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How to Control a Puppy Who Digs

Digging is often a puppy’s favorite pastime, especially for puppies in the Terrier and Sporting groups. Digging is a great way to alleviate boredom, is a reaction to stress, and is a cry for company, especially with the 8- to 11-month-old crowd.

All puppies go through a phase when they can’t stand being alone. They fuss, and fussy puppies dig. Unfortunately, you can’t teach your puppy not to dig. Instead, you must give her a digging place that’s all her own. Here are some suggestions:

  • Pick one area where your puppy can dig to her heart’s content, whether that spot is around your house or in a park (if you live in an apartment or a condo). You can also buy your pup a sandbox to give her digging satisfaction.

  • Bring toys and treats to hide when you begin to dig. And don’t forget the garden gloves.

  • Go to your puppy’s digging area with her each day, instructing “Go dig!”

  • Have a dig-fest. Dig with your puppy and cheer her on.

  • If you catch your puppy digging somewhere she shouldn’t be, correct her with “No!” and then, if possible, escort her to the right spot and say, “Go dig!”

Spraying your puppy with a hose or setting mousetraps is cruel. A more humane method that works is to place the puppy’s own stool (provided she doesn’t like it) in the hole with a dose of red-pepper flakes before covering it up.

Are you a gardener? Well, if you are and you let your puppy watch you garden, guess what? That’s right — monkey see, monkey do. You should place your puppy indoors when you garden. It’s just too tempting for her after seeing you dig in one area all day. Remember, only dig together at your puppy’s designated digging spot.

Most puppies dig if you leave them outside while you’re home. They love to dig while you’re watching — it’s a surefire way to get attention. Try to structure the indoor environment so that your puppy can be in the house when you’re around.

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