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

August 21, 2016

Sharing the garden with a dog that's bred to dig

If you have a garden, having a dog in it can be a disaster. Dogs tend to trample on plants, or chew them, or (especially if your dog is a dachshund), dig. The dachshund was bred to dig. Go Google it, I'll wait.

So it sometimes surprises people to see that I share my garden with a dachshund. She's been here for almost eleven years now, and no, she doesn't trample on the plants, or chew them, or dig. And that's because what's an even stronger instinctive for our canine friends than digging, or chewing, or anything else, is pleasing us. Aren't dogs wonderful!

From the time Macintosh, the good little wiener dog, was a puppy, I showed her what I wanted her to do. If she did something that I disapproved of, I let her know. Gently. There was no reason to be harsh, she was just trying to figure out what she could do to please me. So I reinforced positive behavior, and if she did something wrong (like starting to dig) I would let her know. And she was so sensitive to what I wanted, she would often just look at me, and I would look at her and make a small sound, and that was enough.

She also doesn't chew on anything, like plants, or my furniture. Yes, she loves to chew, so I always made sure that she had plenty of rawhide bones to chew on. I bought them by the bagful. Dogs chew. Give them what you want them to chew on, and they'll chew that.

So, while a dachshund may not sound like a good idea for a garden, since they're bred to dig, and they chew, there is one aspect that really works - she's tiny. And that means that she can get plenty of exercise running around my small suburban backyard. Her legs are two inches long (well, the back ones are almost three inches long) so she can really "stretch her legs" in my backyard. I will sometimes exercise her in the house, using a flashlight (which she dearly loves) but mostly she patrols the backyard, searching for lizards (I call them geckos, because it's a funny name) and when she sees one, she moves like lighting!

I like gardens. And I like dogs. And they both respond to same thing - love and attention.
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