I am having some problems with my 8 month old boxer. He is always digging holes in the back yard and eating the garbage.
I often mention Nature’s Template when I write about dogs and one of the chapters right at the front of Nature’s Template’s book is the need for supervision of non-adults by adults. The chapter name is “Kids Don’t Raise Themselves”. Whether it’s a dog, wolf, ape or human being there must be supervision of our youngsters from birth to young adulthood or consequences will be suffered. Once in a while everyone’s child will sneak under a parent’s radar and get into some mischief; like once my mother caught my three year old brother brushing his teeth in the toilet. It only happened once so no real harm done other then he grew up to have a really bad potty mouth.
If we unplug the radar entirely, what was “just mischief” becomes a bad habit. If your dog is digging holes, and getting into the garbage, you’re not supervising him according to his maturity. For some reason we treat young dogs as if they have some sort of innate ability to know the rules and then are surprised when they bark madly in the yard or at the window, eat garbage at every opportunity, or dig holes etc. When dogs, wolves, apes, humans etc. diligently supervise their youngsters, its purpose isn’t supposed to wreck their freedom, it’s supposed to wreck their freedom to make mistakes so they can enjoy freedom and success once they are adults.
Supervision doesn’t only mean being in the same room as your dog. Your dog can be laying at your feet, you might even be petting the dog but if the doorbell rings and the dog can get to the door before you can get to the dog that’s not supervision. That’s a dog that sooner or later acts like a clown or a bodyguard when someone comes to the door. Stick a leash on your dog in the house and a lunge line out in the yard (and be there with him) and into the crate if you’re really spread too thin and do that until your dog is an adult. You’ll end up with one of the happiest best trained dogs in the neighbourhood even if you never step foot into a training centre. My dad used a leash on me until I moved out of the house except it came in the form of “Where are you going? When are you coming home? Who are you going to be with? What’s the phone number for where you’re at?” It’s not about whether he trusted me, it’s about maturity. There’s nothing the matter with your dog at all other then his mother thinks he’s gifted and doesn’t need her guidance.
A dog depending on breed and blood lines isn’t an adult until it’s 18 months to 3 years of age. Diligent supervision for that long can be a pain in the butt, but you bought the dog now you have to raise it. It’s not so bad though. With the leash it’s easier for you to multi-task and after a few days the dog stops trying to sneak away to gulp some garbage as what you see as a leash dragging on the floor, he sees as eyes in the back of your head and he’ll throw in the towel and amuse himself in more positive ways.