When Sherlock is wearing his vest, he’s a perfect service dog in training. He doesn’t pull on his leash. He waits politely before he enters or exits a door. When I’m working at my desk, he lays at my feet. Then we come home, and the vest comes off and he’s a ten month old Golden Retriever. When I came home from work on day last week I had a headache, so I put Sherlock out for a bit and dozed off. Ooops. When I went outside to check on him he was covered in mud, and I had two new holes in my yard.
But, really, it wasn’t Sherlock’s fault. It was mine. While we were together all day, and that’s mentally stimulating, I didn’t provide him with the opportunity to burn off his physical energy. So, he dug a couple of holes. I could’ve prevented it. I blame my aching head.
Tip One: Go Outside Together
If I’d gone outside with Sherlock, I’d have seen the behavior and stopped it or redirected it. (I’ve read about digging zones, but never tried one.) I could have thrown the ball or taken him out on the wash for a walk. But, I was inside dozing off. On the positive, at least he dug the holes in an area with a more weeds than grass. 🙂
Tip Two: Exercise
It comes down to my mom’s favorite quote: A good dog is a tired dog. If you take your dog on a long hike, or a swim, or an hour long jog around the neighborhood, he isn’t going to be as likely to dig holes. Can I promise you it will never happen? Nope. But there’s nothing wrong with stacking the odds in your favor.
I also encourage you to provide mental exercise. Practice the basic sit, or work on building core strength, or teach your dog place. It doesn’t have to be a long session, fifteen minutes of focused attention will do the trick.
Tip Three: A Secure Pen
What Sherlock found particularly enticing was a spot in my yard where the water pools. He’s crazy for the water anyway, and he found digging there irresistible. If I’d put him in his kennel over a slab of cement, he wouldn’t have had anyplace to dig. (You can see his kennel there in the background.)
What didn’t work for me? Burying dog poop in the holes.
One time Kinsey dug a hole so deep under my avocado tree that she could fit her whole head inside. Kinsey isn’t usually much of a digger, but this spot was making her nuts, so I tried putting dog poop in the hole. It didn’t deter her. It turned out there was a skunk under there, and Kinsey did not let a bit of poop stop her hunt. In fact, that summer Kinsey found that skunk on more than one occasion. But, that’s another story.