Ask the Trainer




Q: “My Rat Terrier digs. He’s destroying my
landscaping! How can I make him stop?”

A: For this question, I went to the experts… other Terrier owners! 

Patti Anderson, CPDT-KA and Pet Partners evaluator of North Star Therapy Animals and Paws Abilities Dog Training, has a Cairn Terrier and a Border Terrier. The first thing she recommends is immediate relief: “fence off the areas you don’t want them in” until you can address your dog’s digging through training.

Since digging is a strong genetic behavior, both experts agreed that it’s best to channel your dog’s digging impulses instead of trying to squash them altogether.

“I have a digger in my pack,” admits Cheryl Bicknese, a Paws Abilities Day Camp trainer and owner of Dachshunds. “We allow him to dig in a very specific place, and trained him to ‘go dig in your spot’ whenever we caught him digging in the yard.”

Anderson concurs. She relieves her dogs’ digging needs by creating an area of the yard that they’re encouraged to dig in.

“Train your dog to only dig in that spot by burying yummy bones or toys,” Anderson recommends. If your dog is always finding buried treasure in their special spot, they’re less likely to turn their attention to your landscaping. Both trainers recommend supervising your dog outdoors until they’re reliable about only digging in their spot. Fill in any holes in your landscaping.

There are other great outlets for diggers, too.

“Keep your dog busy with a large, low box filled with lots of strips of newspaper,“ says Anderson. “Toss half of their kibble in, and shuffle it around to meet [your dog’s] digging needs without doing anything to the landscape.”

Bicknese competes in barn hunt with her dogs, and Anderson also recommends barn hunt or earthdog activities. These outlets “tire them out and fill their need to do Terrier things.”

Q: “I exercise my Border Collie every day, but I feel like I can never get her to calm down. What’s the best way to wear her out?”

A:  “Border Collies were bred to work for long stretches of time,” says Sarah Griffin, a Karen Pryor Academy student and Paws Abilities Dog Training apprentice, “so I’m not surprised
she’s a hard dog to tire out.”

Since Border Collies are intelligent working dogs, physical exercise alone just doesn’t cut it for this breed.

“You’ll get the most bang for your buck if you make sure that you’re mentally stimulating her as well as exercising her,” Griffin advises. “Border Collies are popular dogs for dog sports like agility, K9 nose work, or competition obedience. If any of those sound like something your dog would like, there are classes you can take to learn more.”

Not every dog or owner is cut out for competitive dog events, however. If sports aren’t your cup of tea, Griffin says that there are plenty of things you can do at home to keep your dog’s brain busy.

She recommends feeding your dog out of food-dispensing toys like Kongs. She also recommends that you mix up your walking routine. Walks are best if your dog isn’t glued to your side, Griffin says, but instead “allowed to investigate her surroundings.” Encourage your dog to switch back and forth between walking politely and checking out her world.

Teaching new tricks is also a good energy-burner. “Even a few minutes of training makes a big difference,“ Griffin says. “Be creative. Anything that asks your dog to think and make her own decisions will help her be a little more tired at the end of the day.”

Not sure where to start? The KikoPup channel on YouTube is a great resource for trick-training tutorials.

Sara Reusche CBCC-KA CPDT-KSA CVT, is owner of Paws Abilities Dog Training.