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Digging in the Garden – How to Stop It?

Prerequisite:

  1. Have read and understood the general rules to solving dog behavior problems. If you have not read them, click here to access the general rules section again

The Steps

  1. Decide on an appropriate alternative behaviour. For us the alternative behavior to having your dog dig just about anywhere it pleases, is digging at its designated spot. Yes, rather than suppress this behavior totally, it is often easier to redirect the digging to an acceptable spot
  2. Set aside a digging area (e.g. a sand box) in your garden. Bury lightly some of your dog’s favourite toys and food treats there, exposing slightly one or two of these toys at the tip of the surface
  3. Bring your dog to this designated spot and point to the ground where the toys and food treats are buried. Your dog will likely sniff the ground, realise that there are goodies buried there and start digging
  4. Click the moment it digs and reward it with one of the buried treasures
  5. Repeat the above till your dog will dig immediately the moment you bring it there. At this stage, add the “Dig” verbal cue. For details of how this is done, refer to our article: Clicker Training for Dogs - Attaching a Verbal Cue
  6. Once you have successfully added the “Dig” verbal cue, the next time you catch your dog digging at an inappropriate spot, simply say “No”, lead it to the designated spot and cue it to dog there. Praise lavishly when it does and occasionally, reward it with a treat or two for digging there
  7. Do step 6 consistently and soon your dog will learn to dig at just the designated spot

 

Special Note:  It is important to note that occasions when you did not manage to catch your dog in the act of digging, do not punish it after the fact. If it happens all to often, you may wish instead to mange the situation by confining your dog indoors or at a place where it cannot dig while left unsupervised. Continue to do this till your dog is reliably trained to dig only at its designated spot.

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