Toby’s No Angel

I didn’t hear back from the vet today about Toby’s newest lump, so now I’ll need to wait until Thursday when the good doc is back at work. (It seems like waiting is becoming my new pastime.) In the meantime, I wanted to tell you a story about my little devil sweet angel Toby.

Certain friends and family members, (they know who they are), attest that Toby is NOT as bad as I say he is, because he is always well behaved in their presence. I’m not surprised, because Toby loves to make a liar out of me in public. In the past, I’ve often contacted a trainer, (he’s been to 12 of them you know), described to them just how terrible he was, and begged for help. Then I’d bring Toby in, and he’d act like an obedience champ.

But Nick and I live with him, and we know the truth.

Today, I want to talk about just one of Toby’s annoying little habits, which is digging in the yard. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve seen pictures of my yard…

The "Lovely" Yard

It’s mostly dirt, and frankly, Nick and I don’t care. The dogs have loads of fun running and playing in it, and we’ve never been able to get anything other than weeds to grow, so we gave up on the dream of a lawn. We even (gasp) allow the dogs to dig….but only in assigned digging spots.

When we catch a dog digging where we don’t want them to, we tell them “No,” and then we bring them to a spot where they are allowed to dig, kick some dirt around with our feet, and tell them to have a blast. And the girls picked up on this quite easily.

Not Toby.

He wants to dig alongside the foundation of our house and too close to our fence for comfort. Not that he’s trying to escape – he actually digs straight down – but we have enough problems with feral cats leaving us “presents” that we don’t need to build them an entrance way. Yet no matter how many times we redirect Toby, (this habit has been going on for years), he returns to his favorite spots and goes to town.

We’ve also tried distractions, like throwing his favorite toy, and we’ve tried calling him away and then rewarding him, but Toby figured that one out real fast.

I see. If I dig, I get a cookie. Great game.

In desperation, we even went against our ideals and tried (another gasp) punishment. Yup – I admit it, we’ve tried leashing Toby and stopping him from enjoying playtime on days when he Just. Won’t. Quit. Aren’t we harsh? Oh, and we’ve tried verbal reprimands too – usually in a string of curses coming from Nick as he chases Toby away from a hole he just filled in.

For those who are wondering about the old trick of burying poop in the hole, that won’t work with Toby. He views poop like most of us view pizza – just as savory when it’s fresh and steamy as it is when eaten as a cold leftover snack, and just as tasty in the evening as it is first thing in the morning. Even if it’s covered in dirt. Or cat litter, for that matter.

And when redirecting, distracting, rewarding, punishment, and reprimanding don’t work – you are left with management…so Nick and I tried barricading the areas we don’t want Toby excavating, like this:

Thwarting Toby Attempt 1

Thwarting Toby Attempt 2

Thwarting Toby Attempt 3

Yet he STILL digs:

Nothing can stop the yellow terror!

The thing I’ve noticed about these dig spots is that they are all in the shade…and after Toby digs, he generally likes to lay in the cool earth…

Nothing like freshly dug dirt to cool a guy off.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I insisted to Nick that Toby is not trying to be a pain in his rear, and that my dog is just hot.

My solution? Find a nice shady spot under a bush:

An ideal place for a nap

And stick a dog bed under it:

What better place for a dog bed?

Do you think it worked?

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21 Responses so far.

  1. Joann says:

    Donna that didn’t work. You forgot to fill the bed with cool damp dirt and a little poop for good measure.

  2. Jodi says:

    I’m sure it didn’t work. Have you tried burying some good things in the area you want him to dig?

    Other than put up some small garden fencing around the areas you don’t want him in, I got nothing. :-(

    • Donna says:

      I haven’t tried that Jodi, although, he will also dig in designated spots too, so it’s not like I need to encourage him to dig there. That’s the problem with Toby….teaching to DO things is easy, teaching him what NOT to do is another story.

