My Dog Eats Everything
Author: Alina Andreeva
Alina Andreeva is a writer, editor, and pet-lover. She has published over 20 articles on how to care for pets properly. Alina has been writing articles for 3 years, so she has considerable experience in this niche. Her natural curiosity helps her to expand her knowledge and learn new pet care life hacks, which will make your life much easier.View all 23 articles Learn about our editorial process
Updated on: 19/05/2020
It is not an easy task to break a dog’s habit of picking up food and other objects from the ground – most owners face this problem. At the first opportunity, your dog will run to the garbage and not respond to your calls. Keeping the animal home 24/7 is not an option. In this case, there is a concern: how to wean a dog from picking up everything in the street.
Why do dogs eat anything and everything?
Dogs are domestic animals. But there was a time when instinct helped dogs to adjust to a wild, hazardous world. The habit of sniffing something edible and tasting a find allowed dogs to survive. Now our pets sleep on cozy couches and eat tasty and quality food from beautiful bowls, but they still have their former instincts. This is the reason why dogs try to eat different, nasty food (from the owners’ point of view) straight from the ground. For a dog, this is a suddenly discovered tasty treasure – which means a way to survive! Also, eating “garbage” (grass, wool, feathers, etc.) provokes vomiting and cleanses the dog’s stomach.
While instinct is the main reason why dogs pick up edible and non-edible things from the ground, there may be other reasons:
- Lack of vitamins and enzymes
- Tooth issues
Therefore, before you start to wean a dog from its nasty habit, it is better to go to a veterinarian. Maybe your dog just needs a diet change.
Why do dogs eat grass?
Many dog owners notice that their pet eats grass during a walk. Dogs are predators, but at the same time, they like to eat green, fresh grass, just like goats and horses. Why are they doing this? Various organizations have conducted research but have not come to certain conclusions. Among owners and breeders, there are several popular opinions.
- By eating grass, dogs make up for a lack of vitamins. Plants are rich in vitamins and useful substances, but in a dog’s stomach, there are no enzymes appropriate for their digestion. Therefore, a dog’s stomach cannot absorb beneficial substances from herbs. After eating grass, a dog either vomits or is excreted in undigested form.
- Dogs eat grass to cleanse their stomach. Many believe that grass is the irritant that allows the dog to induce vomiting and get rid of undigested particles of food and bile. This theory has not been fully proven, but it may be closest to the truth, and dogs eat grass in situations in which their owner would drink activated charcoal.
What to do if my dog eats grass?
Carefully monitor what kind of grass the dog eats. Do not let it eat anything treated with pesticides or fertilizers. The packaging for most gardening products indicates whether they are safe for pets.
You can also contact a good trainer or zoopsychologist. The specialist will tell you a lot of useful information regarding your dog. Each individual pet has its own personality, and different breeds have their own distinctions.
Why do dogs eat mud?
Eating non-edible things is called pica. For example, ingesting mud can be a sign of pica.
Let’s look at the possible causes in more detail.
- Bad food. Your dog may eat clay and mud if it searches for minerals or vitamins that its diet lacks. The reason may be a dry and unbalanced diet.
- Chronic diseases. Eating mud may be the result of inflammatory bowel disease or hypothyroidism.
- Such delicious mud. A less serious reason is the desire of your dog to eat something tasty, whether it is the enticing smell of bacon slices or hamburger remnants that may have been left behind from a recent basket picnic.
- Lack of training. People tend to acquire peculiar habits to fight against stress or boredom – winding hair, crunching joints, overeating, and others. It is the same with animals. Dogs are very active and energetic creatures, but sometimes they cannot satisfy their needs; for example, if a large breed dog spends all day at home alone, what does it have to entertain itself? Why not dig into the garbage?
- Indigestion. Eating mud sounds pretty nasty. But, in fact, some types of dirt help cleanse the body of toxins. Perhaps on an instinctive level, dogs are trying to deal with digestive problems and cleansing the body by eating dirt. If so, this is not so bad.
- According to some veterinarians, dogs eat mud to stimulate the digestive tract and instinctively search for substances that will improve their work. Dirt can act as an abrasive and cleanse the intestines.
How do I get my dog to stop chewing and eating everything?
- Develop behavior skills. Six months is the best age to start training your pet, but you need to impart behavior skills from the first weeks of its life. Do not let your dog eat from the ground. Teach it to eat from a bowl in a designated place. If you let the pet eat food from the floor, it will behave the same on the street.
- Train the “take it” and “drop it” commands. To teach a puppy the “take it” command, hold it for a moment in front of a bowl of food, then command “take it” and relax the grip on the dog. The goal is to teach the dog to start eating only after your approval. The “drop it” command is crucial for a dog. You must give a command at the moment when the dog is about to take something from the ground and divert its attention – but do not apply physical force. For example, you can call it by its name or distract it with a toy.
- Use the “leave it” command on a walk. If the dog reaches for something edible, the command “leave it!” No reaction? We apply physical impact: a short, not strong (!) jerk with the leash to the side, at the same time commanding again, “leave it!”. Do not abuse commands. If you shout “leave it” all the time, the dog will stop responding. Use the command when you really need it.
- Distract the dog. And here is the best and most effective advice: play with the dog more. A pet keen on playing with its beloved owner is unlikely to notice anything else at all.
- Choose safe places. You never know where you can face danger. However, on a specialized site for walking, the chances of meeting it are much less than in the littered areas of the neighborhood.
What shouldn’t I do?
A dog is a man’s best friend. You can and should train it. In some cases, you cannot do without severities. But be careful not to apply savage measures. They will not bring the expected effect and may also ruin your relationship with your pet. These measures include:
- Stun collars
- Spreading mustard or other hot seasonings on treats (this can cause a burn of the mucous membrane or an allergic reaction).
You should not give a reward treat to your dog if it did not pick up food from the ground. It can feel the pattern and begin to portray an interest in the garbage in order to receive its treat.
What to do if nothing helps?
Any rule has exceptions. Sometimes, no matter how hard the owner tries, the dog will still pick up something from the ground. For such cases, there are special muzzles-nets. They protect the dog from poisoning, while not restricting the movements of the pet during the walk (and are easy to clean from dirt).
No matter how naughty your four-legged friend is, remember that the main thing for it is your attention. If possible, spend more time on games, training and other activities while walking. The dog will forget its bad habits and will delight you with good behavior throughout its life.
The bottom line
You can correct the food addictions of your pet at any age. If you make enough effort and start training your dog, there is a chance of weaning it from picking up anything from the ground. Constant exercises will help to change its behavior for the better.
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