Stopping Dogs from Digging

As with most dog problems the best way to stop your dog from digging is to determine why they are doing it in the first place. Next to chewing, digging can be one of the most destructive behaviours a dog can participate in which will soon turn your once beautiful backyard into a muddy holed filled mess.   

Understanding Digging

Tan and white BeaglierDogs can dig for any number of reasons with the most popular being that most dogs simply love digging. Other dogs may be trying to get your attention, or they may be bored from a lack of physical and mental stimulation. Dogs can also find the smell of freshly turned or fertilized earth irresistible, and many won’t be able to help themselves. Other reasons may be that they are trying to cool themselves down by digging a hole to lie in, or they may be digging themselves a den. Dogs originally bred for hunting, such as Beagles and Terriers, can also have an instinctual need to dig to flush out their imagined prey. Some Beagliers love to dig if they are allowed to as a natural carryover of their Beagle heritage but to a lesser extent that Beagles.

Changing your dog’s behaviour

Any behavioural changes required in a dog have one thing in common and that is consistency. Dogs need to have it made very clear to them what is and what is not acceptable behaviour. With that said here are a few proven techniques which may help you solve your dog’s problem digging behaviour.

balloonsSome dogs will dig to store a bone. If this is the case, then just stop giving him bones. Try a chew toy instead such as a rawhide bone, or pig’s ear. Most dogs are quite particular about where they dig holes and will dig in the same areas almost every time. If this is your dog, try blowing up a few balloons and burying them in areas he likes to dig. Once he’s confronted with the loud pop of a balloon exploding he may develop a negative association with the digging and stop.

Some people have had success with hosing but this method needs close supervision as you have to catch him in the act. When you notice your dog starting to dig spray him with water from the hose. The psychology is similar to the balloon method as your dog is learning a negative association with his digging behaviour.

Another popular method to make digging unpleasant for dogs is to bury chicken wire underneath the areas he likes to dig. Dogs find the scraping on their claws rather unpleasant and will learn to associate digging with this unpleasant sensation. A variation on this method is to scatter freshly cut rose trimmings around the area.

Letting dogs dig in a sandpit

Black Puggle PuppyDigging is an instinctual behaviour in dogs so if you don’t want to deny your dog the pleasure you could try building him his very own sandpit where he can dig till his heart’s content. A sandbox in a well shaded area should do the trick. Puggles love to use a sand pit if they are given the opportunity and provide hours of entertainment. To encourage him to use his sandbox bury a couple of his favourite toys while he watches and then encourage him to dig them up. After a little time and some positive reinforcement, he will learn that he can dig in this area and stay out of trouble.

What is a Pet Loo?

What is a Pet Loo?

pet-looFor those of us who enjoy our dog’s company both outside and inside the ritual letting out of the dog every morning can be a real pain – especially when it’s early and it’s your day off. Enter The Pet Loo. The Pet Loo is an ingenious solution which effectively eliminates all your dog’s toilet problems and gives you back the privilege of sleeping in on a Sunday morning, without the stress of a messy clean up as payment for the extra shuteye.

With a little training The Pet Loo consolidates your Cavoodle’s waste into one area that is easy to clean up, making apartment and house dogs a lot easier to live with. Training your dog to use the Pet Loo is just like any other toilet training of your pet. We have a helpful article called ‘How to toilet train your puppy’ on this website.

pet-loo-how-it-worksThe Pet Loo also makes it possible to take your dog to the office should you need to at a moment’s notice. Not only is the Pet Loo convenient, the latest design also makes it a breeze to clean up, with a unique draining system to contain the smell and allow easy no-splash disposal into the toilet.

Plenty of thought has gone into the design of The Pet Loo, from the type of material, the easy clean synthetic grass, to the slope of the tray to ensure maximum drainage. Clean up has received a lot of focus in the design of The Pet Loo to ensure it is as convenient as possible. Urine flows freely through the grass mat, onto a grid tray, and from there into a container. This means the synthetic grass is elevated up and away from the urine at all times, and owners can simply flush excess urine away by pouring warm water over the grass.

