provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:
Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by clicking here
A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.
Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.
Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.
In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.
Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.
If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information. Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.