Stones, rocks, and dirt are probably the last things you want your puppy to chew on. Why do dogs eat stones in the first place?
While curiosity plays a big role in eating stones, it’s definitely not desirable and might become dangerous when your pup actually swallows the rocks.
You will first have to determine whether it has a medical or behavioral cause. Your puppy can grow out of this behavior but appropriate training is the safest bet nonetheless.
How do you eliminate this unhealthy behavior?
To stop your puppy from eating stones you need to counter-condition and show your dog what to do instead.
If your dog has a nutrient deficiency, you need to switch to a high-quality diet and rule out other medical issues.
Pica in Dogs
Pica is a medical issue in which dogs crave nonfood or non-nutritive items.
The list of items is not limited to stones and dirt but also toys, jewelry, coins, pencils, and many other objects that
This can quickly develop in
Possbile causes for Pica include:
- Extreme nutritional deficiencies
- Play solicitation
- OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder)
- Brain lesions
Early intervention is very important to prevent pica from becoming a chronic disease. There are several training approaches that I explain further below to prevent any bad habits.
Young puppies are extremely curious and want to explore their environment all day.
Chewing and mouthing things provide a puppy with plenty of information and increases the scent perception.
Supervision will be mandatory to quickly intervene in case your dog accidentally swallows something.
My dog used to be very mouth oriented as a puppy, so you had to be very alert during walks. After a few weeks, your puppy should grow out of that curiosity.
Because pica and curiosity are not easy to differentiate, an appointment with the vet should be able to rule out any underlying medical issues that would need to be treated.
A dog that is bored will get into all kinds of behavior habits like digging, excessive vocalization, or chewing.
This mostly happens in dogs that are left outside in the yard alone for an extended period of time.
With nothing to do, your dog will quickly get into digging up the grass or chewing on stones.
To solve this problem, you can read my guide on 12 boredom busters that will keep your dog entertained in the yard.
Make sure that your dog has plenty of physical
Puppies love to get engaged with a
Puppies need lots of calories and proteins for optimal growth. An unbalanced diet may have serious consequences.
Your dog will try to get his nutrients from somewhere else, whatever that will be – stones or even feces.
Talk to your vet about your dog’s nutrition and which diet would be best suited for him.
Dog food specifically formulated for puppies should provide him with everything he needs.
Check out this raw diet article if you’re interested in transitioning your pup (best decision I ever made with my dog).
What Happens If a Dog Eats Stones
Eating stones can become pretty dangerous for a dog or puppy. The sharp edges of stones could break teeth and injure the digestive tract.
The results of this would be diarrhea, vomiting, pain, and even internal bleeding.
Your dog could suffocate if he chews on multiple stones at a time.
If any of the above symptoms happen after eating stones or your dog doesn’t feel well, take him to emergency care for surgical removal.
Will My Puppy Grow Out of It?
The older your puppy becomes, the less he will be mouth orientated, and the more he will explore his environment by simply smelling.
Typical chewing and eating behaviors may stop at around 6 months of age.
But some dogs will never grow out of it, especially if it was reinforced in the past through negative attention.
To keep your puppy safe until this age and to prevent the behavior from becoming chronic, training and prevention will be necessary.
My Rottweiler picked up all kinds of nasty stuff (as many puppies do) and that includes stones.
Fortunately, my dog never swallowed the rocks but carried them instead.
Nevertheless, I had to discourage her from picking up things for a couple of months until the behavior slowly faded.
It usually gets better as your dog ages but I wouldn’t count on it.
How to Stop a Dog from Eating Rocks
The first thing to help eliminate the problem would be to remove any stones from his environment including the house and yard.
If it’s not possible to remove all rocks (if you have a stone path, for example) then you will have to constantly supervise your dog around these objects.
Especially puppies will need to be supervised 24/7 and should never be left outside alone. During walks, pay close attention to your puppy.
Is he just smelling the roses or secretly picking up pebbles?
A young puppy can give you a hard time when you’re trying to remove the nonfood objects from his mouth.
You may want to look into a mesh muzzle like the Lepark Nylon Mesh Dog Muzzle that will prevent your dog from picking up any stones in the first play.
Follow the steps in my muzzle training guide for a proper introduction.
Teaching your dog the commands “leave it” and “drop it”
“Leave it” is for situations where you can anticipate that your dog will take something into his mouth. “Drop it” is used when objects are already in his mouth.
“Drop it” can be incorporated into a fun game of tug where your puppy will learn how to take a toy and release it again.
This will not only help with eating stones but will also get some structure into everyday play sessions.
Establishing that you are the one deciding when something is supposed to be in your dog’s mouth and when not, will help a lot. The video below will show you how to teach it:
“Leave it” will get some impulse control into your daily training and I believe that it’s mandatory to learn for every puppy and dog.
Follow the steps in the infographic below and your puppy will learn it so quickly:
Do not engage with your dog in any play involving stones, rocks, or similar objects.
Pay close attention to your dog’s stress level which might directly be correlated to his eating disorder.
Following these tips will eventually stop the behavior with the right prevention, supervision, and training. And always keep in mind to take your dog to the vet first.
Pet Deterrent Spray for Stones
Aversive conditioning can be very successful if the eating is targeted to a specific object.
Rather than punishing the behavior, it will reduce the likelihood that the dog will perform it in the first place.
If your puppy usually chews on stones, spraying something unpleasant on top of it is a form of prevention. It is important to choose a non-toxic and effective spray like this Bitter Lemon Spray for Dogs.
You may have to try a variety of different sprays as some dogs weirdly like the taste. You can also make your own pet deterrent spray with:
I would love to hear about your experiences with a puppy or dog that eats stones and how you solved that problem!