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04 Feb 2004

Dogs digging the garden
Hi Cybervet,
This may not seem like a medical question, but believe me, my dogs' health is at very serious risk if their behaviour continues! I have an 8 year old Boerboel X dog, a 2 year old Rottweiller bitch, and a 1 year old Jack Russell bitch. They have completely destroyed my once beautiful garden, and I have learned to deal with the fact that I can never have flowers, like normal people:-) However, last week I decided to try and cover up the bare earth that now surrounds my home, and had instant lawn laid - a huge expense, as you can imagine. Anyway, the dogs are all still digging away and have again destroyed a good portion of the new grass. I am able to lock up the Jack Russell in the yard for the 14 days that I need to let the roots take, but this isn't really an option for the others. Is there anything that I can do to stop them from going onto the new lawn? Any advice would be most welcome. I've only just talked my husband out of taking them down to the SPCA!
Thanks
Answer 475 views
Expert
CyberVet
cybervet

01 Jan 0001

Hi Mandy
There are many reasons why dogs dig and keeping them off the lawn is not really the answer as it will limit their space and frustrate them more. I have found that Buffalo grass is the best as it is thick and tough, so hope this is what you have! You can limit their access to parts of the lawn (perhaps the most visible) by laying down wire mesh or fencing, but this will be temporary. In the meantime you need to think about why your dogs are digging. Are they bored? - they need daily walks, a view out of the property, adequate food 2x a day, toys to chew like cowhooves and bones and access into the house as much as possible. Are you out a lot? - dogs can suffer from separation anxiety and all the above will help. Also make a point of ignoring them for a few minutes before going out and when coming in. Leave extra chewy toys out when you go out and pick them up when you get home. Are they getting too much or too little attention? - this will cause them to demand attention by digging. Dogs like this don't mind whether you love them or shout at and punish them, it's all attention. Ignore the holes completely. If you have to cover them up do it when the dogs are not around to see. Use rubber gloves, shoes and a spade so they do not smell you so easily. Put their faeces in the hole which will probably stop them digging there again. Water the area well afterwards. Jack Russells love to dig and you may find you need to make a digging patch for the dogs. Choose an area that they like to dig in, but isn't a crucial gardening spot, perhaps out of view behind a bush. Dig up the soil so it's loose and moist and bury a few of their toys, while they are looking. If you catch them digging anywhere else call them to their digging patch and encourage them to do it there.
Good luck!
Karen Gray-Kilfoil
ANIMAL BEHAVIOURIST
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