Does your puppy like to gulp down everything that comes close? Grass, twigs, rocks, wrappers, you name it, and your pup will eat it?
This can be worrying behaviour as your puppy could eat something that will upset their stomach or even something that they could choke on, so as parents we will want to question whether we can get our puppy’s to stop eating everything.
Why do puppies eat everything?
Puppies explore the world using their nose and mouth, hence why they like to smell everything they come across, and eat things they shouldn’t. They like to feel things in their mouth to get a feel for it’s texture and whether it’s safe to eat, but this behaviour could get them into some serious trouble, especially if they swallow something hard like a rock or a stone, this could lead to complications, such as poisoning or blockages.
Most puppies will outgrow the instinct to want to eat everything, but while they are young, you should be training them to avoid eating things they shouldn’t and removing any nearby objects that could endanger them if eaten.
How to stop your puppy from eating everything
The good news is that this behaviour can be corrected rather easily by following our tips below on how to stop your puppy from eating everything.
Play with your puppy
One of the main reasons why puppy’s put everything in their mouth is because they like to play with them. Therefore, increasing the playing time with your puppy will reduce the temptation to eat everything they see.
If your puppy does attempt to eat everything that surrounds them, it could be that they are bored and are looking for entertainment.
Fun, interactive games should be made a part of their daily lives so that they wouldn’t eye out on things not meant for eating. It’s also natural for the puppy to get tired from these fun activities, so they wouldn’t have the strength to eat everything they see, like branches, rocks, grass, etc. You could organise play time before taking them on a short walk, or letting them play in the garden to reduce the likelihood of them wanting to eat everything.
Playing with your puppy will also give them a chance to nibble you and use their mouth to play with toys, this will help them get an idea of different textures in their mouth and get a feel for what certain things feel and taste like. So, when they come across a harmful object, like a rock, they will understand that it shouldn’t be eaten.
Master the command of “Leave It”
Dogs are clever and will remember everything they are taught from a young age. So, it’s wise that you start teaching obedience commands like “drop it” and “leave it” to your puppy as soon as possible.
These commands will not only stop their habit of eating everything but will also help you in the long run and keep your puppy safe.
Here’s some tips to help your puppy master the “Leave it” command:
- Start by holding a treat in your palm and closing it.
- Let your pup try any means they can to get hold of the treat, i.e., licking, biting, etc.
- However, don’t submit and when your puppy does try and get hold of it, say “Leave it” very clearly.
- The main idea is to make your puppy think that if they stop going for it, something better will be rewarded
- Once your pup stops going after the treat, give them lots of praise and reward them with another treat — their favourite treat.
- Continue this process until you no longer need to hold a treat in your palm, and they respond to the “Leave it” command.
It’s also recommended to teach your puppy other basic commands, such as learning to sit, lay and stay – the more training your puppy receives, the more responsive they will be to future training.
Divert your puppies attention towards you with the “check-in” technique
To ensure your puppy doesn’t eat anything dangerous during their potty break, or when they are playing outside or on a walk, it’s best to divert their attention towards something more interesting when they attempt to eat something they shouldn’t.
One of the potential candidates of interest can be you! Through the great “check-in” technique, you can attract your puppy’s attention whenever they are up to no good.
This technique can be applied by providing your puppy with their favourite treat whenever they look at you during a walk, or when they are playing outside. Reward more treats for smaller steps, and eventually, you will succeed in grabbing their attention.
Once they’ve got the hang of it – you can introduce a word, like their name, and over time, they will respond well to their name. You can use this to your advantage when you see them eating something they shouldn’t, as you can say their name and you will divert their attention to you, and away from what they are eating. This will help prevent accidents from happening and keep them safe.
When should you worry about your puppies habit of eating everything?
If you can’t stop your puppy from eating everything in its sight, it’s best to take them to a vet. Your puppy may be suffering from a stomach ache, or a disease called Pica.
Both of these diseases will compel your pup to eat everything around, so it’s best to be on the safe side of things and get them checked out before they eat something that could cause harm.
Pica is considered a health condition that can be diagnosed by a veterinarian, and is characterized by the compulsive need to eat anything and everything, such as wood, plastic, rocks and furniture.
When shouldn’t you worry about your puppies eating habits?
Puppies aren’t perfect and they are new to the world and have much to learn, including what they should and shouldn’t eat, so it’s not uncommon to see a puppy get hold of twigs and stones when they are outside the house.
However, your puppy needs to be very careful around stones and other hard objects, as they can be serious choking hazards and if consumed, can cause complications. If you suspect that your dog has consumed something harmful, you should consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Will puppies grow out of eating everything they see?
Yes, most puppies will grow out of eating everything they see. At first, it’s a habit, as they like to feel things in their mouth to get an idea of texture, hence why puppies tend to bite us a lot, but over time, they will come to understand that not everything can be eaten, so it’s only usually a problem during the first couple of months or so.
Conclusion: How can I stop my puppy from eating everything?
Puppies are new to the world and are like children, so they will think that they can eat everything they come by, but the truth is, they can’t. Puppies grow out of this habit, but it’s important to keep a close eye on them while they are young, as they lack common sense and will simply try and eat everything in their path, including stones, twigs and other harmful things.
As a dog parent you should be there to support them throughout their puppyhood to make sure they don’t eat something they shouldn’t, but if they do, it’s usually OK, as long as it isn’t a stone or another heavy object, as this could lead to poisoning or blockages. If you suspect that you dog has eaten something harmful or poisonous (in large quantities) you should immediately contact your vet.
If you are concerned about your puppies eating habits and they have a compulsive need to eat everything, we suggest talking to your veterinarian about Pica, as your puppy could have an underlying behavioural issue.
Your veterinarian will be able to devise a suitable treatment plan for your puppy, but in most cases, puppies eating things they shouldn’t is very common and shouldn’t concern you. They will eventually grow out of this habit and learn that not everything can’t be eaten!