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Thread: penning?? yes or no

  1. #1

    Default penning?? yes or no

    Hi guys need some help, i have had a trainer come round to help me with a digging problem we have. i have done everything he has told me to do and shelled out big bucks, this was a week ago and the digging hasn't stoppped it has almost gotten a bit worse.
    now the trainer has suggested penning her! he has no other idea what to do, as i have changed her diet tried training her out of it she has toys and things to keep her occu[pied etc. walks, attention she is inside at night and when we are home.

    now this penning i am ment to do it for 23hrs a day 7 days a week for 3 weeks, she is allowed out for 30 minutes for lead training and 30 mins for food, i DO NOT want to do this but i am out of options.
    I do not understand how it is ment to work though as the trainer hasn't really explained much.

    what does everyone think if this idea? has anyone tried it with success or should i be reportinghim to RSPCA?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
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    Marsden QLD
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    Before u do anything ask this trainer how he expects this to work and why he is giving you this advice IMO he is a dog trainer and if this is the only advice he can give u because has nothing else to offer in the way of solutions for your dog then he sucks at what he does and I would go looking for another dog trainer to help u!! There is no way I would pen my dog up for that long its just not fair IMO and how will it teach her anything ?

    I'm sure there are people on here that can offer u more advice!!

  3. #3
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    Penning is an old-school training method. Not my cup of tea, and certainly not for the time periods you are describing. However it can be used effectively if the handler understands what is the ultimate goal. Frankly, I cant see it working to train your dog not to dig... though it will stop the digging.

    One week is not enough to modify a behaviour- especially not an instinctive behaviour such as digging. Behaviour modification needs to be done in an organised, structured way- and often the behaviour does get worse before it improves- that is a natural consequence of trying to change a behaviour that has previously offered some type of reward.

    Are you able to give us more information about the digging, Sandyharley? The methods you have tried so far, for how long, how your dog responds etc? I cant really offer too much advice based on your previous post.
    Last edited by Villain & Flirtt; 01-16-2012 at 12:00 PM. Reason: typos

  4. #4
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    What breed is your dog and how old?

  5. #5
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    I don't know why he suggests penning her for that long? Maybe the reasoning behind it is that digging is self-rewarding - which I'm sure it is - and that she will forget about it if you don't give her a chance? I can see the logic behind it, but I don't believe there is a guarantee that it would work and there is no way I'd be doing that to my dog either. I don't think it is a reason to report him though.

    One thing that you could try is to give her access to the house when you are out too. I often think that dogs who are left outside only when their owners leave could feel like they are getting a double whammy. Not only do they miss you when you leave but on top of that they cannot go inside. It's as if they are getting punished for you leaving.

    That has been my strategy with my dogs anyway. And my current dog - who is still only young - does still get a bit destructive when I'm not home (no digging, chewing stuff), but I decided to always leave the backdoor open for her when I leave to minimise the disruption to her life when I leave.

    If you do a search on this site on 'digging' you might find some handy tips too.

  6. #6

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    thanks for the replys guys,

    Villain & Flirtt in reply to your post the digging is BAD. and i have tried everything, filling holes with poop, other toys, long walks morning and night, seperating our yard to keep damamge minimal, chook wire, a pool, a sand pit, bones, any thing you can mention i have tried it.

    She is a staffy x and she is 3 and a half. she has a brother who is 2 and he has had this training also and he started digging his first hole on the weekend after the trainer came around. which he has never done before. i am just upset as this training company have said they can fix ANY problem, yet his solutions to the digging were minimal and things i had already done. i paid $440 for 2 sessions and if there are further problems they keep coming back until it is fixed but i don't like this solution i feel awful putting her in a cage for 3 weeks i have tried it and all she did for 4 hours was cry. she had water and toys in there. and was in full shade.

  7. #7
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    If you think there is any value in the method - and I really don't have the knowledge to form an opinion on this - how about locking her in the house instead of in a pen?

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Thanks Sandyharley,

    I dont like the sound of this trainer. Firstly it seems super expensive, and the followup is IMHO... lacking.

