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How can I get my dog to stop eating rocks?

asked 2016-02-24 10:14:50 -0600

I have a new daycare dog, a 3 year old boarder collie mix, who is an absolute sweet heart. He was very obedient except for one issue: he kept sneaking off to eat rocks!

There is a small patch of pea gravel in our yard and several times he picked up a pebble and tried chewing on it! He did it when it was just me and also when his owner was present. His owner said this is a problem she hasn't had any luck correcting. I think I can get him to eventually leave that area of my yard alone (though he tries to be very sneaky about it) but even if I get him under control in my own yard I worry that it's not correcting the problem overall and I'm worried about the damage he could do to his teeth. Any thoughts?

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Always have treats on you when walking your dog. Whenever your dog is about to eat a rock and get his attention on you. Give him a treat when he's paying attention to you and it will take a while for him to get the hang of it. This is teaching the dog that whenever I see a rock i don't eat it because I am going to get a treat for it.

Febby C.'s profile image Febby C.  ( 2016-02-28 18:57:32 -0600 ) edit

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answered 2016-02-24 11:36:52 -0600

Hi Angelene:

Although I don't have an answer to your question, I did find an interesting article on the subject here: http://www.dogingtonpost.com/why-is-m...

Has the owner talked to their vet about the rock eating? I don't blame you for being worried about this behavior! I hope you find the answer soon!

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Thank you!

Angelene G.'s profile image Angelene G.  ( 2016-02-25 16:37:58 -0600 ) edit
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answered 2017-03-01 06:02:07 -0600

I completely understand your concerns. Eating rocks or any other sort of foreign object is a good way for them to catch a disease/parasite, or chip their teeth, but most concerning, it is a good way to get an abdominal obstruction which many times requires surgery.

Because of that, I will be very honest with you. Getting the pup to curb this habit is going to be a long tricky process that will require a lot of patience and training on your (and the owners) part. First and foremost, you must never leave the dog outside where they can reach the rocks unsupervised. With that, it is important that you always have treats/toys or whatever the dog enjoys most. Every time the dog reaches for a rock, you will give your command (drop/leave/watch or whatever you would like) for them to leave the rock alone and instead focus on you. When they do this successfully, give them their prize and lots of praise. The key part, you must do this every single time.

I know its tedious, and doesn't necessarily mean that it will work for good, sometimes once a dog settles on a behavior it can be nearly impossible to change it, but it is the only way.

Best of luck!

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