Can You Dig It!!
A friend of mine just agreed to dog sit for a year, while the dog's owner is over seas. He said the dog is very well trained, but they have one problem, the dog loves to dig. He wanted some pointers, to stop this digging. I said "Well let's blog about it. "First off let's talk about the breed of this dog. As I have only viewed one photo of the dog, I am just guessing here, but I am fairly confident that it is a Siberian Husky, or a strong mix there of.
Why is the breed of the dog, important in training, you may ask. Let's look at an example of breed traits. You can't say that all Border Collies nip at the heels of moving objects. However, because they have been bred for years to herd livestock, the breed trait of herding (and sometimes nipping heels) can be stronger in some Border Collies and less in others. Guinness is 1/2 Border Collie 1/2 Smooth Coat Collie. Even though she looks straight BC, has lots of drive, intelligence, and energy, she does not nip. Her love for fetch, and her misguided will to fetch until she drops, is part of the BC breed. If you could only see her give the "eye" (another part of her BC charm) to one of the other dogs, they crumble like a house of cards.
What about the Siberian Husky? The Siberian Husky originates from the Siberian Arctic. Their genetic back round comes from the Spitz group. This puts them genetically in a group of Ancient Dog Breeds. There are 14 breeds in this group, and they genetically show the least amount of change from the wolf.
In my opinion, some of the Northern Breeds of dog, retain some of the breed traits of the wolf. I find they have a heighten sense of Prey Instinct, they dig, they have boundless energy that needs to be burned, and they have excellent dog to dog relations. They can be aloof, independent, and highly intelligent.
Now that we know a little about the breed let's talk about how to use that in dog training. Why go against the grain? Why try to teach a Northern Breed dog to not dig, it can be done, but there are paths of less resistance. For example, give your dog a specific area that they are allowed to dig in. Get some old railroad ties and fashion a box in the yard. Encourage your dog to dig in this area alone. If your dog digs in other areas re-direct them to the "allowed" area for digging and praise them for using the correct digging area. The reward of digging and the bonus of praise will naturally bring them to the "allowed" area again and again. Keep it positive during the "re direct", call the dog's name and then walk them over to the digging area and lay on the praise when they dig in the right area.
Let's also look at how much exercise the dog is getting. Sibe's were bred to have stamina to pull sleds. When dogs have too much energy, and not enough outlet for that energy, they use their dog minds, to solve their dog problems, and digging is going to be high on a Sibe's list of things to do. So start giving that dog some more walks, and give him his very own place to dig. Remember, he may be a little stressed from changing homes, so give him some adjustment time as well.