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How do you stop a puppy eating stones & gravel?

 
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Deovolante



Joined: 01 Feb 2007
Posts: 79
Location: East Sussex

PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 10:50 am    Post subject: How do you stop a puppy eating stones & gravel? Reply with quote

Can anyone give advice concerning a 17 week old puppy who is eating stones and gravel and has done since about 9 weeks old.
He is certainly swallowing some small stones as they are coming out the other end.....
He is quite an obedient little chap but when he has picked up a stone he will not come back when called.
The couple are sensible and have owned a Dalmatian before but the guy is in a wheelchair so obviously does not have quick reactions and certainly can't reach the puppy if he goes behind the fir trees or into the bamboo!!
Any advice would be gratefully received.
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Spotalot



Joined: 12 Sep 2010
Posts: 3185
Location: Essex

PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daisy used to do this at first and I found that an empty well washed out washing up liquid bottle filled with water, then squirted her in the face quite a lot at first, along with a stern NO, worked really well. Sounds cruel but it is only water and eating stuff in the garden can be dangerous. Stones are sometimes sharp and some plants and bulbs dangerous,and dogs can pick up heart worm from snails. After a while I only needed to do a little squirt and now only need pick up the bottle. Laughing
Obviously could be difficult for someone in a wheelchair but maybe an able bodied person could help in the beginning.
Also if you chase them to try and retrieve something it quickly becomes a good game to them. I find offering a high value alternative works well! Either a favourite toy or small piece of food they love, in Daisy's case cheese.
Whatever you use, try to teach them the word for it by giving them tiny bits of cheese for example and saying cheese as they take it. They soon cotton on, I only have to call Daisy cheese now and she comes running. Also a special squeaky toy, kept only for that purpose works well.
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Mortissues



Joined: 02 Jul 2009
Posts: 350
Location: Northants

PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Monty loved stones, he was always bringing them in from the garden. DoNothing advised me to ignore him as this behaviour was attention seeking and that worked.

If the puppy is doing it on a walk then perhaps a tasty and hard to resist treat may be the right distraction? We always use chopped up hotdogs or cheese, Monty is always far more interested in these (plus his ball chucker) than any other distractions when used as a reward for returning to 'base' and stopping whatever he is doing Very Happy
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Jeangenie



Joined: 01 Apr 2004
Posts: 2395
Location: Denial

PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's good that you're aware how very dangerous this is - removal of a foreign body is one of the common causes for emergency surgery in young dogs. As you know he's a stone-eater I hope you have him insured?

Is he getting the stones from your garden or when you're out on walks? If it's from your garden you must make sure he only has access to a paved or grassy area.
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Deovolante



Joined: 01 Feb 2007
Posts: 79
Location: East Sussex

PostPosted: Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He is not actually our puppy although we have been fostering him on and off. It is when he goes home there are areas in the garden that have some sort of gravel, we have him back here with us at the moment whilst the owners get these areas changed to something more puppy friendly.
He does not do it out on a walk, when he is here I have seen him with stones in his mouth but I am able to take them away from him, these have been larger stones rather than anything small.
As you can imagine it is quite difficult for the person in the wheelchair to deal with.
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jabbadal



Joined: 26 Jul 2004
Posts: 554
Location: Wiltshire, England

PostPosted: Mon Nov 01, 2010 11:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Our oldest bitch used to love stones as a puppy, I remember finding a small rockery underneath the sofa everytime I moved it to hoover underneath!

It may be useful to teach this puppy to give things back to you when he's picked them up - particularly if the owner is in a wheelchair, as this skill could be used to help them alot around the house if the puppy can be taught to pick things up for them.

firstly, start with the trade game. When the puppy is playing with you and a toy that he has a good grip on with his teeth, occasionally produce a treat, showing it to his nose and as soon as the puppy lets go of the toy to take the treat - give a cue such as 'drop, thankyou, release'. Once the puppy has eaten the treat, immediately give the toy back for another game.
If the puppy learns that letting go of the toy does not signal the end of the game, he should quickly and willingly give up the toy for a treat. After a good few repetitions, the puppy should be letting go of the article on the command, rather than only when he sees a treat (he would still however always get a treat at this stage!).

Next move on to teaching the puppy to actually bring something back to you.
With the puppy on a very long, loose lead -play with a toy he likes, then throw it - hopefully he will run a grab it (as he does introduce another cue such as 'hold it' as he picks it up), as soon as the puppy picks up the toy give lots of praise and encouragement to come back to you, If he comes near you, do not grab the toy - instead get him to a point where he will let you cuddle and pet him all over his body - but not near the toy. He will learn, that you aren't always going to take the toy away and become alot more willing to bring it back. (the lead is to stop him running off too far with the toy, but we don't use it to get him to come back, as we want him to learn to do this willingly,)

Once the puppy is coming back willingly, either wait until he drops it of his own accord or after waiting at least a minute, then produce a treat and repeat the 'drop it' cue, then give toy back. (the trick is to wait a while before producing a treat or he will start to spit out the toy before he has come back and won't learn to bring it back!).
Lots of praise everytime!

Meanwhile - as you are in the process of this training, everytime he grabs a stone, give him lots of praise and encourage him back to you - almost as if you are extremely pleased as to how clever he is to bring you a present. Then as with the toy training, pet him all over then produce a treat to get him to release the stone. This time he gets a few treats, praise and even perhaps a game with a toy.

Training this way, turns the experience into a positive one and soon anything he picks up will be brought to you automatically as he wants to get that praise and a treat!

The owner, could get a small treat bag which attaches to the wheelchair, so that they can always have a treat handy if ever the puppy voluntarily brings something to him.

only trouble with this type of training is that if you have a puppy like my Vanilla, when you are distracted, such as watching tv or working at the computer, you can often turn around to find a small collection of items left at your feet, in her vain attempt to find the right object that will get me to 'pay attention' to her!!! lol!
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Deovolante



Joined: 01 Feb 2007
Posts: 79
Location: East Sussex

PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Lou, what you have said for the retrieve training is pretty much the same advice as our local Canine Partners gave, only one thing we don't really want him to drop things (apart from stones!) . As the owner is in a wheelchair we have been working towards the puppy returning and letting us take the item, this way if the owner drops something hopefully as he gets older puppy will pick it up and give it to him.
It's a bit of a struggle for the owner as when puppy picks up a stone he just knows he shouldn't have it so runs away, owner gets stressed that he can't get to him and his voice obviously sends the wrong signals.
Hopefully it will be something he will grow out of, in the meantime the training continues.......
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