    Bear with me while I give you an example;

    My dog, when 6 months old, used to scratch at the door to get let inside. The stupid doof here on the keyboard used to let him in when he scratched

    (Big Mistake).

    Once he grew bigger, I decided I didnt like him scratching at the door (and I didnt always want to let him in each time he did), so I stopped letting him in when he did it. The result was that the scratching became worse- immediately. If my dog could talk it would go something like this:

    Me: "Vill, why are you scratching harder than before?"
    Villain: "Well, because scratching at the door always gets me let inside (reward). Its not working for me at the minute, so I must not be doing it hard enough for you to notice"

    So, the scratching got worse and worse and worse as my dog tried harder and harder to achieve the goal. And I sat inside thinking what a complete idiot I was and wondering how long before the door disintegrated completely.

    See, the scratching obtained something the dog liked. So he was motivated to keep at it because he had been trained (by me) that this was the method to achieve the goal.

    So I then needed to train Villain to do a new behaviour- something he could not do whilst scratching- that would achive the desired goal. I taught him to sit quietly. Sitting quietly now got him let inside (always). After a time, I began phasing this out to sitting quietly gets you let inside at random times. The end result is he does a great deal of sitting quietly, and the behaviour is maintained and strengthened because he is rewarded for it on a random or variable schedule. (Think why people get addicted to poker machines- same concept- random, variable rewards keep you putting in the coins in hope of a jackpot).

    So, the question you need to answer is: what reward is digging giving my dog? Digging in and of itself is often very rewarding just in the action. Dogs dig. It's instinctive. It's fun, it can create a cool place to lie down, it can be to chase bugs in the grass, it can relieve bordom. Terrier breeds often dig because it is in their "history" to dig, rat and ferret.

    Therefore, sometimes one cannot STOP digging, and sometimes one needs to learn to live with digging. Other times, it can be a behaviour which can be modified (like my dog at the door- I replaced the door at the end of it all, BTW). If the dog is doing it for the above reasons, one needs to adapt the environment to deal with the digging, if it is some other reward, say, attention, then one can modify the behaviour through training.

    But, dont forget, training takes time- one week is far, far, far from being enough. And, as a trainer, in no way would I be saying "pen your dog" if the first strategies diod not work within a week!

    That said, I am a bit flummoxed as to why your other dog started digging right after the consult.

    Are you able to share what the trainer recommended you do to stop the digging?

    I see you have already tried the things I would normally suggest- but how long have you tried them for? Did anything work in the short term? Were there any strategies that worked less?

    Have you considered creating a "run" area that is either a) on concrete or b) where you can live with holes? Your dog only needs to be in that space when you are unable to supervise- and it does prevent digging everywhere.

  9. #9

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    We have seperated the yard into a dog yard and a good yard. she can do whatever she wishes in that part but now she has decided to jump the fence we have up so she now gets into the good yard :-(. We have spent close on $10k with the back yards to seperate them and redo them as the whole lawn needed new grass as she destroyed the whole 80 square meters. my partner understanably was in pieces when we got home and she had decided to dig 6 new holes in the grass after the trainer was over.
    the trainer recommended changing her diet (i amlready give her what he was suggesting) so didn't need to make that change. and the only other thing was that i continue with his "method" and the digging should "stop" as when i am the leader i train her. which i know it has been a week but i have seen NO change in her behaviours as all. and he have now got new holes and she won't stop jumping the fence and the other dog has started digging.

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    OK, so I my next question is; How high is the fence she is jumping?

    Are you able to scrounge up a few more $$ to put either a roof on, or angled wire at the top of the fence to prevent jumping (45 degree angle inward to create a "semi-roof" around the perimeter)

    I really empathise- it's so hard to spend so much and find it does not work! You would be astonished the heights some dogs can jump, too.

    I'm still confused as to the trainer's "method". Can I ask specifically, what are the steps? If you have signed a confidentialty waiver, I understand, but I am just not getting a clear picture of what he wanted you to do to "fix" it.

    Sorry for all the questions- it is so hard to do this online, usually I would spend quite a few hours gathering info before recommending anything to a client.

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