The caller to the AKC Canine Good Citizen department sounded frustrated. “My Lab mix will eat anything that is laying around. She chews the heads off my son’s action figures, she eat tissues from the trash, and she never met a sock she didn’t like. What should we do?”
I had a long talk with the owner, and here are the key points.
- Start with a vet check. Sometimes pica (the technical term for eating inedible objects) is related to a nutritional problem. Make sure the dog has had a veterinary work-up.
- Control the environment. The dog eats everything “that is laying around.” That’s clue #1 — things are laying around. If it’s not there, she can’t eat it. Just as you would baby-proof a home, you need to dog-proof yours.
- Exercise is important. Providing daily exercise will keep your dog from getting bored and making lunch out of Buzz Lightyear.
- Provide acceptable, safe chewing options. Your home should have plenty of chew toys that are easily available to your dog. Try an interactive toy in which you can hide treats.
- Supervision. Keep an eye on your dog and use a crate to keep her safe when you have to leave. Pica is a serious behavior problem that can result in intestinal obstructions.
And as always, training gives your dog something to wrap her mind around. CGC classes will help and you’ll feel better in the hands of an experienced instructor.
Have any of you ever had this problem with your dogs? How did you fix the situation? Share your stories with everyone in the comments.