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I have a wonderful lab mix puppy. He is about 4 months old and has really been a joy. We adopted him from a humane society 2 weeks ago. He is a great dog in the house but outside is a whole other story. I walk him at least twice a day and he insists on putting everything in his mouth. It is usually a stick but sometimes it is rocks. He usually drops them at some point but has swallowed a few pebbles. My husband (who doesn't do any of the walking) is complaining that we should muzzle him to prevent it and I do believe it s out of concern. I have explained that he is just learning about his world and will hopefully outgrow it. I feel like I spend more time saying "no" or prying rocks out of his mouth then I do just enjoying being with him. His vet says he is fine and will stop as he gets older. For now do I just let it continue and is it normal?
 

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It's perfectly normal, and just like you said, he's just exploring and learning about his world. Puppies try to get everything in their mouths, lol. Most outgrow this stage, but for a very very few dogs, they don't and develop weird habits like eating rocks, poop, etc. I think you should train him the "Leave it" and "Drop it" commands so you don't have to keep prying stuff out of his mouth. If you keep pulling stuff out of his mouth, there is the chance he can become possessive over the things he tries to eat. He would either gulp and swallow anything that he gets in his mouth, or start acting aggressively. There are lots of youtube videos on the "Leave it" and "Drop it" commands, I recommend kikopup's videos. Also, I think it's a good idea to provide a puppy with lots of options of what to play and explore, toys, food toys, chews, big boxes etc. And rewarding him when he plays with the right things also reinforces playing and eating the right stuff. If you're really worried about him eating too many rocks, just try to avoid areas with rocks until he outgrows his mouthy stage, lol.
 

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I agree with Wicket. Good advice.

Although all puppies explore with their mouths, Labs can be the goats of the canine world, chewing on and eating everything within reach.
He does need a Kong and a hard rubber bone, but he doesn't need a muzzle, although I'm surprised that you haven't written about the scratches and bites you have all over your hands and arms from where he tried to use you as a chew toy... :)

Despite what the Vet said, it may not stop as he gets older, so you do want to train him to Drop it. My Lab chewed on bricks, the corner of the house, and unscrewed the polyethylene lid to the drainage cleanout on the side of the house, for the fun of it...
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both for your advice. I will work on the "drop it" command. He is really great in the house about playing with his toys and leaving our stuff alone for the most part. He doesn't fight me when I take it from his mouth but I realize that may change. Thank you again.
 

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my lab Lucifer had a horrible chewing habit when i rescued him last fall...... I have broke him of the habit by using the drop it command but not before he had chewed up most of my shoes ( and my brandnew 140.00 danskos grrrr ) well I guess I should look at the positive side, I have alot more room in my closet and I got to go shoe shopping !!!
 

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It's not just puppies. My mom's bichon loved to carry rocks back home. Kabota seems to operate under the rule of "I'll eat it now and if it's not food, I can just puke it up later". We spent more time working on drop it than walking the first few months, leave it works about 1 time in 10 and at least once a week, I have to shove my fingers down his throat to pull out bones, rocks, cigarette butts, a dead bird . . .
 

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It's not just puppies. My mom's bichon loved to carry rocks back home. Kabota seems to operate under the rule of "I'll eat it now and if it's not food, I can just puke it up later". We spent more time working on drop it than walking the first few months, leave it works about 1 time in 10 and at least once a week, I have to shove my fingers down his throat to pull out bones, rocks, cigarette butts, a dead bird . . .
Oh man, dead bird!! I've had horrible memories of one particular dead bird that was broken into pieces. One time my pup found a dead bird head, had to pry it out of her mouth and tossed it in some random direction. Week later, she managed to find a dead bird leg from the same carcass, got it out and tossed it. Month later, we get home from a walk and she's chewing on something in her bed. I never gave her anything to chew on that moment so I go check her mouth. OMG it was the same dead bird head!!! I totally freaked and had to pull it out from her mouth once again. She managed to find the same bird head again and brought it home!! She was banned from kisses for 2 weeks, aguuuuh, lol. I guess some animal ripped that bird apart and scattered the remains >.<
 

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My dog Roxie digs for rocks...
At first, the rocks she brought me were just common everyday quartz rocks..
Then suddenly ,she discovered an ancient area of the backyard that contained Indian Arrow Heads and Pot Rocks...
 

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Oh man, dead bird!! I've had horrible memories of one particular dead bird that was broken into pieces. One time my pup found a dead bird head, had to pry it out of her mouth and tossed it in some random direction. Week later, she managed to find a dead bird leg from the same carcass, got it out and tossed it. Month later, we get home from a walk and she's chewing on something in her bed. I never gave her anything to chew on that moment so I go check her mouth. OMG it was the same dead bird head!!! I totally freaked and had to pull it out from her mouth once again. She managed to find the same bird head again and brought it home!! She was banned from kisses for 2 weeks, aguuuuh, lol. I guess some animal ripped that bird apart and scattered the remains >.<
Ugh, Biscuit keeps trying to eat the dead baby birds that are laying around here lately. That and the desiccated dead rat underneath my neighbor's car. Cut it out, dog!
 

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Definitely work on the "leave it" command. Make sure you have a high value treat in return, like tiny pieces of boiled chicken or hot dog. You don't want your dog to swallow too many rocks. Vets will tell you that they perform lots of surgeries on dogs that accumulate too many rocks and they stop up their intestines. Painful to the dog, and expensive to you!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I am working on the "leave it" command. Roloni, you are right because he doesn't swallow all of the rocks but he certainly swallows pebbles.
 
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