Desperate Landscapes - How to Prevent Digging and Destructive Behavior in Your Yard

  • By Kathy McRoberts
  • 03 Sep, 2012

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
www.UnleashedCanineObedience.com  
IACP Member #3141
Phone: 513.317.7484



Cincinnati Dog Knowledge Center

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Healthy oral hygiene is important for our pet for multiple reasons. Clean teeth are not only cosmetically pleasing; they also promote good smelling breath and better long-term health.

If poor oral health causes an infection in our pet’s teeth or gums, it can spread to their kidneys. This is especially true in cats. Older cats often suffer from   kidney failure, which can be caused by an oral infection spreading to kidneys. Valvular   heart disease   can also be caused by poor dental hygiene. Bacteria from a pet’s mouth can travel to its heart valves, causing them to change shape and become leaky.

By Pets in Need 18 Sep, 2017
Many people are afraid of pet insurance because of the issues associated with human health care, but the systems are very different. In the human managed health care system insurance companies make agreements with networks and the insured person has little to no say. Because of the way human managed care works, insurance companies have a lot of control over which doctors humans can use, what services they can receive, and how much they have to pay. Conversely, in the pet insurance market, pet owners have more control because pet insurance is an individual contract between the pet owner and insurance company. Pet insurance companies can’t tell pet owners what network of veterinarians to use and decisions about the care of a pet remain entirely between the veterinarian and pet owner. All the pet insurance companies do is pay out their portion of care as detailed in the policy or contract.
By West Chester Pet Resort & Spa 20 Jun, 2017
Now that summer is just around the corner, family vacations are about to be in full swing. While traveling with your pet certainly has its benefits, there are things that you need to know before jet-setting with Fluffy in tow.

First and foremost, having your pet as your co-pilot completely alleviates the worry of who is going to care for them while you're away. This question is always an anxiety for pet owners. The option of traveling with them is especially beneficial if your pet has behavioral issues such as separation anxiety.

Crating your pet while driving to your destination is never a bad option. They're confined and safe, and you as the driver are less distracted. Just be sure to remove collars and leashes to prevent a strangling incident and keep the air flow on them.

If your pet has never been crated, you can find a great video here  by "Dog Guru" Cesar Milan on tome tips and tricks to crate training.

While the car is in motion, feeding your dog is one big "Don't!" If you are on an extended road trip and your pet needs a meal, the next time you stop, feed a small snack- preferably high in protein. And remember to never leave your furry friend in the car, especially during these warm months!

Now, traveling with your pet in an airplane is a much more complicated process as you will more than likely want to book a direct flight. Communicating with the airline prior to travel dates is absolutely imperative. Many airlines have strict regulations for canine and feline travel and their regulations may vary based on the airline and the destination.

However you decide to travel, always remember that if you are taking a not-so-pet-friendly vacation, we would love your pet to stay with us while you are away.  West Chester Pet Resort offers a variety of services to make your pets stay a fun- filled adventure. Call to book your pet’s adventure today!

-West Chester Pet Resort & Spa
http://www.wcpetresort.com/
513-898-9631
By Kathy McRoberts 03 Dec, 2014

Original article by Marybeth Bittel, Tails Magazine


When I was a young music student growing up in Chicago’s western suburbs, my family adopted an Airedale puppy we named Beethoven. I picked Beethoven out at the shelter because all the other puppies rushed forward to greet me, while he hid shyly in the corner. Most trainers agree that’s not necessarily the ideal benchmark for selecting a furry friend, but we got lucky. Beethoven matured into an outgoing, even-tempered, fun, and affectionate family member who sternly guarded our front yard one minute, and romped through our sprinkler the next.

But then came the Fourth of July. Fireworks went off at random intervals around the clock. We discovered that when it came to loud noises and ear-popping explosions, Beethoven was absolutely terrified.

At first we wondered how this could have happened. After all, we’d never left our beloved boy outside while pyrotechnics peppered the sky. He hadn’t been exposed to extreme noises as a puppy. In all likelihood, Beethoven’s fireworks aversion, like so many pet fears and phobias, was just one of those things that took hold when his sensitive hearing encountered a sudden trigger he could neither see nor anticipate.

So we did what numerous pet parents do when their cherished companion is struggling: we cuddled him, coddled him, and cooed comforting words of reassurance. We also sat, feeling helpless, watching him cower and hide as the problem held steady each year. In fact, through all the years of Beethoven’s life, he never overcame this disabling sense of distress, no matter how soothing or supportive we attempted to make his surrounding environment.

