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I need tips for breaking a scavenging habit with my dog. She is a 1 year old Australian Shepherd. She is obsessed with eating stuff off the ground, particularly grass, sticks, bark, acorns and rabbit poop, all of which are plentiful in my yard/neighborhood. If left to her own devices she would eat off the ground until she made herself sick.

All of the advice I have received on this subject or info I have found on the internet says to teach a strong leave it/drop it/recall. She can do all of those things. The problem is it doesnt stop her from scavenging, it just gives me a way to stop her from eating what she finds. The result is that I spend my time outside with her shouting "drop it" or "leave it" every 2 min, instead of actually enjoying playtime or walks. I cant get her to make the decision on her own not to scavenge - as soon as I tell her to leave it or drop it or come, she does what I tell her, and then goes and looks for something else to eat, even if I have treats or toys. It's exhausting and not fun for either of us.

TL;DR she will "leave it" or "drop it" if I tell her to, but I'm sick of having to watch her like a hawk and tell her leave it or drop it every 5 seconds. Does anyone have any advice on how to actually break the scavenging habit? Or any chance she will grow out of this? Help! :(
 

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The behavior could well fade with maturity - one of the ways young dogs learn about the world is by putting everything in their mouths! Personally, if there's a risk in your area of her consuming something poisonous or that could cause a blockage, I'd be thinking about using a muzzle part of the time so she can get her exercise without you having to worry every second.
 

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The behavior could well fade with maturity - one of the ways young dogs learn about the world is by putting everything in their mouths! Personally, if there's a risk in your area of her consuming something poisonous or that could cause a blockage, I'd be thinking about using a muzzle part of the time so she can get her exercise without you having to worry every second.
Thanks! I hope you are right about growing out of it. She was worse about it when she was a puppy and now at a year old she definitely still has maturing to do. I thought about a muzzle, but the only types I've seen are the super restrictive kind for aggressive dogs that wouldnt allow her to drink pant, or basket muzzles which I'm pretty sure she could eat right through. Is there a type that would allow her to pant and drink but not eat? Luckily her biggest obsession is rabbit poop, which isnt harmful. But I would worry more if we were traveling or something and I wasnt as familiar with the local flora.
 

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I know of several dogs that can't go out without a muzzled, due to wanting to eat everything they come across. You will likely have to look online for a non-restrictive muzzle that will still keep her from getting to most inedibles. Leerburg, For Dog Trainers, and other places that cater to police and bite sport enthusiasts have them.
 

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Vigilance and teach the "Pass" and "Drop" commands.

Its the nature of dogs to scavenge. My MiniS is always snatching up some sidewalk goodie. Most times I am able to spot the goodie before he gobbles it to issue the "Pass" command. Sometimes, I'm a little slow and have to use the "Drop It" command. There are times when he can't or won't drop it, then I need to go mouth fishing to remove the goodie. If he swallows it, then we have a discipline. A nose to nose growl issued by me. Then we continue our walk.

Any time he complies with the command there is a reward. Only 1 discipline if he swallows it. Never a strike or a leash yank.....

At times during the walk we will happen into an area with loads of sidewalk treats. Then I give the "Close" command and shorten my grip on the leash to about 18 inches. He has to walk within inches of me and does not have enough leash to put his nose on the ground.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Vigilance and teach the "Pass" and "Drop" commands.

Its the nature of dogs to scavenge. My MiniS is always snatching up some sidewalk goodie. Most times I am able to spot the goodie before he gobbles it to issue the "Pass" command. Sometimes, I'm a little slow and have to use the "Drop It" command. There are times when he can't or won't drop it, then I need to go mouth fishing to remove the goodie. If he swallows it, then we have a discipline. A nose to nose growl issued by me. Then we continue our walk.

Any time he complies with the command there is a reward. Only 1 discipline if he swallows it. Never a strike or a leash yank.....

At times during the walk we will happen into an area with loads of sidewalk treats. Then I give the "Close" command and shorten my grip on the leash to about 18 inches. He has to walk within inches of me and does not have enough leash to put his nose on the ground.
Thanks for the tips! Fortunately, my girl is really strong on all those commands. If I tell her to "leave it" or "drop it" she will do so immediately. Just getting tired of having to be hyper-vigilant and tell her to leave things constantly, and I wish she would make the decision on her own to leave things alone without me having to tell her to. Its hard to enjoy walks or time outside because of it, so I'm hoping to break the habit somehow.
 

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I know of several dogs that can't go out without a muzzled, due to wanting to eat everything they come across. You will likely have to look online for a non-restrictive muzzle that will still keep her from getting to most inedibles. Leerburg, For Dog Trainers, and other places that cater to police and bite sport enthusiasts have them.
Thank you, I will look into these. Really hoping we can get past this with time/training, but as a last resort, or in unfamiliar territory, this might be a good option.
 

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I'm not an experienced dog owner, but whenever my puppy does something I hate (biting my clothes, my fingers, going to other parts of the house I don't want him to), I always make a loud sound to catch his attention, something like, "Sssst!" followed by a stern "NO!"

It works most of the time. He's gonna pause for a while and then move on with his life and put his attention into something else 😆 Sometimes, if he's not stopping, I clap my hands which is even a louder sound than saying "Sssst!" followed by "NO!"

Every dog is different, I think, and I do hope you find the best solution for your baby doggo!

💜
 

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Anna....this is where the vigilance comes in. You must be observant of the area. This is when you can do an effective redirect. If you wait until the dog has the goodie in its pie hole, then you are too late.

The area I live in is just one step short of a garbage dump. The locals have a nasty habit of just dropping whatever they were eating or unwrapping or drinking......many times a trash bin is just a few meters away. Yes, we find everything from chicken bones to partial dumplings to poo (dog and human). As a result, I have become extremely observant with the surroundings. I have also come to realize its impossible for be to be 100% effective. I know the dog's digestive system can process items that would make humans very ill. I focus mostly on bones, seeds and other potential chokers with a constant eye out to the harmful items like rat poison, hot dog pieces with treble hooks and other assorted nasties.

I have also learned to watch my dog's behavior as he is sniffing about. If he becomes too interested in a spot, then a gentle leash tug with the "Come" command is able to break him off the treasure.

My points are
1. you wont be able to stop everything. Focus on stopping the dangerous goodies.
2. the dog can digest some pretty nasty stuff without effect
3. learn how your dog keys on an item
4. be vigilant.
 
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