Splendid Excavating Alternative
We have a self-watering backyard. Our 1 ½ year old very tall, very strong, mixed-breed Doberman-Great Dane tore up all the lines! So now we are in the process of getting a landscaping contractor to redo them. How do we keep her from doing it again? All I can think of is going around the yard with her, pointing and showing her the lines, and saying, “NO” in a very loud voice. Even if she figures out what I mean I’m afraid she won’t apply it to the other lines.
Your dog won’t get it. Members of her species don’t communicate by pointing and scolding. Even worse, it won’t teach her what to do instead. She’s a natural born digger. She will dig again, with conviction and enthusiasm, just as sure as she will breathe.
Your Doberdane needs a better alternative. Build a 10 foot square digging box, using 1” x 10” lumber, sunk 6” into the ground against the North side of your house. Loosen the earth, add topsoil, and mist with water for an inviting experience. Best of all, your girl will discover buried treasures. Food toys like a Twist ‘n Treat can be stuffed with canned food and frozen overnight. Challenging dry food sources will also be plentiful for foraging. This cornucopia of gastronomic delights will be your canine excavator’s dream.
Dogs are not little people in furry suits; they are scavengers. If you lose the dog food bowl your Danerman will hear the call of the wild and survive by her wits. Every day she will hunt and dig for her sustenance.
You can be the empathic canine leader, treating your dog like a dog. Her new vocation, harkening to her behavioral roots as a scrounger, will require a serious expenditure of energy. Add in play time at doggy daycare, the dog park, or agility and you will have one pooped puppy. And a tired dog is a happy dog.
I advise against pointing at your spaghetti hoses and shouting, for another reason. Your neighbors may suspect you of battling spirits from the underworld of your lawn. It won’t look good.
Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet behavioral or physical questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.