Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
158 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Let me start out with, sorry if this is in the wrong place. This could have gone in a few different places, so if it's in the wrong place, I apologize.

Okay, so...my two dogs have recently started going and eating dirt and rocks. Or at least attempting to. I don't know if they've swallowed anything(probably some dirt), because I'm not always the one who takes them out, but if you let them out they go and eat the loose dirt and rocks under the deck in my backyard. We're planning to fence that in soon anyway, but it kind of has me worried. They're acting fine otherwise, maybe a bit weirded out by all the weather changes(it's been all over the place, today's 90, but a few weeks ago it was 30?!). The thing that worries me is the fact that they never even were grass eaters. My one dog, Bailey, is way more interested that Bella. He doesn't eat sticks, or chew up my brothers legos and nerf darts, even if they're left on the floor in easy reach, and if he goes to pick something like that up and I tell him "no" or "leave it" he walks away. This though, sometimes he refuses to listen even if he hasn't quite gotten to the dirt yet. They just started doing this about a week or two ago.

Since it might be asked, they're on Eagle Pack Holistics(I forget what ones, but it's a mix of two) and have been for the past 3 years without issues. They get adequate exercise and training time each day. We don't necessarily go on walks every day as it's no good to walk in hot weather or freezing weather, but I play fetch with them inside all the time.

Any ideas?

~IJMB
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,391 Posts
What breed?

I can guess 3 reasons to eat dirt: 1) Disease - but not both of them at the same time; 2) Diet - I guess Eagle Pack is complete; 3) Something smells good in the dirt (doesn't have to taste good, just smell good) and #3 is my best guess.

In addition, it could be a need to chew something (hard rubber bones?)... For example, Labs are dogs that were cross-bred with goats... so they have a need to chew and swallow everything, including bricks and Tasmanian devils :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
158 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
They're Shih Tzus :)

Thanks for your guesses, those were mine as well, but I figured I'd ask in case I was missing anything haha.

They have stuff to chew on in the house and when we're playing in the backyard they have sticks to chew on, though Bailey's never really been a stick chewer either. He loves his bones though haha. He's not a big fan of chewing on rubber toys, but we have some nylabones and hard rope toys for him to chew on whenever he likes :p Haha I totally know what you mean by the Lab thing! My first dog was a Lab, and I remember when our concrete started chipping he'd pick up a piece of it to try and eat haha :p

So I guess my next question is, until we can get the fencing stuff up(which is totally not under my control, I'm only 15 and would need my Dad with me, and he's generally only home on the weekends, so it may be awhile :/) what would be a good way to distract him? My normal way of getting him to come in when distracted isn't working(yelling "come!" and running to the treats) at all, and I feel like I should be doing something besides scooping him up and carrying him away XD If I can I block him from getting under, or ask him not to go under, and if he listens he gets lots of lovin's haha, but sometimes I'm halfway across the yard trying to get Bella to go(she needs extra encouragement to go, working on fixing this haha) and if I am he ignores me and goes to eat the dirt. So, should I just go out carrying treats in my pocket and when he decides he wants to go under, tell him to come distract him with tricks? That will also distract Bella though haha. And plus, he's also your stereotypical Tzu who wants to do things on his terms, so what do I do if he doesn't come? Because I have a feeling he won't always come. We're working on that too, but he's a harder dog to train haha.

~IJMB
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,391 Posts
Continuing to speculate....

One of the main principles of modern training theory is to anticipate & avoid poor behavior so that you stop it before it gets started. So, you might actively teach the "Leave It!" cue. Search for it with Google and Youtube for more details, but in general:
1. Put a treat on the floor.
2. Allow the dog to see it, but when he goes for it, cover it with your foot.
3. He will dig, bark, bite, etc. to try to get it. Don't let him. When he gets frustrated and either looks at you (best!) or sits (OK for now), then say "Leave It," Praise, and treat from your hand. Never let him have the treat on the floor.
4. Pick up the treat from the floor (for the reward next time) and put another treat on the floor and repeat Steps 1 -3. Do this a total of 3 times. If he is quick and sits and looks at you immediately, then say "Leave It," Praise, and treat from your hand, immediately.
5. Next time, put the treat on the ground and say Leave it immediately. If he sits and looks at you, Praise and treat(3 treats - Jackpot). Repeat this 3 times and stop for today. If he goes for it - watch him!!!! - then cover with your foot, and say Leave It (Stop and repeat tomorrow).
6. Next day, repeat what his success 3 times. Move to a different location, repeat 3 times. Use a completely different treat, repeat 3 times. Try using a high value treat or a high value toy, repeat 3 times. Take him outside and repeat... Note that dogs learn better after they've slept on their lessons (so do people)... So, don't push things... give it a week or so.
7. Next time he eats dirt, say Leave It... Praise and treat if it works... Train him over the dirt, if it doesn't.

This is just an outline... so look for additional explanations of teaching Leave It!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
158 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Mmm he already knows leave it, it's just not one of his best ques(he doesn't like training at all, have to do 5 minute or less training sessions otherwise he looses interest and wanders off haha). The only thing he does reliably, honestly, is sit(we're working on all the others daily, he just doesn't like to listen ;_;), but we'll work on the leave it more and we'll do it out by the dirt. I guess I'll be carrying around treats all the time though, because he doesn't listen when he knows I don't have a treat haha. The only reason he sits is because we've worked on it a lot the past 5 years of his life haha. I feel like I might be doing something wrong, but I'm not sure what. I'm honestly not very experience in training, I know like 75% of what I know through books and the internet and haven't even gotten to try it out myself lol. I've thought about doing NILIF(or at least parts of it, already doing some of the things normally, like he has to sit before getting his meals and he's not free-fed) with him, but I'm not sure how I'll get my family on board. Especially with things like he has to be invited onto furniture, because they've been allowed to get up whenever since we got him haha so it'll take a lot of work.

~IJMB
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
740 Posts
My Bichon also likes to stick her nose and mouth in some dirt/grass though she won't actually eat a lot. There are some foods out there that have botanicals in them - sometimes dogs crave fiber/botanicals like sticks, leaves, grass, and sometimes they eat grass because they feel sick and eating grass would induce vomiting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
158 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thanks for the advice guys! Bella has stopped trying to eat the dirt, and Bailey now listens because he knows I always have treats on me lol. Hey, it works right? :)

~IJMB
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,391 Posts
Sounds like a success! You may need a tune-up every once in a while, if he backtracks, but it'll just take a little reminder.

Now you're an expert on dirt-eating and can help others....
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
158 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Sure was! And yup, I expect to have to do that sometimes...unfortunately Bailey is smart and will go over by the dirt and look up at me, waiting for me to give him a treat XD Silly boy.

Haha yeah, that's how I look at things when my dogs start doing something I'd like to train out of them, I get a chance to learn and can use it to help others in the future :)

~IJMB
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top