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Stop schnauzer digging

October 6, 2011

Our pup is 9 months now. The first 6 mos were SO easy. The last few have been challenging. He is coming into his terrible teens or something along these lines. He stopped targeting other puppies to wrestle with at the dog park and follows around the big boys sniffing and mimicking them exactly.

I am a renter and today and he got bored or excited after an hour or minute (not sure!) and dug up moss and bulbs. The yard does not have a lawn really. I am in Portland Oregon presently, a temperate rainforest. This means that the ground is moist and pillowy soft. There are sparse tufts of grass and moss fills all the remaining gaps. Our pup dug two large holes with very little dig effort. It probably only took him a couple minutes.

My housemate said I could not put the dog outside anymore unless I was watching him. I can’t parent 24/7 or lock him up all day in a crate. He gets loads of exercise (daily 3 walks, mental training, and a dog park or trail hike every other day). He is puppy….

The last time he dug was weeks ago. He dug at a puddle beneath the rain gutter spout. I told him no and put a chair over the area. He has never returned, but clearly he just picked another area. He seems fairly indiscriminate. The ground is soft everywhere.

I don’t leave him out all day. I have been slowly putting him in the backyard for more and more time with supervision and this month it has been partial supervision. His favorite activity was dragging every item that he can pick up to our tree (strange, but not destructive). Now he switched gears. New toys don’t interest him as much as that dirt.

I read a lot about digging, but when I read “instinctual”, it is hard to have hope. It is like a switch was turned on in him that I can’t turn off again. That switch controlled digging, marking, circling before laying down, and a numerous other instinctual acts…

So back to the holes….after mending the holes, I researched potential solutions. Below I listed the ones that sounded best. I will apply them in my home and update you guys on progress.

  • I will continue to only put him in the yard with supervision for a while or only for 15-20 minutes unwatched. If I have time to watch him from inside the house, I will do this for longer periods, so I can spot trouble behaviors and respond.
  • I fixed the hole under the tree and put his own poop in the hole, so he smells it and leaves it. Apparently dogs will not dig up their own feces. Clearly, you don’t want to do this in your garden.
  • I will buy a high power squirt gun to shoot him when he thinks he is alone and starts to dig. I am a pacifist, so buying a gun is big deal for me. I plan to shoot him through a window screen or from behind a bush or fence and not make myself seen before or after the shot. This plan requires getting him every time and stealth, but our pup behaves differently when alone and that is what we need to fix. Alternatively, you can use a sprinkler system if you can turn it on without them seeing you do it.

If you have any more advice for me I would love to hear it!

UPDATE: The poop worked where I used it and I didn’t need a water gun. Poor side effect was that he started to do additional business in the area, rather than the back corner of the yard where we trained him to do his business. Also our schnauzer pup was not the only digger! I caught the older dog digging and investigated the scene. The squirrels have been burying peanuts in the same spot!!! Both dogs are eating them!

UPDATE: Fig may not be the digger at all! Read here


From → Firsts, Training

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