When my husband and I began working with abused rescue dogs, we noticed that most arrived with an array of deep-rooted anxieties acquired over time. One Bichon was terrified of rotary fans. A Shih Tzu mix became a jittery mess during thunderstorms. A sweet and docile Foxhound routinely hid from houseplants. These fears ran the gamut, but they had one thing in common: They were exceedingly real to the dog, and they had a great impacts on the entire family.

We began working with local animal behaviorists, and that’s when we learned an invaluable truth:  The way we, as caregivers, react to our pet’s anxieties can actually perpetuate the patterns.

Why would this be? As Abe Mashal, owner of Marine Corps Dog Training in St. Charles, explains, “Dogs form extremely solid bonds with their humans. That means most canines are highly attuned to any type of interaction with their human ‘pack’ members.” So when something a dog is doing  earns our attention—whether that attention takes the form of praise, pampering, or peevish irritation— the behavior is often unintentionally reinforced.

“Reinforcement,” a common term in the world of animal behavioral training, is really just another word for strengthening. In reality, a reinforcer can be anything that strengthens a behavior.

So for those of you thinking, “I never reinforce my dog’s non-stop barking! I scold her on the spot,” see if these examples sound familiar:

  • You hear your Husky howling, and immediately storm in to reprimand her. How is this reinforcement? To many dogs, having a beloved human present (even a beloved yet annoyed human) is better than feeling lonesome. Your dog begins to think her howling is prompting you to chime in.
  • Your Lab whines pitifully as you begin to leave the house, so you return to take him with you. Over time, your dog starts believing that his whining causes you to come back for him (Pavlov’s theory, anyone?).
  • Your Westie mix cowers and growls behind the sofa whenever company arrives, so you pick him up and coo “Ohhhh, you’re fine, what a gooooood boy….” Soon, your dog begins to equate hiding and trembling with oodles of TLC.

“Every interaction with your dog has the potential to teach and reinforce, merely because you’re paying attention,” explains Sara Swan, owner of Narnia Pet Behavior & Training in Plainfield. How can you tell if this is happening? Simply observe over time. Dogs continue to engage in behaviors that provide some sort of payoff. If you’re dealing with a fear or anxiety response that’s ongoing—such as Beethoven’s abhorrence of fireworks—some kind of inducement is likely contributing to the pattern. In Beethoven’s case, his reactions earned him almost round-the-clock nurturing.

Fortunately, we as dog parents can leverage these same dynamics when it comes to re-programming undesirable behaviors. Let’s say your 80-pound “lap dog” excitedly jumps on you whenever you come home from work. When you withhold the coveted attention—immediately going back out the door, or turning your back on him—many pups gradually begin to seek out a different behavior.

The same thing can work with a fear response. If your pet is terrified of your Swiffer mop, for example, try propping it against the family room couch and just leaving it there. Then, simply act like it’s no big deal and go about your daily routine, even if your pup exhibits an unsettled reaction. Very gradually, over time, as your furry friend begins to approach the mop with quiet but tentative curiosity, reward that calm behavior with brief praise or a small treat. Keep it up, and eventually your dog can learn that “mop = calm = good.”

Helping your dog manage his stress is one of the keys to having a happy and healthy pet. If your animal companion has specific challenges beyond what you’re comfortable handling, always reach out to a certified animal behaviorist who can help you develop targeted interventional techniques that will work on your pet’s unique needs. It will not only help with unwanted behaviors, but strengthen your bond, as well.

Safe, Drug Free Ways To Soothe Your Pet’s Stress

The Thundershirt. The ThunderShirt leverages the age-old principle of swaddling an infant to promote calming reassurance. Simply fasten this snug, stretchy shirt around your pet’s ribcage. During anxious episodes of panting or hyperventilation, it provides ongoing sensory feedback that suppresses this common panic response. ( Thundershirt.com )

Music or ASMR. As a musician, I can attest firsthand that deep, resonant tones often work wonders on a nervous pup. You can also try leveraging something called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), which is promoted by many hypnotists and human sleep therapists. ASMR is a subjective, perceptual phenomenon characterized by a distinct calming or scalp- tingling sensation in response to quiet, seemingly mundane sound triggers. Certain pets appear especially receptive, and may even be lulled to sleep. To gauge effectiveness, try playing low, calming music or ASMR audio with your dog in the room. Use a meditation CD, or visit YouTube to access ASMR recordings by reputable “ASMRtists” such as The Waterwhispers.

Calming Sprays. Help create a relaxing environment for your pet by using a calming spray on their bedding or by plugging in a calming spray diffuser. Many cats and dogs experience reduced anxiety and stress after being exposed to these non- sedating sprays, which use soothing scents such as lemongrass, cinnamon, and lavender to encourage relaxation.



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