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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 23831
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 44 years of experience
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My 13 yo yellow lab mix dog is insisting on going out in the

Customer Question

My 13 yo yellow lab mix dog is insisting on going out in the back and digging. He had already gone potty and is usually in for the night after that. But he insisted on going out again and started digging. I stopped him and brought him back in and he is just standing here huffing and trying to get me to let him back out.
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the dog's name and age?
Customer: Sydney 13 yo
JA: How old is Sydney?
Customer: 13 yo
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Sydney?
Customer: I don't know. His routine is pretty set. and this is quite odd behavior for him.
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Veterinarian about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 months ago.

I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner and I regret that my state board of veterinary examiners doesn't allow me to speak to customers by phone in this venue but other experts in this category may be able to assist you in this regard. Please let me know if you'd like another expert to do so and I'll opt out of this conversation. Please stay in the conversation if you wish.

Digging may be a nuisance but it is an innate trait for many dogs. Some breeds may dig holes that provide a cool place for them to lie. Some dogs use digging as a way to escape confinement or the digging represents an activity similar to destructive chewing that occurs when young dogs are left alone without sufficient stimulation. When dogs become house pets, they often need to leave natural tendencies behind, such as digging, if they are to be good home companions. Most dogs have little problem with this compromise as long as they have sufficient stimulation elsewhere in their lives. Some dogs, however, may continue to dig despite other adequate stimulation, to escape or simply because digging is fun. Understimulated and underexercised dogs may dig as a recreational event. The prognosis varies considerably with the underlying cause. A young dog or intact male with a strong motivation to roam may see digging as providing freedom; these dogs are very frustrating to control. For these cases, keeping the dog indoors in a safe, destruction-proof area or providing a confinement area where the dog is unable to dig to escape may be the only viable alternative. Environmental enrichment is most indicated for those dogs that dig because they have no acceptable alternative. Whenever the pet is left outdoors unsupervised, it is important to attempt to provide an appealing alternative activity to distract and occupy it. This distraction may include large balls to push around or wooden boxes and ramps on which to crawl and explore. Large rubber toys can be stuffed with treats, tied to ropes and suspended from tree limbs for some dogs. The success in enriching the environment is variable and may be negligible for some pets. Increased activity, such as vigorous physical exercise (fetch, jogging, speed walking) provided two or more times daily, may help reduce the amount of time digging. Another option is to provide a sand/soil digging pit with partially buried toys and "chews" to encourage digging in one area instead of many. Adding another pet may be helpful but you might end up with two pets that dig and therefore twice the damage. When dogs are digging to create a cool respite, they may stop if given a cool, shaded area or a wading pool is provided where they can cool off. Dogs that are digging as a response to fearful stimuli may enjoy the comfort and security of a doghouse or other forms of shelter. For some dogs, confinement in a secure pen or run may be the best treatment plan. Consider the onset of Sundowner's syndrome - a form of cognitive dysfunction (senility) in which the dark and quiet of nightime accentuates the sensory deprivation often associated with senility. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish. Not all of the above will apply to Sydney, of course, but perhaps something above will ring a bell.

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