Six year old Female, Rescued

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Pat23918's picture
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Joined: 2011-10-16

Hello, here is what I have.  I have a six year old rescued doberman named, Victoria.  I have had her now about two weeks (and plan on keeping her).  She is digging in the back yard which is fenced in (six foot, wooden, board on board).  She has dug under and almost out.  I normally don't leave her outside by herself unless she is chewing on a marrow bone.

How do I get her to stop digging?  Watching her and correcting her?  I would not have thought a older dog would dig much less make a tunnel for "The Great Escape".  Ideas?

Thank you,

Patrick

Helipilot's picture
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Everyone will bash on me for this but.... Get an electric collar... sit inside and watch.. when she starts to dig... zap her.. worked wonders on my friends dogs..... they no longer dig.

Pat23918's picture
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Joined: 2011-10-16

Not sure if I want to ZAP her.  But, I can let her out, watch from inside and when she digs, scold her.  

Helipilot's picture
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do you use "NO" cans? basically a 12oz coke (ect) can with marbles... tabs.. something inside them to make noise? you could stand by and watch her and then throw the NO can at her if you dont have/ wabt to use a collar.

sweetpea's picture
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The idea of a rattle can is to create a noise that acts as a distraction and/or deterrent.  It's not meant to be thrown at your dog, nor would I ever suggest throwing things as a means of discipline!  I don't think it would work in this case anyway - if all you do is rattle a can when she digs, she will be startled by it the first few times but eventually will start to ignore it. 

Pat, I'm sorry you haven't gotten any real answers to this yet - traffic on this forum has been kinda slow recently.  I haven't dealt with dogs that dig but I'll try to give what advice I can. 

Did the rescue or her previous owners say if she had this habit before you got her?  If not it could be boredom.  In case you aren't already doing this, she needs to have 2 walks each day, preferrably for around 20-30 minutes each.  When you're at home you can work on training or play games to build your bond with her and give her something to occupy herself mentally which will keep her from getting bored and turning to digging. 

If it's not boredom and just a bad habit, I would try to be outside with her at all times, especially now, at the beginning.  As soon as you see her start digging give her a firm NO and redirect her to something else - chewing a toy for example.  You could try filling in the holes with rocks or coarse gravel to deter her from digging there again.  As a precaution I wouldn't leave her outside alone until you are 100% sure that she won't dig again.  It's just not worth the risk of her getting out and getting lost, hit by a car, etc. 

Others on here who have had diggers that won't quit have eventually had to take extensive measures with the fencing by putting something under them(or burying the fence a few feet down) to prevent them from escaping.  That's an extreme measure but if nothing else works, you might have to look into it.

Hopefully someone else will chime in and give their advice.  Oh and welcome to the forum!

Lady Kate's picture
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Gee Pat, thank you for your rescue and please pu-leese do not use a shock collar on this girl.. she's had enough trauma and that would do NOTHING but cause more...  and throwing cans at her?

Helipilot REALLY!

I agree with 'Spea, sounds like she's frustrated, confused and reverting back to nature.. wanting to dig her way out of her angst..

I've posted many times on the unique characteristics ( and quirks) if you will, on rescues.. they are a breed unto themselves and any harshness is going to create more unrest in both her and consequently you..

Try to give her more one on one time.. walks, talks, chew toys, YOU toys.. she needs to know she's found a forever home. It takes a good long while for them to settle in.. Usually six months is the average.. I'm still seeing things with Sofia that after over two years that lets me know her 'past' is not something we need to rekindle.

