Talking To Bud About Digging Under The Fence

My studio door was open and the dogs were all outside.  It was even warm enough for Bud, but also warm enough that the ground is no longer frozen.

We were hoping that Bud might forget about the digging he did last summer and fall.  That maybe not being able to dig out of the yard all winter the behavior might have changed.

It was one of the hens, doing a lot of clucking that got me away from my work to check on the dogs.

And it was good that I did,  because Bud had moved the log we’d put in front of the gate (to stop him from digging) and had a hole dug almost deep enough for him to crawl through.

“Bad dog!” I yelled at Bud. That didn’t stop him so I said it again and this time he startled and backed away from the gate.  I filled in the hole and put the log back in place.

Then I took Bud in the house.  Bud is sensitive to being yelled at.  But catching him in the act and letting him know that I don’t want him to keep doing what he’s doing is often the best way to get him to stop.

In the house Bud had a drink of water then I sat down with him on the kitchen floor.  Sometimes, when I have something that I think is important to say to the dogs, I talk to them.  I don’t know if it works, but it seems like the right thing to do.  And I prefer it to yelling.

So I looked at Bud and I told him that we didn’t want him digging any more holes.  That he had to stop digging under the fence.

He looked at me with his big, sad, brown eyes and in my head I heard the words,  “I can’t help it.” As if he would if he could.

And I knew it was true.

Of course he can’t help it.  Bud is a hunter.  It’s what Boston Terriers were bred to do.   When Bud sees the hens and Zip moving around all day his instinct kicks in even though they’re not mice or rats.

Bud didn’t start digging until last summer when a turtle was on the other side of the fence trying to get to the marsh.  So in a way it is a new behavior for him.  Before that he used to watch the squirrel that ran the treetops for hours.  Then he’s was looking up, but now he’s focused on what’s happening on the ground.

And there’s a lot happening.

So it’s up to us not to put him in the situation where he can dig under the fence.  That means lining the whole fence and gates with flat rocks which does deter him. It’s a lot of work, but I will get to it a little at a time.  (fortunately we have lots of big flat rocks from old foundations on the farm)  And until that happens, we’ll just have to limit the time that Bud can be outside without us watching him.

After I heard Bud’s plea, I told him it was okay, that I understood and gave him a treat.  He took it under the dining room table and chewed happily as if all was forgotten.

10 thoughts on “Talking To Bud About Digging Under The Fence

  1. I’m sure the flat rocks will be a good deterrent for Bud!
    We have the same issue with our Escher. He’s a Jack Russell/ Border Collie mix and when he sees something move he just can’t help himself, he has to find a way to chase it. Most of the time we are able to keep him in the fenced acre but every now and again he finds a way off the property. My biggest concern is that he will get shot by one of the ranchers if he makes his way onto the big ranch at the end of our lane. Most of the time it’s not an issue but calving season is around the corner and the cattle will be close by till fall so we are on our toes to keep him home.

    1. Ah I don’t feel so alone in this Josie. Bud is not in that kind of danger if he gets out. It’s more the road or him hurting one of the other animals on the farm. But it is a part of having certain kinds of dogs and animals in general. I hope Escher (great name for an escape artist, all those stairs come to mind) stays inside the fence!

  2. Maria, this is such a beautiful explanation of dog behavior. Instinct, not intentional. Thank you for that.

  3. My Boston Terrier too. Only it’s kleenex — he “steals” it off the table tops, shreds it, eats some and then leaves the
    shreds in my chair! I think he just gets bored — but he gets lots of walks and attention. I sometimes put some
    Tabasco sauce on a bit of kleenex and leave it on the table to remind him “NO!” He knows he’s not supposed to do that.

    They are just so inquisitive. Well, now that the weather is warming up, we’ll be taking more walks.
    He loves eating the spring grass also. Doesn’t make him sick though. He just looks at me with little shreds of
    grass sticking out of his mouth!

    1. Ha! I can just picture him with the grass hanging out of his mouth Marcia. Fate likes to shred tissues, but only used ones she pulls from the trash.

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