A specially sourced material creates a product that is resistant to the acidity of urine, thereby ensuring a long life and value for money. The synthetic grass mat is also easily removed as it does need a weekly spray down with a mid-pressured hose, or even in the shower, until the water starts to run clear and allow to air dry before replacing the grass onto the tray, and you will ensure a clean fresh environment for your pet to their business.

Pet loo 3 sizesIt’s strong too, as it’s been rated to hold up to 300kg so you will have no problem with the bigger pets. There are various sizes to suit different sized pets, with the smaller models obviously coming in at a cheaper price.

How to teach your dog to shake hands

Teaching your dog to shake hands

Although shaking is a fun party trick, it is also very useful for when your dog needs to have his nails trimmed, or has something stuck in his paw.  A dog that is comfortable with shaking will also be more comfortable allowing you, a veterinarian, or a groomer handle his feet, which is important for the health and safety of your pet. On top of this, a dog that can shake hands is always a hit with the kids!

Groodle Shake hands

Steps to teach your puppy to shake hands

To begin, ask your dog to sit.  Show your Groodle a treat, place it in your hand, and make a closed fist.  Place your fist low to the ground, a few inches in front of the paw you would like your dog to shake with.  Most dogs will paw at the hand to try and access the treat.  When your dog does this, immediately reward him.  After following this same routine a few times, begin to incorporate the “shake” or “paw” command. 

A slightly different way to teach to shake

A second way to teach a dog to shake also begins with asking your dog to first sit.  Then, hold a treat above his nose, and move the treat backwards, above his head and towards his tail.  Your dog’s weight will shift to his back legs, and he will begin to lift one or both paws.  Catch one of his paws and reward your dog as soon as his paw touches your hand.  Eventually, add in the verbal command.  This can be used to teach a separate trick of “high five”.

For extremely stubborn dogs, an effective, but more time-consuming method, is to first ask your dog to sit and then physically lift his paw while saying shake, and issuing a treat.  While it may take your dog a few days, or even weeks, to catch on, he will eventually learn that the act of placing his paw in your hand earns a tasty treat. 

Shake with the opposite paw

To teach your dog to shake with the opposite paw, simply repeat the method that worked best for your dog, but use a different command, such as “left.”  When teaching your dog to shake, there is no “wrong” method, but as with all other obedience lessons, be sure to have patience and issue plenty of positive reinforcement. 

Once your dog can reliably shake hands or give a high five, kids will be drawn to the dog. Most kids don’t want to miss out on a high five from a dog. Also if you have kids yourself, they will love to show off the dog’s cool new trick to friends and relatives, increasing the strength of the bond between the dog and your children. The more commands your dog receives from your kids, the stronger the association it has between following commands from the kids and getting a reward. This further cements the dog as lower in the pack than the kids in the dog’s mind.

How to teach your dog to Heel

Teaching your dog how to heel

Have you ever had someone comment, “Who’s walking who?” while out for a walk with your pup?  If so, you likely should teach your dog to heel, which means to walk by your side on a loose leash.  Not only does a proper heel save your shoulder from the strain of a pulling dog, but also ensures proper control during potentially dangerous situations, such as when walking through traffic.  Heeling is intended for short durations, and not for long walks.  For a proper heel, your dog should also sit when you stop walking.

Spoodle Heel

Steps to teach your dog to heel

To begin, find a quiet, distraction free area and place your dog on leash.  With your dog on your left side, lure him to sit (avoid asking for the sit).  With the leash in your right hand and a treat in your left hand, take a step forward, using the treat to lure your dog into the proper position by your side.  Move the treat forward or backwards to ensure he remains directly next to you.  Move only a few steps forward before stopping and rewarding your Spoodle for correct positioning. 