Good luck and please let's have a picture or two

xo

 

 

DJ's Dad's picture
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I dont agree with the shock collar approach OR throwing a can of marbles at her to correct her behaviors. (sorry, Helipilot, but an older rescue dog has a lot of unknown baggage that it is dealing with already without having to worry that her new owner is no better than previous owner(s) that gave up on her)  Suggestions of more time with her to tire her out are great.  More walks, more playing fetch, more mental games like 'find it' or hide and seek....not negative punishments.  This girl has been through who-knows-what already, or else she wouldnt be a 'rescue', or am I wrong?  I dont know the story behind how she became a rescue, but that's not the important thing here.  What IS important is that you build up her confidence, give her positive feedbacks every time she does anything that is NOT bad.  Boredom diggers are common.  If she really likes to dig just for the fun of it, I can suggest giving her a designated spot where it's ok to dig.  I've never had a digging doberman, but I did have a rescued mixed breed shaggy dog, that loved to dig under my fence.  I put down boards, rocks, anything I could find to plug the holes he dug, and gave him his own special place to dig to his heart's content---underneath a storage shed that sets up on concrete blocks. He literally had catacombs dug under there over a period of time, and he loved it.

jeshykai's picture
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Helipilot you just took tactics that are used and gave the WRONG way to utilize them.  Sweetpea corrected you on the proper use of a shake can... and on the e collar?  It is not designed to punish when you are out of sight and try to shock them into not doing something.  It is meant as a LEASH FREE correction.  Meaning you are reinforcing your commands the dog already knows and improving on OFF LEASH heeling, sitting, staying.  It is NEVER meant to be used as a "DON'T DO THAT ZAP!"  -- it won't ever work and what you'll create is a dog who is jumpy/nervous.

I find that if you have no personal experience with using training methods you really shouldn't suggest them.  Your friends' use of the device was wrong.  I use an e collar and when people make dumb suggestions like this it makes people upset about the product.  When used properly it is not an issue.

On the digging.. if the dog is a digger, sometimes you have to teach them an area that is acceptable on digging.  ASCPA actually has a good article on "constructive digging for a rescue" so I'd just google some advice from people who actually have dealt with it.  I have a digger in my rescue pup, only way to correct is find them in the act and reinforce a "NO" and pull out of the area.  If they have that desire give them a sandbox or an area in the yard you will allow them to dig in. 

There are plenty of healthy, simple, ways to correct this behavior.  Just start googling this question and read through some articles from PROFESSIONALS and try them out.  I'd also suggest not leaving her in the yard alone. 

rgreen4's picture
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Pat23918 - first the good news, it can be lessened, the bad news is it can't be stopped.

I'm notorious for telling stories. Back in the late '90's I had been battleing this problem with 4 Dobermans - mama and three grown pups. So, I had the brilliant idea of building them an exercise area out back that was "dig proof". I laid out a 70' x 100' exercise area. To dig proof it, I used the tractor with tiller to loosed up the dirt on the lines, used a back blade to pull the dirt out creating a 4' wide trench about 2" deep along the outline of my planned enclosure. I then laid 4' welded wire fencing flat in the trench and covered it. I then installed 6' chainlink fence for the entire 70' x 100' enclosure with three gates. I then wiretied the bottom of the chainlink to the welded wire fencing. I had a "dig proof" dog enclosure for no matter where they dug, they would encounter the wire fencing in the ground.

Well, just like there is no such thing as an unsinkable ship, there is no such thing as a dig proof dog enclosure (unless it has a concrete floor). A year or so later, my late sister was visiting me and I was at work when I received a frantic phone call. The Dobes were out in the enclosure and then she went out to check on them. In the back corner, behind trees so it couldn't be seen from the house, they had dug down starting 3' from the fence (before the wire) and had tunneled 4' under the fence so that the tunnel was almost at the end of the wire on the outside of the fence! She wanted to know what to do. Of course she got them put back in the house in their crates (except for mama who was never crated).

Remember the original name for our beloved dogs was Doberman PINSCHER and in German Pinscher means Terrier. Terriers dig, it's their nature. All dogs dig, but terriers are the professional diggers.

You have 4 options -

1. Crate her when she needs a time out.

2. When she is outside, stay with her and exercise her.

3. Give her more time in the house with you, which is where she wants to be.

4. One suggestion from another member is to clean up the yard and put her own feces in the hold and then fill in the hold. Of course she won't dig there again, but there are probably plenty of other places to dig.

