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Keeping Your Dog from Ruining Your Yard

Keeping your dog from ruining your yard can be an ongoing battle. Some dogs like to dig, others don’t confine their elimination to one “potty” area, and still others are just generally destructive to everything in the yard. Whatever your problem, here are some tips for keeping your dog from ruining your yard.

If your dog is a digger, keeping your dog from ruining your yard means trying to change instinctive behavior that is part of his nature. Some breeds, like terriers and dachshunds, are especially prone to digging. Changing this behavior can be difficult, but not impossible. One way to do this, particularly if your dog has a favorite place to dig, is to set up a water sprinkler nearby. When your dog begins digging, turn on the sprinkler. A sudden dousing will stop most dogs in their tracks. If your dog digs when you are away from home, consider an automatic sprinkler with a timer. Sudden loud noises, such as coins in a can being shook, administered when the dog begins digging can also be a way to keep your dog from ruining your yard.

If all else fails, you may want to consider letting your dog have one designated area for digging. Convincing your dog to limit his digging to this area will take reinforcement and patience. First, decide on a specific area to be his digging ground, and be consistent. Once you decide where it is okay to dig, it is confusing and unfair to the dog to change the location. Dig a few shallow holes yourself, placing a treat or toy in each one. Encourage your dog with enthusiastic praise when he digs them up. Simultaneously, discourage digging in other areas by using loud noises or a spray of water. When he digs in an area outside of his designated spot, use the deterrent (loud noise, water, etc.), followed immediately by redirecting him to “his” spot and praising him when he digs there.

If your dog is eliminating all over your lawn, the key to keeping your dog from ruining your yard is to train him to eliminate in one particular, out of the way spot. As with any training, this will take time, patience, and consistency. One of the best methods is to leash your dog and walk him to the spot you want him to use. Choose a command that you will consistently use, such as “Do your business,” or something similar. Repeat this phrase until your dog eliminates, then praise him generously. If he attempts to urinate or defecate in other areas of the yard, give him a stern “No!” accompanied by a quick snap of the leash, then return to the designated area and prompt him to go there. When he successfully demonstrates willingness to go in this spot, try letting him off the leash (assuming, of course, that your yard is securely fenced) but monitor him carefully for a while. If he wanders into other areas and appears ready to eliminate, use a deterrent (such as loud noises or water) and redirect him tot eh designated spot. When he eliminates there, be sure to praise him.

If your dog is just generally destructive while outside, the best way of keeping your dog from ruining your yard is to keep him from being bored. Dogs who display destructive behaviors aren’t “bad dogs,” they are bored dogs! Be sure he has plenty of toys and that he gets sufficient time out of the yard to play and expend energy.