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44–47 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

How to Prevent Injuries in Your Growing Puppy :: Four Ways to Stop Your Puppy from Digging :: Five Tips for Controlling Your Puppy's Shedding :: How to Determine Your Puppy's I.Q.

Four Ways to Stop Your Puppy from Digging

Have you recently strolled out into your yard only to find yourself dodging small holes and falling into big ones? Some puppies this age are big diggers who leave craters in your lawn. Other puppies are small diggers who pockmark the grass with dainty holes.

Digging occurs when puppies are bored, stressed or lonely. They also dig to get cooler on a hot day or to get warmer on a cold day. They dig to get to something or to hide something. And puppies dig just because it's in their makeup to bury things and to to create a den, or a safe place to watch for predators.

The signs of a digger are pretty obvious: those craters or those dainty holes loom out of the earth. But you can also look for signs of a dog who is likely to dig when your back is turned. A digger is very interested in smells in the yard. He also shows a great interest in anything moving, such as bugs, and will heave a hefty paw on top of them then often start pawing the ground as if to bury them. If you're going inside and leaving your puppy in the yard, note his demeanor. If he's relaxed and sitting in the shade, he may stay that way. But if he's restless and roaming around, digging may be around the corner.

Stopping Your Puppy from Digging

  1. Leave Nothing to Bury - Not only should you pick up any toys outside, you should also pick up any sticks or debris on the ground. This is to stop the diggers - if your pup does not dig, it's not necessary. You might also consider spraying for bugs so your pup is not tempted by them.

  2. Don't Leave Your Puppy Outside - If you've got a real digger on hand, you may not be able to leave him outside alone. With a digger, you should certainly limit time outside to about fifteen minutes.

  3. Offer Hydration - Whether it is hot or cold outside, leave plenty of water for your pup. Consider getting the large ice cube product available for dogs so he has something to cool him and to keep his interest.

  4. Keep His Interest - In addition to the ice cube, you can leave things to keep your puppy's interest but that he won't want to bury. Very large toys such as a ball about 65 cm. wide, can be a plaything but unlikely to stimulate the burying drive. Also, small pieces of treats or vegetables such as baby carrots or celery will divert him and go too quickly to encourage digging.

You can train dogs not to dig but nipping it in the bud is the quickest way to handle it. If you have time and want to work on behavior modification, go inside but watch your puppy carefully. As soon as he starts to dig, run out with a loud noise such as a horn or a can full of coins and shout "Stop!" Reward your pup as soon as he stops. This will have to be repeated often and is best used with the preventative measures.

Some dogs may respond to a canopied bed outside if their motivation is to create a den. Or, you can close off the deck if you have one. Whatever his motivation, your puppy is just following his instincts and it's up to you to help him overcome his quest to dig to China.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

Pay Attention to Your Dog's Behavior

The best advice we ever received was "It is always your fault." If our dog peed in the house or chewed up something that it shouldn't have, the trainer said it was our fault for not paying attention.

Your puppy is like your child; you never leave it and walk away. That is how bad things happen. If the dog peed in the house and you were watching her, immediately take her outside. The dog usually understands that what it did was wrong. However, if you scold a puppy for peeing inside or chewing on your shoe in another room while you were watching TV or not paying attention, then essentially it is your fault, not the dog's.

~Allison B, owner of a German Shepherd

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