Digging the Whole Truth

By Marion C. O'Neil CPDT-KA, CTDI

 My dog loves to dig. I think sometimes my dog is digging to China because there is free steak and endless belly rubs at the other end.  I’m a dog trainer but what is more important is I’m human.  I’ll admit it I know it’s my fault.  My husband has a major problem with my (not our) dog making the yard look like a bomb riddled mine field. The most common reason why a dog will dig is because they are plain old “bored.” Doesn’t my dog know I’ve things to do? I’m too busy to entertain & play with her every waking hour. I’ll admit it it’s been too cold and icy to take her out for our daily walks lately. I can’t even play fetch because the ball gets buried in the snow then she has to dig into the snow to retrieve the ball. It’s an endless circle.  Digging in the snow is almost as fun as unearthing the ground. I have to omit It gave her something to do while I was chopping the never ending ice off of my driveway. Face it digging is a great fun for a dog who needs exercise & mental stimulation. As I write this article my husband is wagging his finger at me saying “spring is coming so you better teach that dog not to dig any holes in the yard.” Yes the much anticipated spring season is coming soon. The melting snow combined with the ground defrosting equals fun loving mud for my dog. The temptation is far too great for my dog. Right after a good spring or summer rain is her all-time favorite time to dig. The ground is more pliable and desirable for digging.

  Why is it my job to teach the dog not to dig? I say “let the dog dig!” She should be allowed to dig but not wherever she wants. It’s so much easier to teach a dog what to do then it is to teach a dog what not to do. Here’s my plan - I’m giving her very own personal Puppy Pit to dig in this spring. She can dig to her hearts content or to China whichever comes first. I found a nice spot in the backyard under some big pine trees. It’ll be great shady spot for her in the summer. Last year she was caught excavating in that same area. I was lucky enough to have inherited an unwanted resin raised garden box about an 8’ x 8’ x 2’ square. When the ground thaws I’m going to till the soil while adding in some sand (sand box quality not construction-grade for mixing into concrete) then top it off with the garden box. In the Puppy Pit I’ll hide a couple of old toys maybe a bone or two and some biscuits. I know this will increase the reward for digging in her Puppy Pit. If I see her digging somewhere other than where she is allowed to dig I’ll mark the incorrect behavior with a marker word ”wrong” then take her over to her Puppy Pit to encourage her to dig there. I’ll add goodies from time to time so the Puppy Pit will remain an attractive place to visit. It’ll be very important to remember to praise and reward her when she heads there on her own. I’m making a promise to myself and my dog to keep her exercised, entertained and most importantly to be outside when she is outside as much as humanly possible.  I’ll know there might be a couple mistakes so wish me luck!

Marion C. O’Neil CPDT-KA


New Classes Starting:

Puppy Bowl Party                 2/4 Sun 2:00 p.m.   

Puppy I Manners               1/25 Thur. 7:30 p.m.

Teenrover/Adult-Manners   1/22 Mon. 6:00 p.m.

Teenrover/Adult-Manners    1/28 Sun. 11:00 a.m.

Novice Trick Dog (NTD)            2/24 Sat. 10:00 a.m  

AKC Canine Good Citizen 2/19 Mon. 7:00 p.m.  

Puppy I Manners                 2/10 Sat. 12:30 p.m.

Teenrover/Adult-Manners   2/11 Sun. 1:00 p.m. 

Check calendar for more scheduled classes!