Stones, rocks, and dirt are probably the last things you want your puppy to chew on. While curiosity plays a big role in eating stones, it’s definitely not normal behavior and might become dangerous when the rocks are actually swallowed.
To eliminate the problem, you will first have to determine whether it has a medical or behavioral cause. Your puppy may grow out of this behavior but appropriate training will eventually be necessary.
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 just stones and dirt but also toys, jewelry, coins, pencils and many more that
This can quickly develop in
Early intervention is very important to prevent pica from become a chronic disease. There are several training approaches that I will go further into below.
Young puppies are extremely curious and want to explore their environment all day. Chewing and mouthing on things provides a puppy with plenty of information and increases the scent perception.
Supervision will be mandatory to quickly intervene with accidental swallowing. My dog used to be very mouth oriented as a puppy so you had to be very alert during walks. After a few weeks, the young 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 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 would be stones or 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.
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 into 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 got 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.
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, for example, if you have a stone path laid out then you will have to always 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 removing the nonfood objects from its 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.
Teaching your dog the commands “leave it” and “drop it”
“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 order 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!