My yard is basically in the woods. There are sticks and stones all over. How can I get the dogs to stop picking up sticks and eating them or running around with the rocks? I am afraid they will swallow something.
|Things I would try . . .
Picking up more of the sticks, not allowing the dog in the garden area, spraying the sticks with bitter apple stuff, teaching the dog the "drop it" or "leave it" command. Maybe trying to teach the dog the "leave it" command to some flags and then place the flags around the garden area.
I wouldn't let the dog eat sticks as they could splinter and cause issues in the digestive tract although most will usually just pass through as fiber.
I only give my dogs frozen raw beef marrow bones to chew as raw hide can be unsafe if swallowed, and cooked or smoked bones are very unsafe and splinter easily. Bully sticks are another option, but I can't stand the smell.
If the marrow is too rich for the dog at first you can take some out with a spoon. The raw bones are perfect for cleaning teeth-you do need to be watching them as with anything you give a dog to chew because their still is some risk with raw bones.
You can find them at your local grocery store meat counter or butcher shop. Freezing them first makes them last longer, and always discard them after the bones are cleaned.
|Every dachshund that I have had over the past 50 years has tried to be a stick eater. The first command that I teach a new one is the leave it command. As soon as they show interest in the stick, I use the command. It takes longer with some, but eventually they get it. If the dog actually has the stick in its mouth, then the drop it command is used. I try hard not to let them get that far, but sometimes they are faster than I am.
As owners, we must realize that eating sticks may be dangerous, they may cause an intestinal obstruction, or worse, the sticks may splinter and cause damage as they pass through the digestive system. I have witnessed my dogs painfully poop pieces of sticks mixed in theirstools and there was blood mixed in it from injuring the rectum on the way out. Not a nice thing to see!
Now to methods:
1) The squirt bottle
Squirting the dog every time he picks up a stick may work short term. If your dog will not get squirt for a couple of times, he will forget about it and the pleasure of chewing on a nice stick will make him go back to the habit.
2) The "drop it" command
Teaching the "drop it" command can be a life saver should your dog grab something he is not supposed to. This worked great when I caught my dogs in the act of picking up sticks, since it prevented them from ingesting the sticks. Only problem? My day was like a broken record: drop it, drop it, drop it, drop it, drop it, and drop it. Got the idea?
3) The "no" command
For some reason the drop it command worked for me only once the stick was in the mouth but not to prevent my dogs from getting the stick in the first place. I think they simply were unaware of the fact that what they were doing was something bad. They only learned that they had to drop the item several times and that when they did they got something else to chew on. No big deal! They did not have a clue that what they were doing was something I did not like. I guess in their little minds they must have thought "I can pick up this stick but then I need to spit it out on command" or in other words "my owner does not care if I pick up the stick, all that matters is that I get it out of my mouth quick" So I upgraded to "No" as soon as I saw them approach sticks. My dogs have known since a tender age that no is no. So when a no is said they stop doing what they do. And look at me for directions.
4) The "stick party"
So one day I gathered a bunch of sticks and sprayed them with bitter apple spray. I placed them in my dog's favorite play area. They must have thought it was a party ..until.. they tasted them. In this case, I did not have to say no, since the flavor itself did the job, but I still said it so they would learn to associate the no with the bad flavor. I also tossed them the bitter appled sticks. They spit out the sticks as I handed them a kong with peanut butter. Now they knew that sticks were no longer good as they thought.
4)The overlasting impression I had to invest in a lot of bitter apple and supervision. All it takes for a dog to get back to the bad habit is getting a couple of stones or sticks with no bitter apple on them. It's like "oh, this was what I was missing.. I need to try my luck for a tasty one.." and back to their antiques they go. So try to surround your dog with only bad bitter apple sprayed sticks and good peanut butter dipped toys. Your dog will know what the right choice is, and hopefully it may work.
This is just a sample of what has worked for me.The steps are: dog picks up stick, dog tastes bitter apple, you say no, dog spits it out, you hand tasty toy.
In a dog's mind this translates to: oh a rock, yum need to eat it, oh no! It tastes awful, my owner is also saying no to alert me it is bad, better chew my toy.
Trial: oh a rock, I am going to give it a shot, OK tastes bad, I learned my lesson
Further thought: rocks taste bad, don't like them any more, no thank you!
Even today, one full year later, I cannot trust my dogs 100% when left alone unsupervised. All it takes is some frustration or boredome and they go back to their stick chewing antics. My personal opinion? This is a big challenge. Best shortcut? Fence a stick free area and let your dogs stick to it! Best of luck!
Learn more about this author, Janet Farricelli.