Puppies and your Garden
Well, our puppies have been with us over a week and boy have they changed in even this short a timeframe. I remember clearly how slow they were on their first few days. Taking them to the toilet was no stress because they could hardly work their paws properly enough to do more than a few steps. Just over a week later and wow, they can move! Two weeks later and they can definitely outrun me, not that that’s ever been that hard as I’m no sprinter. So, it has gone from being cute to being another thing that I need to manage carefully.
At the beginning, I could pick up the puppies, one under each arm, and carry them over to our fenced off small paddock for them to do their business in. After a week, Twinkle and Star created a new game where they would have a pee, then run as fast as they could back into the house before I could catch them. Then of course I would have to given them each a cuddle, pick them both back up and then tucked them under my arms again to take them out again so they could do their number 2’s. Then it would be 10 minutes of playtime and chilling out on the grass with each other, playing with leaves and just enjoying being outside before I brought them back inside into their puppy area.
Now, each area that I used to take them to, is too big and can lead to other areas which are too dangerous for puppies to get to unattended, especially since they are quite ready to go off exploring the moment I look away. Now, life is just too exciting for Twinkle to even remember to go to the toilet when she goes outside. There are too many exciting things to do – like digging, and digging , oh yes, did I mention that my little Twinkle likes digging? We live on a lifestyle block so we don’t have a proper grass lawn as such. But we do have paddocks and it is actually quite nice to be able to walk around them without tripping or twisting an ankle thanks to holes that puppies have enthusiastically created everywhere.
The thing is, trying to stop a puppy digging is like trying to stop the tide. It’s a totally natural activity. It’s fun. It keys into natural canine behaviours that are self-rewarding. If you don’t make a big deal about it, the behaviour will eventually disappear as the puppy gets a bit older. If you focus on it, you bring attention to it and potentially make it more exciting. Asking a puppy to respond to dirt in the same way as a precious human who is being precious about the dirt around their house is somewhat farcical.
Instead, there is an easier way forward. It does not have to be the puppy’s way or your way. It’s not a case of having a pretty garden or having a puppy. Do what we do – sacrifice a section of your garden for your puppy. Fence it off with some temporary fencing such as waratahs and a roll of mesh from your DIY store. Every time we go outside, we put our puppies in this outside area so they can dig, do their business or run around like crazy without destroying anything else. In six to eight months’ time, we will be able to take this fencing down and we’ll have some freshly turned soil ready for planting thanks to our lovely puppies hard work. Now that’s what I call a WIN! You just have to take the long view – win the war not the battles along the way.
Victoria Road, Hamilton, NZ
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