Does your pup have a problem eating everything? You’re not alone. Puppies are notorious for getting themselves into trouble, and eating everything from grass to rocks is often the biggest issue owners must deal with during the early years.
While some dogs grow out of it, others don’t.
It can quickly get out of hand if you fail to address your pup’s strange eating habits. Not only will they destroy non-edible objects, but their behavior could eventually earn them a trip to the vet.
If you’re pulling your hair out trying to find ways to stop your puppy from scarfing down things they aren’t supposed to, you’ve come to the right place.
Why Do Puppies Eat Everything?
To end your puppy’s unhealthy eating habits, you must understand where those urges start.
Puppies are an enigma. While we often think of them as lovable doofs, a lot is going on in that furry head.
Getting a better idea of why dogs eat random items can help you develop a plan to put an end to it once and for all.
Sheer Curiosity and Exploration
The biggest reason why most puppies start eating random things they find around your home is because they’re curious.
Dogs explore the world much differently than humans do. They rely on their sense of smell and their ability to taste. Their mouths do a lot of the heavy lifting.
But here’s the thing about puppies: They don’t know any better. Unlike adult dogs that learn what’s acceptable to eat and what’s not, puppies are entering the world with a blank slate.
Your pup has no life experience to draw on when their curiosity takes over.
So that random stick they find in the backyard or the garbage they rummage through in your home looks good enough to eat!
They don’t know that it’s not safe or acceptable. Puppies haven’t learned those things yet, and it’s up to you to teach them.
Through trial and error, some dogs will begin to understand what they can and can’t eat. Unfortunately, some dogs learn what’s not safe the hard way.
Boredom is another common cause of oddball eating habits. This causation factor is more psychological and can turn into something worse if you don’t address it.
Dogs can get bored without mental stimulation or opportunities to unleash their energy. This usually occurs when you’re away at work all day or don’t have much time to spend with your pup.
You’re essentially leaving your young dog to its own devices. It’s like asking them to get into trouble!
In some cases, dogs will develop stress and anxiety.
Separation anxiety is more common in young pups than in adult dogs. They feel uncomfortable being alone and will turn to eating random objects as a coping mechanism.
Dogs of any age will eat grass when they’re experiencing stomach problems.
The plant cellulose in grass acts like a fiber cleanse. It helps absorb excess liquid and provides much-needed relief when it goes through the system.
This behavior is instinctive for dogs. Puppies will start doing it relatively young. The best thing you can do is keep an eye on your pup’s stool. Diarrhea and digestive troubles are common in developing puppies.
Fortunately, the symptoms typically subside after a day or two.
Have you ever considered that your puppy is eating grass and plants because of dietary issues? This scenario is more common than you might think!
Puppies are still learning about their developing bodies. They might not know what’s going on internally, but they can sense when their diet isn’t giving them enough to stay healthy.
If the food you provide doesn’t offer the right amount of vitamins and nutrients, many puppies will resort to whatever they can find to supplement their diet.
The most accessible food item they can get is grass and plants.
If you see your puppy eating grass, it may be time to reevaluate its diet and make the necessary changes.
Hidden Tastes and Smells
Have you caught your puppy eating sand or dirt yet? If not, it’s only a matter of time.
Many young pups will scarf down dirt like delicious food, leaving you nothing short of puzzled. But why?
Typically, it’s because there’s something tasty hidden beneath. We say “tasty” loosely.
To a young pup, anything that gives off a strong smell is something they want to put in their mouths. Unfortunately, that even includes animal droppings!
Puppies have a stronger sense of smell than you do. Even if you don’t see or smell anything, your furry friend may be determined to get whatever they’re detecting. If that means eating some dirt, so be it!
Finally, puppies can eat things they’re not supposed to because of a condition called Pica.
Pica is a mental problem that causes dogs to eat non-food items compulsively. It could be the reason why your dog is getting into your trash and chewing on random objects they find.
Many dogs with Pica will also eat rocks, twigs, and objects they encounter outside. Pica is a serious condition that can stay with a puppy well into adulthood.
It dramatically increases the risks of choking and could negatively impact your pup’s health in many ways.
If you suspect Pica is to blame for your dog’s behavior, visit a vet as soon as possible. Treating this condition will require professional assistance from your vet and a behavioralist.
What You Can Do To Stop Your Dog
The key to ending this annoying habit is to teach your dog what’s right and what’s not.
But before you even begin training, make your home as puppy-proof as possible. That means putting things away and locking objects with high choking risk under lock and key.
Treat your puppy like a baby and prepare for all worst-case scenarios. Then, make sure that your puppy has all the essentials.
Choose a high-quality puppy formula that meets their dietary needs. If you’re in doubt, consult with your vet for feeding guidance. Don’t stop there.
Make time for your dog to be active and socialized. Play with them, go for walks, have fun at the dog park, etc. A well-rounded dog doesn’t spend all day cooped up at home or in a kennel.
Let your puppy be free and have fun! You’ll be surprised by how much this tip alone makes a difference.
Use The “No” Command
Taking care of the basics can greatly minimize your dog’s unwanted eating habits. But they still may try to chew on things every once in a while.
When they do, deliver a firm “no” command. You don’t have to yell or scare your dog. But you should be firm and cement your status as the alpha.
Have a distraction on hand to pull focus immediately after delivering your warning. Invest in plenty of safe chew toys your dog can direct its attention towards.
When they learn to choose toys over objects, provide plenty of positive reinforcement.
Be vigilant about correcting your dog’s behavior, and don’t hesitate to contact professionals if you need help. Teaching your dog what’s acceptable and not acceptable to eat can ensure that they leave this unwanted eating habit behind.
Ending Bad Habits
It’s important to keep an eye on your puppy and correct behavior whenever needed. But don’t be too hard on them! A puppy’s curiosity can be frustrating, but it’s up to you to teach them what’s right.
Keep up with your training, employ positive reinforcement techniques, and support your dog as they learn and grow.