Let's keep Beth from killing her dog!

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Assuming it's probably too late to put in an aggressive enough fence to keep an 85-lb. dog out of the vegetable garden if that were even possible short of chain link buried 2 feet deep, how can we keep Doc from digging his own grave in Beth's vegetables?

The tough-love solution for next year would be to build some kind of greenhouse; perhaps Beth can convince Jeremy to include one into the plans for the garage? Or perhaps a section of the garden could be completely fenced off, which would require re-working the entire Big Picture map of where things are intended to grow.

-- Colin (cfmckin@uswest.com), April 25, 2000


I wrote to Beth privately already, but for anyone else with large, persistant dogs (I have 4 Rottweilers) I can recommend using electric livestock fencing to keep your dogs out of your flower or vegetable beds. I put mine up for a week or so in the spring now and the dogs don't go anywhere near it! It does shock them when they hit it, but I've been shocked a couple times too, and it's not that bad. Just bad enough to keep them out of the beds.

-- Cathy (capdvm@sprint.ca), April 25, 2000.

Oh yeah, I forgot to add....

"Check with your own veterinarian first."

-- Cathy (capdvm@sprint.ca), April 25, 2000.

Oh Beth, I'm about to kill my tulip-eating mutt, so I truly feel your pain. After waiting it out through a long cold April, it's so frustrating to find one after the other of my tulips decapitated. Can you do your veggies and herbs in containers? Not that that helps the immediate pain and frustration, but maybe that's a future option.

Good luck, and Bad Dog!!!

-- Moira (moira_63@yahoo.com), April 25, 2000.

Oh, no, he's even worse with containers. The only containers I can have are the kinds that are too big for him to knock around, which means REALLY big containers. Like the kind you plant trees in. Even then, he digs out any smaller plants.

David (whose e-mail I don't have because I'm at work) suggested something which we had planned to do but forgotten all about: give Doc his own digging area and encourage him to play in that spot. I've heard that some people have had success with this approach, especially with breeds of dogs that are natural diggers (huskies, malamutes, samoyeds ... Doc's mom was a samoyed mix).

I'm going to work on it this weekend. I had gone so far as to buy some compost for him last fall, but he tore open the bags before I got them moved to the proper spot, and I never got back to it. I was advised to bury some toys or treats in that spot from time to time, and fill in the holes on a regular basis, and just make the other areas of the yard as unattractive for him as possible.

The only problem I can see is that I think he sometimes digs in spots where the squirrels have already been digging around -- in other words, if the squirrels keep digging in my garden, Doc probably will, too. I found that cayenne pepper didn't work at all with Doc, but maybe it will with squirrels? I'll give it another try. (I've heard that the pepper flakes are more effective than the powder, so I'll try the flakes this time.)

Thank you, everyone, for your suggestions!

-- Beth (beth@xeney.com), April 25, 2000.

I used to have a German Spitz, a dog who loved, loved, loved to dig. She grew out of her digging fetish around three or four years old but I bet you don't want to wait that long for a veggie garden.....we used the Designated Digging Area approach on her and it worked rather well. It took her a little while to get the picture of where digging was okay and where digging was NOT okay (the behavior can generalize a little bit but if you've been through training with Doc, he'll probably catch on quicker than you think) but eventually she got it and we never had any problems after that.

The dog I now have loves to dig but SOMEHOW he thinks that digging is like a trick--he doesn't dig in his yard anymore (he had it constantly torn up until about 1 1/2 yrs.) but if you tell him to dig, he'll try to dig wherever he's standing. Pretty useful when I'm starting the flower beds. Kind of like having a furry tiller with a personality. You could try to teach him that but we never really taught him that on purpose. We just believe in liberal distribution of dog biscuits and I guess he got the idea we were rewarding him for digging when commanded. Go figure. Good luck!

-- erin (erin@shreve.net), April 26, 2000.

My had a dog staying for a few months who nearly destroyed her garden -- not only did Poppy (part Staffordshire terrier) dig up plants, she generally ate them too.

My sister's solution was cayenne pepper. Lots of cayenne pepper, sprinkled on all the beds, particularly those freshly replanted. It seemed to work.

Too bad if Doc likes spicey food though ....

-- Barbara (hock@hockadilly.co.uk), April 26, 2000.

I have a gardening magazine that had a beautiful photo spread on what some gardeners did to keep deer out. They created a very large enclosed garden -- using wooden frames (about 8 feet tall, maybe?) with chicken wire. They had a lovely garden inside, with a small gazebo-type pergola thing in the center, with climbing vines growing up and over it, and intimate seating in the middle.

The entire thing was pretty large, and they obviously had a lot of property around it. So this is probably too much. But I thought I'd mention it. I could dig out the magazine if you want to know more.

-- Pooks (TexasTrish@aol.com), April 27, 2000.

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