If your dog struggles with getting ahead of you or falling behind, try holding the treat next to your shoulder, so that your dog’s upward gaze will keep his body aligned with yours.  Once you find the technique that works best for you, enthusiastically reward him every time he is in proper position. 

If your dog strays from your side, tell him “no” and start over.  Practice this skill until your dog can reliably walk 5 – 7 steps in the proper heeling position before adding the verbal command of “heel” as you walk.  Only when your dog has mastered controllably walking by your side should you begin to have him sit the moment you stop walking.  Simply use a hand gesture, or, if having difficulty, verbally ask for a sit in addition to the lure. 

What to avoid doing when teaching your puppy to heel

There are a number of things to avoid when working on heel.  First, be careful to hold the treat high enough so that it is a guide for your dog.  Otherwise, he is likely to try and jump and grab at it with his mouth when he should be nicely walking.  Second, do not use the leash to pull your dog into the proper position.  It is very important that your dog perform the heel on a loose leash, or else he will come to rely on the restraint. 

Be sure to be vocal throughout the walking portion of the heel by giving your dog constant positive feedback for good positioning (i.e. good boy, good heel, etc), as well as negative feedback (i.e. “no” or “uh-uh”) if your dog is not in the proper position.   Finally, avoid only practicing with your dog on leash.  Working on heel off leash in the house, and also in the backyard, will drastically improve his ability to walk nicely next to you on command during your next walk. 


Teach your dog to come to you

How to teach your dog to come when called

One of the most important lessons a dog can learn is to come when called.  A reliable recall can literally mean the difference between life and death, such as in a situation when a dog gets loose and runs towards a busy street.  Recall is easy to teach, but must be amply rewarded with a lot of positive reinforcement in order for the lesson to stick with the dog. 

Standing Pugalier
Image courtesy of Chevromist Kennels

Steps to teach the “recall” command

To begin, first ensure that your dog knows his name and that you can easily get his attention.  If not, practice by using a treat to lure your dog’s gaze towards your face while saying his name.  Once your dog learns to look to you, you can begin to teach him the “come” command. 

Start with your Pugalier a short distance away from you, either on a leash or in an enclosed area.  It may be helpful to enlist the help of another person to hold your dog’s leash for you while you work on this command.  Wait until your dog is not paying attention to you, and then call his name.  When your dog looks to you, begin running backwards while excitedly saying “come” or “here.”  Your dog will think you are playing a game, which will make learning recall fun.  As soon as your dog runs to you, immediately reward him with lots of treats and praise.  Gradually increase the distance between you and your dog as he becomes better at this skill. 

Always reward your dog as though his obedience is the best thing that has ever happened.  This action will reinforce that coming when called is fun and exciting, better than anything he may be unsafely running towards. 

Patience is needed with this command

A reliable recall may take longer to teach than other commands, so patience is important.  Never continually yell “come” or “here” if your dog is not paying attention.  Doing so can teach him that it is okay to ignore you.  When practicing recall in extremely distracting environments (such as when rabbits, possums, or other dogs are near), use especially high-value treats such as pieces of meat or cheese.  To avoid the hassle of trying to get your dog’s attention by calling his name in distracted environments, first offer the treat, then yell the command as he is running toward you.  He will still learn word association in this manner. 

A good rule of thumb is to limit the use of the command for instances when the dog’s fun has to stop.  For instance, to get your dog to come in from the yard, avoid using “come” and try “go inside” instead.  Doing so can ensure that your dog will only associate “come” with treats and praise.  As with all important obedience commands, continuing practicing recall long after your dog has mastered the skill to ensure it remains reinforced throughout this lifetime. 

Teaching your dog to stay

How to teach your dog to “stay”

After your dog has mastered sit and lie down, he can begin to learn stay.  Just as with “come,” “stay” is a command that can help keep your dog safe, and is especially important for people without fenced in yards, or apartment dwellers that need to make sure their pup doesn’t run outside every time the door is opened.

