If your dog's passion in life seems to be to trample your flowers and dig crater-sized holes in your backyard, it's probably time to teach him right from wrong. Your dog's yard-destroying behavior can be triggered by various factors -- maybe he's bored out of his mind or maybe he's trying to tell you he needs more attention. Whatever the reason, yelling at him isn't going to solve the problem and might even worsen it. You're best off redirecting his attention to appropriate activities and reinforcing them with plenty of praise and delicious treats.
Create a separate area in the backyard just for your dog. Place a child-size sandbox in the area and fill it with sand. Bury bones and dog toys in the sand so your dog can satisfy his urge to dig while eagerly looking for treasure. Hang dog toys from tree branches or attach them to ground stakes to help lure your dog to the area.
Watch your pet companion when he's in the backyard. When you see him going toward an off-limits area or catch him digging where he's not allowed, blow a whistle and say "no" or "no dig" with a firm tone of voice. The whistle will stop him in his tracks so you can instantly take him to the separate area that you've created for him. Alternatively, give him a toy to play with. Always praise him and give treats when he does what you want him to do.
Make off-limits areas inaccessible to your dog. Spread small rocks over areas where you don't want your dog to dig -- the rocks will feel uncomfortable to your dog's paws. Protect plants and flowers with a fence made from chicken-wire mesh.
Spice up your dog's life, because if your dog is bored or attention-deprived he's more likely to look for trouble and tear up the yard. Provide him with a variety of dog toys including challenging food-stuffed toys -- a treat-filled cereal box with holes in it can provide hours of fun. Make obedience-training sessions part of your daily routine. Give him daily workouts -- play fetch and tug-of-war with him so he can burn some energy. Take long walks, making sure to periodically change your course so your dog can sniff and explore new areas.
Bury the bottom of the fence around your backyard about 2 feet deep if you suspect that your dog's inappropriate backyard behavior is an attempt to escape. Alternatively, cover the ground along the bottom of the fence with large rocks or chicken-wire mesh to make it unpleasant to walk on and impossible to dig up.
Items You Will Need
- Child-size sandbox
- Dog toys
- Ground stakes
- Dog treats
- Small rocks
- Chicken-wire mesh
- Cereal box
- Large rocks
- The Humane Society of the United States:
- Dog Star Daily: Digging Problems
- Dog Lovers Companion; Paul McGreevy
- Rancho Coastal Humane Society: Dog Digging My Yard… Ask a Trainer
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.