She is bored when outside by herself, and a bored Doberman is going to get into trouble. They are loving and affections, but also very intelligent and devious. They are very good at solving puzzles, and you will need to get up early to stay ahead of her.

I think if you keep her in with you except when she needs to do her business, then you will find she will not dig. Dobermans are called velcro dogs for a reason. As I type this I am being seranaded by Jake as he is in his crate, as he want to be out with me. He was being quiet, so I put him down for a nap - right. No naps unless they are at my feet. Princess and Jake both dig, but since they are not out that much, the holes are few and shallow. If I am out with them, they don't dig.

Pat23918's picture
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Joined: 2011-10-16

Thank you all for the comments.  Victoria is great and here is what I've been doing.  Sunday - Friday's routine: 1. Walk for about 1.5 miles at 0400, run at 0430 or so for 3.3 to 3.5 miles.  Lunch (I have a job that I get to work from home) time is a 2.2 mile walk.  After my trip to the gym, it is another 1.5 mile walk.  During the day, we have play time (ball and tag).

When I had her in the back yard, I was in the front yard raking.  I think she just wanted to be "With" me in the front yard.  I have noticed she likes the cool "Sandy Soil" (here in Florida) on the hip she had been hit by a vehicle.  I will let her out in the back yard with marrow bones and let her have some "Victoria" time.  Laying in the sun enjoying the warmth on these cooler fall days.  I'll just keep an eye on her and when she goes to dig, I'll correct her.

As for VELCRO...  WOW.  I had forgotten what it was like as a kid growing up with the two we had.  Of course, it was a rather larger "Two Family" family and they loved us all.  I don't mind and even took her to the drop zone (a place to skydive) and got great reviews on her behavior while I was up jumping.

Again, thank you all for the wonderful advice and I'll keep you posted on her and  my progress.

Control_Freak's picture
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Wow sounds like Victoria hit the jackpot when she got you!!!! I am so happy to hear that you exercise her so much! Dobermans are so athletic and make to most amazing running partners. She sounds amazing...you might want to consider agility or competitio. Obedience for her. She will probably really enjoy it.

I am not sure how long you have had her with you...but I want to caution you on building up her endurance. Dogs, just like humans have to train just like we do. If she as never ran like that you should slowly work up to the 7-8 miles a day you are doing with her. Especially since you mentioned a previous injury. Don't forget to check her paws for cracks or blisters, her muscles for strains or knots and her joints for strain as she is an older girl. Also, with all of the exercise keep an eye on her weight and appetite, she might need more food and/or a higher protein food.cold You may already be doing all of this ...just giving you a friendly reminder.

Thank you for rescuing this wonderful girl and giving her a wonderful home.

Pat23918's picture
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I can always use the reminders.  I watch how much she eats and drinks.  She is very foot sensitive.  I think someone in her past clipped her nails to short or hurt her.  I check her feet after our runs.  My pace is about 8 minutes a mile and slower on our walks.  I did work up to the 3.5 mile run and I think she likes it.  On Saturdays when we don't go for a run she sort of looks at me like, "What, no running?"  Not sure if she would be up for the agility.  Her hip is OK but the twisting and turning would not be good on it.  I was hit by a car in 89 and my knee can't take the twisting and turning either.  On the other hand, getting me into a "Training/Obedience" class is a must.

I have to say to her, "Thank you for picking me and enriching my life."

sweetpea's picture
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Wow, she is a lucky girl!!  And you a lucky guy too by the sounds of it, she seems like a sweetheart.  They do make excellent running partners.  I run with my girl Dakota and she just loves it.  

Good luck with the digging issue, it sounds like you have it under control.  Keep us updated on her progress!  Stories and photos are always welcome here! 

Pat23918's picture
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Thank you all for the great suggestions.  She has not been digging lately.  I also have kept her with me while I'm out and about.  I'll get some pictures less than 2 megs.. :D