This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

August 1, 2014

Sharing a garden with a dachshund

If you have a quiet, peaceful garden, I really can't recommend a dachshund. But Macintosh, the good little wiener dog, has been living here for eight years, and my garden, and life, wouldn't be the same without her. And she lives peacefully, and quietly, here.

Dachshunds are stubborn. Luckily, I am more stubborn. Dachshunds are diggers. Luckily, I knew how to discourage that right from the start. Dachshunds bark a lot, and they chew up things. But not Macintosh, the good little wiener dog.

If your yard, and your world, looks like the aftermath of World War III because you own a dachshund, and you have just given up any chance of sharing a nice world with your dachshund, I would like to share with you some of the things I've learned.

• Accept that a dachshund is a dog. As much as I love her, she is not a *fur child*. I've been around dogs all of my life, and believe me, what works for them is not the same as what works for people. Unfortunately, if you can't get this concept down, a dachshund is a breed that will stubbornly get what it wants.

• Show clearly what you expect. Dogs don't speak English, so there's no reason for a *sit-down* with a lengthy explanation. And dogs can't connect events that happened in the past with what you are upset about now. For Macintosh, I spent enough time around her to catch her in the act of beginning to dig, or beginning to chew, and I corrected right away. If she did something that I missed, I simply cleaned it up and made a note to myself to pay closer attention in the future.

• Reward, first with treats, then with praise and love. I have to admit to being a little skeptical of the idea of *baiting*, which is what reward with treats is, but it works. But the important thing is to graduate from the treats to praise as quickly as possible. I've done a lot of positive reinforcement.

• Correct mistakes in a way that your dog will understand. The best trick I ever learned about is the squirt bottle, which a cat friend suggested. I still have it, but I really just have to hold it to make her stop barking. Interestingly enough, she knows that when she stops barking that she is no danger of being squirted. I can be standing there *point blank* and she is fine. Yelling, and shouting, etc., when your dog is barking just encourages more barking. I think they think you're joining in. I pick up the squirt bottle and calmly say, *no barking*. That being said, dachshunds bark. Every time she runs out of her doggy door, she barks. But it has to stop just about right away. Our motto here is *it's OK to get upset, but you have to get over it*.

• Provide chew bars. Dachshund love to chew. I always keep plenty of rawhide chew *bones* around. Chewing calms them down, makes them feel better. Macintosh knows what to chew, and what not to chew.

A yapping little dog is a miserable thing to have around the house, and in the neighborhood. And when I hear uncontrolled barking from a dog, it's the dog's safety that I worry about. I had a neighbor who boasted that *the cops couldn't do anything* and *just let someone come over and confront him*. He's a friend of mine, so when I mentioned that someone may hurt the dog, he re-thought his belligerent position. It's a terrible thought, but people do hurt dogs. So your behavior can put your dog at risk.

And there you go. Yes, you can combine a garden, and a beautiful home, with a dachshund. Just like everything else in life, think positive, and keep improving!
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