How do I get my 3 month old Rottweiler puppy to stop digging up my flower beds?
Heather from South Africa
This young age is the perfect time to start teaching your puppy that you're the "leader of the pack" and as such, you have certain expectations regarding the behavior of pack members. Rule #1: digging is only done in designated areas! For these first few months, you're going to have to supervise your puppy while out in the yard. Use his/her digging as an opportunity to modify behavior. I'm a huge fan of Cesar Millan-a.k.a The Dog Whisperer. He uses what he describes as calm, assertive energy to direct a dog's mind and body away from undesirable behaviors. It's all about energy. Control the mind and body and you control the behavior. Cesar maintains that in the wild, dogs need rules, boundaries and limitations in order to survive as a stable and organized pack. Every dog knows its position within the pack and what is expected of him. This pack mentality is one of the strongest natural motivators in dogs and is an effective training tool for humans.
In the wild, members of the pack learn early on that there are undesirable consequences for certain behaviors. These consequences usually come (swiftly) in the form of a bite from pack leaders. Since you are your puppy's pack leader, when your puppy starts digging, you can mimic this "bite" by turning your hand into a "teeth-like" claw and firmly touching the side of your puppy's neck while directing him away from your flowerbeds. You can use your voice to emphasize your point, but asserting yourself with a firm, physical touch is more important. Consistency is key, but this form of dog psychology really works. Don't punish him/her, just assert your authority. If you have the room, set aside a sandy spot in the corner of the yard just for puppy play and direct him/her to this area. Other physical deterrents include laying down wire mesh or plastic soda bottles filled with water or inserting wire coat hangers into the soil to create a physical barrier. Whatever you do, don't use any chemical deterrents-especially those formulated to keep out wildlife. They seldom work and they can be harmful to young animals if ingested. Some gardeners have also had luck temporarily "poopy trapping" the area with the dog's own feces. For more information on Cesar Millan and his Dog Psychology Center, visit www.dogpsychologycenter.com
Sprinkle red pepper around the area and in the flower beds won't hurt them, but all critters will stay away from it after getting into it once.
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