Give yourself a break, and your dog a job!

Let your plans to plant this year be helped by your pet! We were sent this beautiful picture of Bella, the German Shepherd being fostered by the Campbells while her Air National Guard daddy is in training. You can see how tall and proud Bella stands next to the bounty that she has just helped her mom harvest with her natural canine talent — digging! Give your foster pet a job this fall, and give yourself a break, by letting them do your digging for you.

Many of us will be digging up our root vegetables this fall. Potatoes, carrots, beets, garlic, turnips, and radishes are all great vegetables to let your pup pull out for you! Be careful with parsnips and rutabagas, as their root length makes them easier to break when digging up, and may not be dog-paw appropriate. Remember to give your helpful hound a carrot to munch, they’re great (and healthy) treats!

Fall planting is another great way to get your dog involved. Dividing of perennials is best done in the fall, so let your pup dig them up! Many people let their pup lend a paw planting bulbs for spring like garlic and daffodil – show your dog where to dig, and follow behind to place the bulbs (and to give him a treat when he’s done!). Daylilies, Irises, and Peonies are also great to plant in the fall, ensuring beautiful blooms in six months. And my favorite — picking a new tree, and having your foster friend dig the hole to welcome the new addition to the garden!

While many people are loathe to remind their dog how fun it is to dig, it can be a great way to work of excess energy for your furry friend, and also helps to wear their claws down with time. It’s a good idea to start the process with commands – “dig here,” – and teach them when to stop as well – “no dig.” If your pup insists on getting his paws dirty even when he’s not being helpful, make your pooch a little sand pit in the corner of your yard and bury bones/treats there, and teach them that it is OK to dig in some places but not others. And as always, keep up the positivity (and treats!) when your dog does things you do want to see in your yard, like playing, sleeping, or relaxing. For more great ways to control where your wolf shows off his digging skills, check out http://www.petful.com/behaviors/stop-dog-digging-yard/.

So this year, instead of letting your arm get tired between the trowel and the tennis ball, let your little wolf do the work instead. Their paws are well-suited for digging and it helps pooch feel valued to do something that helps. Praise them well, and they’ll reward you with a bountiful harvest! What are your favorite fall crops, or ways to let your pup help out in the garden?

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It turns out that German Shepherds also make fabulous farmers! Foster pup, Bella, went to the farm with her PACT Foster Family this weekend. The Campbell’s have been fostering Bella for a month, helping her and her dad, George, while he trains with the Air National Guard. During the farm trip, Bella helped her Foster Family in return by digging out that box of potatoes in record speed. Her foster mom is now thrilled to have a little farm helper around! Like her dad, Bella is very devoted to her family and eager to help them whenever she can. Maybe a PACT Foster Pet would be helpful to have around as we put in those fall vegetables! If you would like to offer other awesome Shepherds (or PACT Pets In Need) a safe place to stay while their owners are away, please fill out a Foster Family Application at http://pactforanimals.org/help/foster/.

You can learn more about Bella and her story at her Foster page here: https://pactforanimals.org/fosters/bella-4