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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi everyone,

Oreo is a ~16-week female former "rez-dog" we adopted a month ago (see my profile/album). She's been doing well physically (+2lbs per week and fit) and emotionally (cheerful/playful, loves her crate, the house, and the yard). There are lots of learning for her but so far so good :)

Around the same time that we adopted her, our next door neighbor also got a lab puppy. while we let Oreo play freely in our yard whenever someone is home, they mostly keep their puppy indoors. As such the two puppies have not officially met.

Between our yards is a 6ft wood fence; on our side there is also a garden walled off with 2-ft soft mesh -- mostly a "reminder" for Oreo not to wander into; we know Oreo could jump over it if she really wants, but hopefully with training she'll not do it (often). And she had not hopped into the garden during the week the mesh was up.

Anyway, everything changed this past weekend when the neighbor's puppy was released into their yard. Oreo would not be able to see her due to the fence, but she could hear and smell, I suppose, and she was determined to join her! She hopped into the garden and immediately started digging below the fence! I arrived no more than 2 minutes later and she already was able to push her nozzle over. I took her out of the garden and she immediately hopped back the moment I let her down. I had to put her on leash and distract her with treats/toys (and the neighbor took their puppy indoors for a while) to calm her down for the time being.

[Oreo does get super excited from time to time, and when she does, physical restraining (usually by picking her up, or holding on the leash if she's on leash) seems the only way to get her out of it -- commands and treats are completely ignored... This is also something I am looking for a soluition for.]

But just a while later, when the other puppy was again in the yard, Oreo hopped into the garden again and started digging again ... I had to take her indoors for the rest of the day.

I put a row of logs along the fence and filled the hole she dug. The next day we let her out and she seemed fine, until later of the day -- while I was not watching she quietly got back to the fence and started digging. This time the other puppy was not out at all. I caught her probably only a couple of minutes before she would have finished a working tunnel under the logs :redface:

She showed digging interest early on, but was never that determined. And it is a problem now because I would either have to constantly keep an eye on her while in my own fenced backyard, which would have to greatly reduce the amount of time she could be out; or to increase the border security (not sure how -- burying 2x8s along the base of fence?). Neither is a preferred solution.

So I am wondering if there is some training that could persuade she not to dig? Like mixing something into the soil to make digging unpleasant?

Thanks ...
 

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"constantly keep an eye on her" -- IMO, this is your best bet. It might not be 'preferred' (by you) at this point, but it's the only real way to prevent her from practicing a self-reinforcing behavior. Something 'unpleasant' mixed into the soil? Yeah, this sort of 'training' relies on positive punishment (or perhaps negative reinforcement). Both of these will fall apart if you don't **positively reinforce/train** an alternative behavior. At this point, I don't think you have an alternative to constant supervision (NOT watching her is NOT an option... a "couple of minutes" is all it takes...) while she is in the yard, redirecting her & rewarding/reinforcing NOT digging at the fence. This is what proper raising of puppies is all about.
 

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Some people will give their dog a specific digging area where they are allowed to dig, but only there. I personally haven't tried it, but it might be something to consider.

We had trouble with Pepper digging under the fence to get to the neighbour's dog. It wasn't frantic digging though, more looking through the hole that was already there and trying to see underneath, which resulted in the hole getting bigger. We ended up putting chicken wire down and covering it with brick blocks. This seemed to work.

The other times Pepper digs is when running around and getting completely over-excited. She will suddenly stop and start frantically digging a hole (always in the same spot where she knows one is already started). Honestly there isn't much that helps with this. If I put anything down over the hole she just digs beside. The solution we came up with is to not allow her to run around like mad. We started letting our dogs out one at a time instead of together and it's pretty much eliminated the running around and digging. It's also saved my lawn from being completely torn up.

I found even when I was watching the dogs, Pepper was just too fast for me to be able to stop her before she started digging. So best advice I guess is to restrict her access to the area. Put a barrier of some kind up before she can get to the area where she wants to dig. Or cover the area completely like we did with chicken wire/bricks (it's not pretty though).

Oreo is so cute btw!
 

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I put down rabbit wire bent in half. Vertical half stapled to fence then along the ground. Area has pebbles so put some on top of wire. Dog went over not under. Doh. It seems to be very durable. I cut some off and made a trellis for a vine this year and although it is 17 years old no rust and only a couple broken joins.
 

