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Digging Up Garden and Eating Dirt

Discussion in 'Puppy Forum' started by Rachael Robins, Apr 3, 2020.

  1. Rachael Robins

    Rachael Robins New Member Registered

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    Help!
    Our 9-week old retriever girl is continually digging up the garden and eating the dirt. We tried to discourage it around the garden edges but now shes just digging at random pieces of grass.

    It seems to be upsetting her tummy and we can't make her stop.

    Any advice?

    We've tried distractions, treats, playtime, telling off. No success yet :(
     
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  3. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    When mine was a pup we lived with a ruddy great crater in the middle of the lawn for a while so I feel your pain :(

    What I would suggest is that every time she starts to dig, don't say anything (I found 'telling off' useless) but pick her up and pop her somewhere boring, maybe indoors. This might be easier if she has a lightweight trailing lead on her (with no loop to catch on anything). Leave her there for a very short time - maybe just 10 seconds - then let her out again and try to interest her in a different game. She may well start digging again right away, in which case you pop her back in 'timeout' again, leave her for another 10 seconds, and let her out. Avoid leaving her unsupervised because the more she digs, the more she'll think it's a fun activity (which, for a dog, it is!). Expect to spend ages doing this till you're heartily sick of it. Eventually, she should twig that starting to dig results in no fun at all, and choose to play the game that you're offering instead.

    Keep trying out different activities to do with her instead - if you have a paved area you could teach games like tug, making it really fun and exciting for her, or brief training sessions with good rewards. Squeaky balls are a possibility.

    Don't expect her to be perfect and drop your supervision too soon - she's only an absolute baby, after all. If possible, maybe you could fence off an area of patio, or keep her on a harness & long line so you can keep her on there when you don't want to be watching her like a hawk.

    Even when a pup knows what you want them to do, they can't always resist the urge, which is understandable. You can help develop self-control and learning to listen to you by teaching impulse control - I like this video:
     
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  4. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Oh, and I should add - 'training' and teaching impulse control will very much have to be taken at her rate, as she really is a baby. Some pups are smart and catch on very quickly, others have their silly head on the whole time. Think very much nursery school here.
     
  5. Rachael Robins

    Rachael Robins New Member Registered

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    Thanks JudyN, we'll give that a try. :)
     
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  6. excuseme

    excuseme Well-Known Member Registered

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    Every now and then, various members of our lot will decide to dig holes and eat chunks of the soil and grass. They do this in our field which is very chalky. I never stop them as their systems often tell them what they need, and I assume they are needing a mineral of some sort. We just shove the spare soil back in the hole and stamp it down when they have finished. It must be a nightmare if your puppy is doing it in the garden though!
     

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