  3. Tee Hee – It sounds like Toby is keeping you busy – I think it’s a game!! :)

    Where’s the fun in just chilling in a pre-made bed under the tree? :)

    Big wags

    Your pal Snoopy :)

  4. jan says:

    Genetically Poodles are not supposed to be diggers, but a couple of years ago Misty learned to dig from Chamois the generic dog. She didn’t dig holes, she dug moats beside the fence.

    I tried all the positive reinforcement ideas, but as you noted, I was rewarding her for bad behavior. Finally I just brought her in and washed her off with less and less gentleness whenever it happened. Eventually she got bored with the game.

    • Donna says:

      The “generic” dog. That’s great. I have one of them too. :-)
      Toby doesn’t mind baths, so I don’t see how that would work with him, but glad it worked for you!

  5. oh my you made me LAUGH!!!!
    Toby sounds so much like Dakota!
    I always tell people what a terror Dakota can be at home and like Toby, he proves me to be a liar when he is in public.

    Do I think it worked? NOPE…. lol

    LOVED the part about the pizza lmao!!

  6. Barb says:

    Nope, it didn’t work – Toby has got you taped, it’s all a game to him!

  7. Pamela says:

    Bol! With Toby around the house, I bet you don’t have to pay for cable.

    Honey likes to dig up cat poop in the garden (damn cats–if I let Honey poop in the cat people’s yard, you better believe I’d hear about it).

    I know yelling isn’t fair. But I can’t resist looking her in the eyes and saying in a high, sweet voice: “Who’s my spawn of Satan? Is it you? Are you my demon dog?”

    • Donna says:

      I totally agree about the cat poop. I’m tired of my dogs dining on the neighbor’s pets “creations” – I understand most of the cats are feral, but some aren’t, and if you keep feeding them, more and more come every day. It seems, they go there to eat, and use my yard to potty. Ugh. I can’t imagine if I let my three over there to use the facilities!

      I prefer not to yell either, but sometimes Toby really knows how to get under Nick’s skin. But honestly, yelling is NOT a regular thing over here, usually, the yellow one makes us laugh, even when he’s being evil, like your “spawn of Satan”. LOL!

  8. Kristine says:

    I’ve never had to deal with a digging problem before but all the suggestions I’ve read you’ve already tried! That’s tough. I’d love to have hope your bed trick worked but I am not very confident. I am impressed he’d dig even under the precarious rakes and shovels. Nothing is going to stop him from having his fun. When ya gotta dig, ya gotta dig!

  9. [...] wondering about whether or not my dog bed idea stopped Toby from digging? Or maybe not, judging by your comments. Apparently, most of you know my dog better than [...]

  10. We don’t allow digging. (I know we are mean.) I think it is very difficult for dogs to understand it is OK here and not there because it all seems the same to them. Sure some dogs might pick it up, but I would say that digging probably isn’t that important to them in the first place.

    I am behind…again…hope you had good news on Toby.

    • Donna says:

      Nothing wrong with not letting your dogs dig, I wouldn’t call that mean. I’d say we all have rules of what is and it is what is not acceptable for our dogs. Personally, I feel all of my dogs enjoy digging – they all do it regularly and with gusto, but as far as where to dig, both of my girls certainly picked it up quickly. It’s like they are allowed on the sofa, (with permission), but never on our bed. All three of them seem to understand that. I think Toby just enjoys getting under Nick’s skin. :-)

  11. Leslie says:

    I never had to deal with digging before Bella and I didn’t appreciate how lucky I was. ;) Bella likes to sleep under bushes in the yard (very seldom will she lie down out in an unprotected space.) So at least she’s only digging where it’s not especially noticeable. Like you, we have been fairly successful at teaching her where it’s okay and where it’s not. Now if we could only teach her how deep is okay and what’s not, we’d be in business. (We actually fill her holes back in after most excursions so she keeps digging the same dirt out and doesn’t actually make it to China in her attempts. :)

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