Why do puppies eat rocks? It may have baffled you the first time you saw your dog eat a rock, and while your first instinct would be to instruct your pooch to stop the behavior immediately, you still want to understand the behavior and its causes.
In this article, we’ll look at the possible reasons your puppy may be chewing rocks like food. Of course, this isn't a permissible or normal behavior for a growing pooch, but there are several reasons dogs do it, and I’ll explain all below.
The Reasons Puppies Eat Rocks
Just like their human parents, canines can get bored from a lack of interaction and physical exercises. When this happens, your pooch is often left with no other option than to self-entertain by eating rocks.
To prevent this behavior, consider providing your canine with a collection of interactive toys, especially if he has to be alone for an extended period. Opt for chew toys, puzzle toys, and any other toy type that encourages mental and physical stimulation.
When you have the time, you can also engage him in exciting and stimulating games like fetch. These games keep him busy and eventually eliminate the desire to eat rocks.
A common psychological/medical issue, pica is a condition that causes both humans and animals to crave and eat non-food items like rock or soil. Younger dogs are often more prone to this condition compared to older ones. This is simply because, at this stage, they are more curious and, as such, will naturally explore their environments with their mouths.
This high level of curiosity can mean that your pup tests out most things he finds, including rocks with his mouth and, in some cases, even ingest it. If left to continue the behavior, he will eat more rocks and eventually suffer from digestive issues such as intestinal blockage and perforation.
Some pups will chew rocks because of certain nutritional deficiencies. This happens when your dog’s body identifies rocks as a source of the missing nutrients, and your dog tries to supplement the nutrients he lacks by chewing on and swallowing rocks or stones.
Is your dog well-fed? This is another major cause of rock-chewing in dogs. Poorly-fed dogs might resort to eating rocks to fill their stomach in the absence of food. As our pups grow, their bodies require more calories, fats, and other vital nutrients to thrive in the best way possible.
Don’t let your pup starve. Instead, adjust his meal servings to meet his nutritional requirements. And you should only do this with food formulated for puppies alone and not just any other food in an attempt to keep him fuller for longer.
How to Stop Rock-Chewing in Dogs
Rock chewing in puppies is one behavior you cannot allow to go on for long. It is a behavior that will harm your dog sooner or later, and the earlier you stop it, the better it is for your dog. So, how do you stop this behavior?
Start by Knowing the Cause
There are several reasons your pooch may be chewing rocks. I discussed some of the possible reasons above. Is it a psychological problem? Is your pooch poorly fed, or does he do this out of boredom? Whichever it may be, knowing the exact cause is one of the surest ways to get closer to the solution.
Train Out the Behavior
You can’t stop your pup from chewing rocks in one day, but gradually, you can break the habit. You can do this by raking up the rocks and stones in places he has access to them. You can also get a basket muzzle for use outdoors. This helps to prevent him from picking up stones and rocks outside and during walks.
An important part of this training is the obedience aspect. Take out time each day to teach your pup simple obedience commands like walking away from rocks or dropping them when instructed.
Get Him Toys
Does your dog have enough chew toys? If he doesn’t, you should consider getting him the right chew toys. And even if he does, keep in mind that just like human children, dogs can get bored of playing with the same set of toys. Shake things up now and then to keep your pup interested in the toys.
Spend More Time With the Pup
Yes, your pup has all the toys he needs, but toys cannot be substituted for human interaction. If your dog has all the toys he needs but still chews on rocks, it is likely because he is bored and only gets your attention when he does it. He chews rocks because he misses you and only gets your attention whenever he does it.