Your house may be clean and tidy and your dog may be fully trained to relieve herself outdoors, but wait until you see what dirty deeds she comes up with when she has nothing better to do.
Digging in the Yard
Unless your dog was part of the planning meeting for your proposed swimming pool, canine excavation in your yard can be quite annoying. You have two choices on how to deal with this very natural canine behavior: stop it altogether or redirect it.
To stop it, keep a close eye on your dog while he’s out in the yard. If you see him begin to dig, run out and stop him using a raised voice or a loud noise of some type. After a while, your dog will realize the pattern of events associated with this activity and stop the behavior.
Some behaviorists suggest soaking your dog with the hose when he digs, but unless you enjoy having a wet dog scratching at the back door, you’d be making things worse for yourself.
Probably the better course of action is to redirect this behavior. Fence off a corner of your yard, take your dog to it and have him watch you bury something there, like a bone or a toy. Encourage him to dig it up and praise him when he does. Repeat this exercise every day with a little treasure for your dog to find until he automatically goes there on his own to dig. If you find him digging elsewhere, stop him, take him to his designated area and let him continue.
Getting into the Garbage
No matter how well behaved he is in your presence and how much your dog likes to please you, the temptation to raid the garbage pail is too good to pass up, particularly when he’s alone and bored.
Keep your trash under the sink and put a childproof fastener on the cupboard door. Or keep it in a separate, closed off room such as your garage or laundry room. If you can’t do either of these, invest in trashcans that have closing lids and add an air freshener to the trash every now and then to make the smell less appealing.
The worst thing you can do is wait to see if your dog does enjoy a quick rummage through the trash and then decide to do something about it. In this scenario, no matter what you do, he will only get more and more inventive about breaking into it, probably being even more destructive in the process.
Some dogs eat their own or other dogs’ excrement. This behavior is called coprophagia and is a more scientific way of saying, “My dog likes to eat poop.” Some say that feces contain an array or nutrients and vitamins for dogs, but there is no accounting for taste and it’s not a very acceptable pastime.
One way to deal with this is to make a “poop sweep” of your yard on a daily basis. A better strategy would be to have your dog trained to defecate on command so that you can pick it up right away.
Some folks have had success in reducing the behavior by changing their dog’s diet. It’s worth a try . . . but don’t be surprised if it makes little difference.
Eating stool is a behavior most commonly developed in bored dogs, so you have to make sure that you give your dog plenty of regular exercise.
If you’re out walking your dog and he suddenly becomes obsessed with a nice fresh pile, give a firm tug on the leash to steer his attention towards more appropriate activities.
Rolling in stool also appears to be a particularly desirable practice for some dogs. It probably has to do with territory marking and hiding his own smell so he can be an effective hunter. This behavior can be corrected by distracting your dog when he appears to be looking for a good spot to roll around. A busy dog who gets regular exercise isn’t constantly looking for messy activities to keep from getting bored.