What to Do with Puppies Eating Rocks and Sticks
Is your boxer or English bulldog puppy eating rocks and sticks? If so, don’t let this conduct continue and become a habit. While it may seem fairly innocent, puppies can have issues digesting this material. In a worst case scenario, you could end up paying for surgery to get a rock or pointy stick out of your little puff ball.
First off, understand this is an extremely common problem. My lab pup used to chomp onto any kind of branch she could fine. My boyfriend’s boxer – Ralph – seemed to have a bad rock habit and listening to him use the bathroom was…unpleasant. Fortunately, you can usually fix this conduct without too much fuss.
Step 1. Supervised Outdoor Visits
You have a yard. Your idea is to let the puppy out in the yard so it can play around and develop its independence.
Slam the brakes on this notion!
You need to first train your puppy to deal with things outdoors. This isn’t even just about eating rocks and sticks. If you live in an area with snakes, you should train your puppy to recognize the risk and how to deal with it. I live in an area with rattle snakes. Nice. If a dog is bit, it costs roughly $3,500 to get them treated. This assumes you get them to the vet on time. In short, you still need to train a puppy to handle its surroundings even if it is just the backyard.
Step 2. Obedience Training
Puppies are easy to train if you are willing to be disciplined with the rules and repeat the lessons over and over. For example, you should adopt specific commands your dog can understand as good and bad. Some owners say “Stop! or No!” when their pup does something wrong, and “Good Boy! or Good Girl!” for their dog doing the right thing. Don’t yell. Just say the words firmly. The point is to train the pup, not scare it.
Now it is time to hit the backyard. At first, you want to walk around the backyard with a loose leash so your puppy can explore. Just let them go wherever they like. As they come to certain items, make sure to encourage or warn them as necessary. If they start scarfing down rocks, then the negative command must be used and the rocks removed from their mouth. You have to be strict with the way you train and make sure you praise just as well as you scold. This means that if your dog does put that stick or rock down, praise them and give them a treat.
As the pup gets the hang of what they can and cannot eat, take the leash off and let them roam around the backyard on their own. Stand in one area and watch them. If they go for a stick or rock, give the negative command. Compliance should be met with hardy praise. If they don’t comply, walk calmly to the dog and take the rock/stick out of their mouth while repeating the command. They will get the hang of it after a few sessions and eventually you will be able to let them out in the backyard on their own.
It is critical that the command words be consistent across all people in your family. If you use the term “off” to tell your pup to get off of furniture or stop jumping on people, then your significant other and kids need to also use this word. If everyone uses different terminology, you are going to end up with one confused puppy.
Step 3. Discipline
Training your puppy can feel like raising a baby. It actually is in some ways. You have to closely watch them to make sure they are learning from their mistakes. Puppies are pure evil in that they are so unbelievably cute. Disciplining them can often feel like a crime against nature. Don’t fall for this temptation. You must be tough and stick with the training.
Yes, I am talking about discipline. It can be tough to stick with training a pup, particularly since you often have so much more going on in your life. If you need a bit of motivation, simply write out a check for $2,000 or so to an imaginary vet. This is what surgery on your puppy might run if they need something removed from their digestive track. Consider it your motivation for being strict and disciplined!
Fortunately for you, puppies learn fast and they are obedient if you keep up with your training techniques. Stick with it for a few weeks and your pup will stop eating sticks and rocks. Once this happens, you can rip up your imaginary check for the vet.