My dog is a ROCK eater!!

cindyb_vaSeptember 28, 2006

I just got a report card from my doggie day care for Sawyer, my 10 month old hound-mix. Apparently, I have the canine equivalent of a kindergarten paste eater...because he is eating rocks out in the play-yard. Not all day, just one or two per day. This is pea gravel, not granite chips or anything.

They have tried to stop him, but when they approach him to say "No", it makes him swallow the rock immediately. Anyway, they made me sign a paper yesterday indemnifing them from liability if it should ever make him sick.

He does not eat gravel at home, but then again, I really don't have gravel at home for him to eat.

Guys, this is a great day care and the staff are absolutely fabulous and wonderful people, but I don't want to risk my pup's health just so he can play. Will he out grow this? Can you train a dog not to eat gravel? Should I seek out a non-gravel day care? Anything I can do? HELP!

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eating gravel can be very dangerous. I feel for you as it's hard to find a place that makes you comfortable. BUT being they made you sign a paper says to me they can't keep him away from it... soooooooo with that said I think I'd be looking for another place.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2006 at 5:44PM
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I forgot to add that rock eating is considered a form of PICA, below is a link describing what it is, and dismissing some of the myths.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pica

    Bookmark   September 28, 2006 at 5:49PM
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When my hound mix was a pup she ate small gravel too. I actually went all over the yard and picked up every little rock I could find, fortunately we have a small yard. Our vet said it was a stage they go thru like babies and he was right. After a while she just stopped even looking for them and is now a 4 1/2 yr old well behaved lady. The people above are right tho, you have to remove him from the problem until he outgrows it.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2006 at 7:22PM
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Ana used to eat the pea gravel in my plants. She doesn't so much anymore. I don't if she grew out of it or if I finally managed to train her not to do it. In any case, she stopped for the most part. Although I do still spray some bitter apple on my plants when I first bring them in for the winter. Ana has a nice permament record of her rock-eating days in the form of radiographs when we were evaluating her spine/leg deformities. I had to wait for her to poop out the rocks so we could get a good look at her spine. Sigh.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2006 at 7:49PM
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This should not be too hard, but you need to supervise your dog while it is near the gravel for a bit. Bring a couple of toys with you, when you tell her NO, Leave it, just do it in a firm deepest voice you have, you dont need to yell (dogs have great hearing) when she looks at you, show her the toy/stuff animal/empty kong whatever it is (no food) and give her a command in a high sqeeky fun voice to play with the toy - toss the toy away from the gravel or just hold it, and and constantly talk to her in the high voice. You might have to be patient and do this awile. Ths idea is to replace what you dont want her to play with, with something you do. Remeber puppys learn the world through their mouths, we do when we are little, but once stuff starts tasting bad, and mom comes down on us too many times, we learn to use our hands more. Your puppy will naturally explore with its mouth. Since it has a propensity to pick up things it is not suppose to, keep a sharp eye out during walks. Especially on garbage day.I brought a tiny travel sized toothpaste with me to put a tiny amount on my dogs tongue to keephim from picking up anything he isnt suppose to. We had a dog poisoned while growing up and I never want to deal with that again. Most dogs hate the taste of toothpaste, some like it, use tobasco sauce if the toothpaste does not work. Now some people have come down on me for using toothpaste saying you are not suppose to swallow it. I would rather dose my dogs four times with toothpaste then have to spend it life worry about it picking up someting toxic. Good luck

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 12:36AM
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Thanks for the input folks!

The problem is that I cannot supervise him at the day care. Due to insurance issues, only staff are allowed in the yard area. When they see Sawyer with a rock, they try to stop him, but as I said, that usually makes him swallow the rock quickly. So, they do try, but there is only so much that they can do with watching him and other dogs.

I guess my only alternative is to find a day care that doesn't use gravel surfaces. Hopefully he will outgrow it.

Thanks for all the advice and links :)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 12:28PM
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Get him a plastic basket muzzle. It's not a muzzle in the typical sense. Looks like a tomato basket and is very comfortable. If you add a poop guard to it that will keep him from eating anything when he's outdoors playing.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 1:50PM
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Another thought is that if he hasn't learned 'drop it,' yet, you can start working with him on that this week-end. Then ask the daycare folks to put the word 'no' away and start using 'drop it' or 'exchange' with him.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 1:56PM
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Thanks. I thought of a muzzle, but they frown on them at the day care place. Their argument is that other customers see a dog with a muzzle in the yard with their dogs and they get nervous.

If I muzzled him and sent him there, he'd have to be isolated from the other dogs and that defeats the purpose.

You are right about the drop it, command though. Maybe I can start working with him this weekend on that. At home I use the command, MINE, to get him to drop items I don't want him to have, but I need a more generic command that will work for them.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 2:25PM
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"Their argument is that other customers see a dog with a muzzle in the yard with their dogs and they get nervous."

They're probably not familiar with the basket muzzles. You might want to take them a picture. My greys wear them to run, as all greys get nippy when they're playing. "other customers getting nervous" is a serious cop-out by your otherwise well-loved daycare providers :-) They need to be afraid of the dogs who are NOT wearing muzzles. And as a doggie care provider should be concerned about the dogs, not owners leaping to bad conclusions.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 8:02PM
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Please watch your dog for ANY signs of illness until you can get his rock eating under control. I worked as a veterinary assistant many years ago and there was a lab that had to come in not once, but twice, to have rocks surgically removed from his intestine. I don't remember the dog's age, but he was "adult" sized, and the rocks varied in size, the largest being about the size of a walnut. Keep a close watch on his stool to make sure he can pass the rocks. I hope all goes well.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2006 at 8:03PM
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We had that problem for a short time and instead of going at her and yelling no, we talked in an exicted voice and had a toy with us. Instead of swallowing she would drop it to come get toy. She soon learned not to bother the rocks.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2006 at 8:27AM
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We have a deaf pup, so it's difficult to get her attention while she's consuming rocks. I resorted to gathering up dog poo from our yard and mixing it in a bucket of water then watering the rocky area with the solution with a watering can.

This also works if your dog is a compulsive digger.

Best not done if you have a hang-over.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 6:07PM
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