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i would focus more on boundary training then digging in your situation. i she doesn't disrespect the boundary then she would not be digging at the fence line.. i would work on digging if she was that type of dog that just liked digging holes to dig them....
 

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I think keeping an eye on her constantly until you figure it out is the number one priority. The more she does it and figures out she likes it and it works, the harder it will be to get her to stop.

I was afraid Quill would be a digger because his mom was awful for it. He was a puppy during the winter, so he didn't stay outside on his own ever, but he did develop an obsession with digging in our bed. Not to "nest". Just for fun. So we taught him to dig on command and to stop on command. It worked really well for us -- the few times he's tried pawing at the backyard, we tell him to stop and he does, and when we are at the lake, we encouraged digging with the command and now he understands that sand is acceptable to dig in and grass is not. We've never had an issue since then!

Might be something to try!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everyone. I bought a pile of bricks and will be burying them under the fence. Hope that would help ...

I share (resigned) feeling that an off-leash puppy is too fast to be stopped from doing the wrong thing even when I AM watching... At times it is very difficult to execute the instant reward/correction. But I don't like the idea of keeping her on leash all the time (even at home).

Trained digging is an interesting idea. In this case though the digging had a purpose (to go to neighbor's yard), so I am afraid she won't heed the command anyway. She does also dig elsewhere, so my lawn is taking a toll, but not serious enough to concern me yet. But I'll try to see if I could train her to dig/stop on command.

My intention of erecting a 2 feet soft "fence" was also to train her to respect the boundary, not to fence her out physically. It turns out she could jump over the fence even easier than I thought ... and she still does.

I have been following the "praise-only" approach and just called her out when I saw her in (except when she was digging like crazy). I suppose she knows I don't want her to go inside. But she still gets in anyway when my eyes are not on her -- not to dig all the time; sometimes she would jump in and simply stand there looking out. The thing is, if she sees me, she would quickly jump out, sometimes coming to me (maybe getting down at my feet as if she knows she did something wrong), sometimes going to other parts of the yard as if nothing happened.

So what do I do if she knows she shouldn't but still does it? Is she entertaining herself, enjoying the thrill of it, like kids do?
 

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i dont know how good you get along with your neighbor but i had a friend that moved into their new house with a 17week old puppy and the neighbor had a 15week old puppy and both of them were digging to get to each other so they introduced the pups and they became best buddies so they installed a doggie door in the fence lockable from both sides. It worked for them and the dogs had a lifelong friend and two families to lookout for them
 

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I would also restrict the garden (you probably don't want her in there anyway, right?) by setting up a higher fence with a gate or something. We have the same issue with our dogs getting in the vegetable garden. We put up steel welded fencing 3 feet high (still have to put up a gate, but you can find instructions online on how to do it).

Otherwise, yeah... dig under the fence and put bricks there.
 

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You say you don't want your dog on a leash all the time. What about a tie-out? My dog is fear aggressive toward humans and I only have a 3'8" fence. I have him on a tie-out 90% of the time he is outside. He has no problems moving around the yard. Only a few times has he gotten himself tangled around a bush or tree. Maybe a tie-out until you can train.
 

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training is being consistent in what your doing for them to be always learning what you want them to learn. My LGD pup has been on restriction, tether, kennel, leashed at my side for 9 months when it comes to being inside the barn and fenced area where the smaller livestock birds /fowl/dwarf goats are.. For the first time letting him loose he did great. to find a place after some investigation of the building to he found a place to lay down while I did my chores around the livestock. And he will still be in training for the next 2 years...

People tell me this would be too much work for too long to do it.. ???? Why not do it from the start, stick with it while they are maturing so you never have to do it again for the rest of their lives of 10 to 13 years... and the small skills that they learn in one area.. automatically apply to new situations they will encounter all during their life time. What is the first 3 years of your pups life to learn correctly with your hands on help in supporting them.
 

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While you are training, you might bury chicken wire fencing, shallowly flat on the ground, from the fence about 2 - 3 feet out in the yard. Most dogs don't like to try to dig through chicken wire, and that may be an adequate temporary deterrent, while you train. I also like the idea of a 'doggie door' between the two yards.
 
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