Put an End to Rock Eating

First off, a visit to the vet is always a good idea. If he gets a clean bill of health then we need to focus on changing his behavior and his motivation for rock eating.  Since a puppy uses his mouth as an instrument to explore his world. If he’s confined to a barren yard with little environmental stimulation, and if the only thing he has to chew on is rocks then that might explain his compulsion for them.

The first order of business is a step you have already started working on which is to limit his access to rocks. Fencing off a small grassy area and combing the area with a garden rake should eliminate most if not all of the rocks. You can then use the grassy area as a safe training zone to help change his motivation.

Now the fun part! Take a variety of toys and simply play with him so he learns there are alternatives to rocks. Simple environmental enrichment can sometimes make them forget all about their old habits.

After a couple weeks, we need to see if it will be safe to allow him to have access to places where rocks are available. To do this, add a rock to the grassy area that is too large to pick up or swallow but still has sides where he can mouth it.

If he makes a beeline for the rock, make sure he knows this is not acceptable behavior, but reward and praise him whenever he picks up a favorite toy instead. He will gradually lose interest in the rock. If he needs extra encouragement, then spraying the rock with bitter apple or bitter orange or a similar noxious but non-toxic product can also help discourage the behavior during this period.

 

For even more training and behavior tips, visit The Pee Press!

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  1. Diana 01/29/2013

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