What to do if your dog tries to dig in their Piddle Patch grass

How to stop your dog from digging.

Dog Digging Under Fence by Simon Turkas on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

For many dogs, digging is an enjoyable activity and instinctive behaviour.  It can be a nuisance when house-training your dog though. The good news is that it’s a manageable behaviour. If your puppy is a digger, and if they’re trying to dig in their Piddle Patch, these tips will help:

1. When you bring your dog to Piddle Patch, use your command word (“go potty”, “go wee”, etc) to indicate that you want them to relieve themselves. If your pup is just starting out with their house-training, this step will be important for building the connection between the command word and the expected behaviour. While training your pup, it’s important that you discourage all forms of play on Piddle Patch. Puppies can be easily distracted, and some puppies may think the grass is there to play with, sleep on or dig in, so it’s important to discourage these activities as soon as possible and encourage only the correct behaviour from your puppy so as to avoid teaching them bad habbits.  If your dog starts to dig, say “no” in a firm voice, regain their attention and move your dog away from Piddle Patch. After a few minutes, return to Piddle Patch and again use your command word to encourage them to relieve themselves on Piddle Patch. If your dog does not go immediately, it may be that they aren’t ready; continue to bring them back to Piddle Patch every few minutes until they relieve themselves. If they try to relieve themselves somewhere else, pick them up and have them finish on Piddle Patch.  After every successful potty break, shower them with lots of praise. After a few successful potty breaks they will understand what you are asking them to do with Piddle Patch and will no longer need the assistance.

2. Digging is a common activity for bored dogs, so it’s important that you are providing your dog with plenty of exercise and stimulation. This will naturally discourage your pup from digging in the grass as a form of exercise and entertainment. If you catch your dog digging, distract them by providing a fun activity for them to do.  Be sure to provide encouragement, praise (and maybe a treat!) for this new, preferred activity. If your dog is inclined to dig, then you should consider making them a special place to dig, like in a box of fabric or in a sandbox. This will allow them to enjoy the act of digging in a suitable, non-destructive way.

3. Puppies explore the world with their mouths and a teething puppy will be inclined to put everything into their mouth. You can help the situation by ensuring they have enough chew toys and treats to nibble on.
4. Do not use treats to encourage your puppy to stand on Piddle Patch or to try to encourage them to potty. They are unlikely to understand what you are trying to teach them and they may come to believe that Piddle Patch is the place to come and search for tasty treats. If using treats to reward your puppy, only do so after they have successfully relieved themselves and do not put the treat on the Piddle Patch grass.
5. If, despite this training, your dog still tries to dig in Piddle Patch, you may want to try putting some of their poop in the spots where they have dug. This acts as a deterrent for many dogs who continue to dig in the same spot.
It’s important to remember that the world is a new and exciting place for your puppy. They don’t yet know what’s right or wrong, or indeed what’s edible or not. With consistent training and reinforcement, you’ll soon train your pup to use Piddle Patch grass as a potty and not as a play-area.

 

Want more? Check out these house-training tips.