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  • Results 1 to 9 of 9
    1. #1
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      ryan519's Avatar
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      Digging in the backyard

      Our Remi is about 11 months old now and has begun to dig holes on our lawn in the back yard. Nothing too significant yet but I don't want to come home and find a huge hole in the yard. She has plenty of toys to play with and chew on but she eventually starts to dig. She doesn't do it when we are home and only does it after she knows everyone is gone. She has even done it when I have left the house in the morning and my wife was still home sleeping. Earlier today, I decided to review a security camera that we have covering our backyard and she decided to dig a hole about 15 minutes after I left. Surprisingly she appeared to check to see if anyone was looking prior to her digging. She would look at our back door, look down at the spot where she wanted to dig, and then looked at the back door. She did this several times and then went to town. It was actually pretty funny but I don't want our yard to look like a bomb went off.

      Could this be separation anxiety? She doesn't seem anxious but she may not be showing it I guess. We've left her with Kongs filled with goodies and also tried to sneak out once (lol) but she has still dug. On most days my wife and I work and are gone for at least 10 hours. I'm not sure what to do as I do not want to confine her in her crate or in the house. Any suggestions would be great.

      Thank you.

    2. #2
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      Labs like to dig. Mine will be running around the yard play with each other, one will just suddenly stop and start digging. 10 hours is a long time to leave a dog on their own. I'm sure he gets pretty bored, and a bored Lab, especially a Lab puppy, is usually not a good thing. Is there any way he could go to doggy day care or have a walker come in during the day? The biggest thing I'd be worried about with him outside alone is somebody stealing him.

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    4. #3
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      Digging is a super natural, fun and self-rewarding thing for dogs to do. Especially when left outside unsupervised for long periods of time. Many dogs find toys pretty boring when they are alone, I've only seen a few of the many dogs I've had thru my home (fostering) play with toys alone.

      I wouldn't leap to thoughts of Seperation Anxiety.

      The best solutions for digging are:
      1 - supervise. You can't train if you are not there, and if the dog is able to continue it becomes a habit. so leave the dog inside in a safe room when you are not there. When the dog goes to dig, interrupt and redirect to another activity. But yes many dogs just learn not to dig if you are there and just wait for your to leave.
      2 - provide a space where they CAN dig. Either a designated are in the yard or a sand box (generally best if you can fill with the same kind of dirt they like to dig in in the yard). You need to supervise for the first while (weeks maybe months) and similarly to the above, when the dog dig elsewhere, interrupt and bring them to the digging area and encourage digging. You can even bury toys for htem to find to encourage the use of this spot.

      At 11 months their exercise needs may also have increased. Not sure how much daily physical and just as importantly MENTAL exercise the dog gets daily but he may need more mental stimluation and offleash free play.

      For mental exercise, consider feeding all meals in interactive toys, training, games (hide and seek, etc.), kongs, kong wobbler... etc VS from a bowl (or as much as possible). Do more training sessions daily. they can be short (even 5 minutes) but a few a day. Portion out part of their meal for training. Take classes. You can leave him outside iwth some interactive toys (frozen stuffed kong) but those won't keep her busy for more than 10-20 minutes at most (probaly less).

      ETA: agree a dog walker or doggy daycare could be good options. Dog walker can break up the day for the pup.
      Rocky and Penny (Feb 10 2013 - July 23 2016)
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    6. #4
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      Just going on a whim here too. Your in California, where it is pretty warm. One of the other reasons they dig is to get to the cool earth to lay in. Sometimes digging a hole is just digging a hole. Sometimes it is looking for a cool spot to lay down and take a nap. The behavior your describing from on the camera is more like, ok they care gone, are they really gone, ok well I am bored so will just find a nice cool spot to sleep for a while. So I would be more curious is she laying in the fresh dirt or hole after digging.

      Labs are very smart and well they also love comfort and cool. Labs might have a super comfy bed but will usually choose to go lay on the concrete floor. Mine actually knows when he is outside and hears the air conditioner kick on, he wants inside and will go lay down on the cool tile floor in the kitchen right in front of the air conditioning vent. My sisters lays in front of the basement steps door, there is a slight gap under the door and the cool air comes up from there. Labs very much prefer the cold.

      I have seen many labs do this, so just throwing it out there as one possibility.

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    8. #5
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      Quote Originally Posted by Jeff View Post
      Just going on a whim here too. Your in California, where it is pretty warm. One of the other reasons they dig is to get to the cool earth to lay in. Sometimes digging a hole is just digging a hole. Sometimes it is looking for a cool spot to lay down and take a nap. The behavior your describing from on the camera is more like, ok they care gone, are they really gone, ok well I am bored so will just find a nice cool spot to sleep for a while. So I would be more curious is she laying in the fresh dirt or hole after digging.

      Labs are very smart and well they also love comfort and cool. Labs might have a super comfy bed but will usually choose to go lay on the concrete floor. Mine actually knows when he is outside and hears the air conditioner kick on, he wants inside and will go lay down on the cool tile floor in the kitchen right in front of the air conditioning vent. My sisters lays in front of the basement steps door, there is a slight gap under the door and the cool air comes up from there. Labs very much prefer the cold.