Beaglier Stay 

Steps to follow

To begin, first put your dog in a “sit” or “down” position.  Say “stay” and hold your hand up as you take two or three steps backward.  Then, put your hand down and say “free” and encourage your dog to come to you.  As soon as your dog leaves the sitting or down position, issue a reward and positive reinforcement.  If your dog moves before you tell him he is “free,” say “no” and start the process over.  In the beginning you may find it necessary to shorten the amount of time you are asking him to stay, as some dogs have shorter attention spans than others.  Over time you will be able to lengthen the duration of the command, but remember to always release him by saying “free” (or something similar like “ok”) or else your dog may become confused and think he can break the stay without being told to do so.  Once your dog can stay for 10 – 15 seconds, begin practicing the command with a greater distance between you and your dog. 

Some things to keep in mind

Stay can be a difficult command for dogs to learn, because they naturally want to be near their owners (and, after all, you have probably already taught him the benefits of coming when called!)  If your Beaglier continues to break the command, calmly tell him “no” each time.  Feedback is important, and will help your dog learn that moving without being told do so is inappropriate.  Also avoid placing a treat in the hand being used to signal “stay.”  Seeing the treat will further entice the dog to run towards you.  As with all important commands, practice and positive reinforcement is crucial.  Treat your dog as if he just found a million bucks the first time he nails “stay,” and you will find that subsequent practice sessions will be easier. 

Also, keep in mind that the younger the puppy, the more time you may need to spend in teaching her a new command. Younger puppies also have shorter attention spans so keep the training sessions shorter than you think they can handle.

Teach your dog to lie down

How to teach your dog to lie down

Once a dog has mastered sit, he can begin learning how to lie down on command.  Not only is lying down a neat trick that makes your dog look well behaved, but it can also be useful for calming excited dogs or as an antidote to jumping. 

Red Groodle puppy laying down

Steps to teach your dog to lie down

There are a number of methods for teaching your dog this trick, and you should practice each to determine which works best for your pup.  As with “sit,” you will begin by first teaching your dog the motion, and then adding the verbal command.  First ask your Groodle to sit, and then place a treated hand in front of your dog’s nose.  Slowly move your hand both backwards (towards your body), and down towards the floor, drawing your dog’s nose to the ground.  For most dogs, their bodies will follow their nose, and by the time your hand reaches the floor he will be lying down.  Say “yes!” and administer a treat the moment he reaches the correct position. 

Other ways to teach “lie down”

If your dog is tempted to walk towards the treat instead of lie down, a second option is to again start with a treated hand in front of the dog’s nose, but instead of moving your hand backwards, move your hand both toward the dog and down, ending near his front feet.  His nose will follow the treat, and lack of space will force him to assume a lying down position. 

Two alternative ways, should the first two methods not work, are to start with the lure at the dog’s nose, and slowly draw your hand close to the dog’s body, finishing down at his tail.  This manner forces the dog to reposition himself to get the treat, and typically the most natural position is lying down.  A final way is to get your dog’s attention and quickly “snap” the treat onto the ground, causing your dog to follow suit for the treat.  Find the method (or variation) which works best for your dog and repeat this action until he reliably lies down with the lure. 

How to use the command

Once your dog is ready, incorporate the use of a verbal command.  While it is tempting to say “lie down,” dogs do best with one syllable commands, such as “down.”  Just as with “sit,” issue the “down” command and then lure your dog into the proper position.  Immediately reward your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement the moment he lies down.  After this command has been mastered from the sitting position, begin to ask for the down when your dog is standing.

Never become frustrated with your dog if teaching the down command is difficult.  If you find yourself becoming upset, take a break from training and come back to it with a clear head.  Do not force your dog into the proper position, as he will not learn the command in this way.  As always, timing the reward is a crucial component.  Do not reward too soon, before the dog is in the fully lying down position, or too late. 

If you simply cannot find a reliable luring method, a more time-consuming technique is to enthusiastically say “down” and reward your dog every time you see him lying down.  Although a slow process, your dog will eventually learn the association between the word, action, and reward.