      I have seen many labs do this, so just throwing it out there as one possibility.
      Oh!
      yes Rocky is a digger (still) but often it IS about making a cool spot. In the summer at my parent's place he will sneak into the cedar hedges and dig there :P

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    10. #6
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      Puppies and young dogs must be supervised. It is our job to show them how we want them to behave. If we are not there, they will find their own things to do; typically dog things that we humans don't appreciate but that come natural to the dog. In addition to digging and other types of destruction, outdoor dogs can develop other habits such as fence fighting or running and digging under or jumping over fences (my neighbor's Lab jumps a 6 foot privacy fence and goes looking for chickens to kill and bring home to eat). Then there are the dangers of leaving dogs outside unsupervised such as eating poisonous plants, eating items that could cause a blockage, being attacked by another animal and being stolen. You also have issues such as gates blowing open and dogs escaping.

      The digging is natural and digging like your dog is doing is typically from boredom or anxiety. Unfortunately, the longer you allow it to happen, the harder it will be for her to stop. Think of it like flipping through your social media accounts feed on your phone, chewing your nails or eating crunchy snacks when you are feeling bored or anxious. The behavior must be replaced. So, if you want her to chew on something or eat a Kong instead, put her in her crate inside and give her that one option. In addition, add training to your day, even just three 10 minute sessions while you are making meals or during commercial breaks. Labs are sporting dogs and need a job. And, exercise. Leash walks are fine but off leash or long-line walking and sniffing types of walks are better. You can also play ball, but some dogs get amped up by that, so make sure you're doings some decompression types of things (the sniffing walks that I mentioned previously).

      I typically crate my dogs until they are a year old (give or take, depending on the dog) and hire a dog-walker mid-day. My younger dog was pretty mature early on and he was crated half a day starting at nine months and then uncrated a full day just a couple months later. The dog walker comes daily until the dog is 12 - 18 months and then I put them on-call for longer work days. If you have a neighbor or close-by friend or family member you can pay a few bucks to to let her outside that could work too.

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    12. #7
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      Quote Originally Posted by Labradorks View Post
      Puppies and young dogs must be supervised. It is our job to show them how we want them to behave. If we are not there, they will find their own things to do; typically dog things that we humans don't appreciate but that come natural to the dog. In addition to digging and other types of destruction, outdoor dogs can develop other habits such as fence fighting or running and digging under or jumping over fences (my neighbor's Lab jumps a 6 foot privacy fence and goes looking for chickens to kill and bring home to eat). Then there are the dangers of leaving dogs outside unsupervised such as eating poisonous plants, eating items that could cause a blockage, being attacked by another animal and being stolen. You also have issues such as gates blowing open and dogs escaping.

      The digging is natural and digging like your dog is doing is typically from boredom or anxiety. Unfortunately, the longer you allow it to happen, the harder it will be for her to stop. Think of it like flipping through your social media accounts feed on your phone, chewing your nails or eating crunchy snacks when you are feeling bored or anxious. The behavior must be replaced. So, if you want her to chew on something or eat a Kong instead, put her in her crate inside and give her that one option. In addition, add training to your day, even just three 10 minute sessions while you are making meals or during commercial breaks. Labs are sporting dogs and need a job. And, exercise. Leash walks are fine but off leash or long-line walking and sniffing types of walks are better. You can also play ball, but some dogs get amped up by that, so make sure you're doings some decompression types of things (the sniffing walks that I mentioned previously).

      I typically crate my dogs until they are a year old (give or take, depending on the dog) and hire a dog-walker mid-day. My younger dog was pretty mature early on and he was crated half a day starting at nine months and then uncrated a full day just a couple months later. The dog walker comes daily until the dog is 12 - 18 months and then I put them on-call for longer work days. If you have a neighbor or close-by friend or family member you can pay a few bucks to to let her outside that could work too.
      Thank you for this wonderful insight and response. And thank you to everyone else who responded. This helps me tremendously!

      Now when you talk about training, what kind of training do you suggest? I've already done the basics: sit, stay, down, and she will also retrieve without issues. I don't always play with her before we leave to go somewhere but do you recommend we do that before putting her in the crate? We've been putting her in her crate when we've needed to leave for a few hours just to make sure she doesn't get in to trouble or injured like you've suggested. I didn't think about having someone come over to take her on a walk when we are gone. I have a few neighbors who could most likely help with that.

    13. #8
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      Quote Originally Posted by ryan519 View Post
      Thank you for this wonderful insight and response. And thank you to everyone else who responded. This helps me tremendously!

      Now when you talk about training, what kind of training do you suggest? I've already done the basics: sit, stay, down, and she will also retrieve without issues. I don't always play with her before we leave to go somewhere but do you recommend we do that before putting her in the crate? We've been putting her in her crate when we've needed to leave for a few hours just to make sure she doesn't get in to trouble or injured like you've suggested. I didn't think about having someone come over to take her on a walk when we are gone. I have a few neighbors who could most likely help with that.
      You could teach tricks if you wanted to. Backing up, spinning, playing dead, shake, closing drawers or cupboards, getting her own leash, jump on command, helping with laundry, limping, going around a cone...the list is really endless. Food puzzles are helpful for working their brains too (I personally like the snuffle mat for my guys!). I wouldn't worry about when you train or exercise, as long as you're doing it! Of course, if you use salty treats or she gets worked up and needs a lot of water, it's not a good time to put her in a crate for several hours.

    14. #9
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      They just really can't be left outside unsupervised for much time at all. Inside, in a crate, however you want to do it. If you want to confine the dog outside while you're gone, get the type of kennel they sell at home depot and put it on a concrete pad (in the shade). They aren't playing or doing anything while you are gone, so putting them in the yard is only facilitating outdoor pottying. It doesn't provide any other benefit, other than digging up the yard due to being bored.
      Jen
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