Why Does My Dog Consume Inedible Things?
In college, I was a Psychology and English Major. I wanted to help people with their struggles in life. Truth be told, I wanted to go to Medical School, but I got married and life and finances got in the way.
While I was working my way through my bachelors, my finances ran out and I began training and working with dogs full time. I am pretty sure my parents are still disappointed that being a dog trainer is “the best I could do with my life”.
Yet, I think that all those years in college studying humans and human mental conditions have helped me to work with humans (pet parents) and to better understand our furry friends. Honestly, I wouldn’t change those experiences for anything!
Why does a dog consume inedible things?
I am a firm believer that dogs suffer from the same types of mental disorders that people can suffer from.
After all, we both can get cancer and other physiological diseases and disorders, why then would we think our dogs couldn’t suffer from some of the same mental challenges? I can’t prove this 😉 but I am a firm believer and recent studies are confirming my allegations.
Pica Disorder and Dogs
Pica is a mental disorder where the human sufferer has a strong desire to eat things that are non-nutritive and not considered food like hair, paper, rocks, drywall, glue, etc.
There used to be a television show called “My Strange Addiction” that premiered on TLC in 2010 and many of those depicted suffered from forms of PICA. Some ate toilet paper, cleanser, and detergent.
And, although I am not a big believer in “reality TV”, because I think most of these shows are driven by ratings and aren’t always totally real, I was still intrigued.
I am aware that PICA is a real disorder.
I am also aware that some dogs suffer from the seemingly same type of disorder.
It is as if the dog is obsessed by consuming non-nutritive items like socks, rocks, sticks, mulch, and anything else they can get their snouts on to consume.
This is very difficult to change or even control, as some parts of this behavior resemble OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, which is a mental health disorder, and not a “behavior”.
Often, dogs diagnosed with this disorder are encouraged to be walked on leash while wearing a basket muzzle so that they cannot consume dangerous items.
It is also recommended that any gravel or mulch be removed from the yard to prevent accidental ingestion.
Unfortunately I have seen young dogs euthanized because their owners couldn’t afford multiple emergency obstruction surgeries and were unable to manage or control their dog’s consumption.
But, thankfully most dogs don’t suffer from the OCD mental disorder called Pica.
The truth is, most dogs are just bored!
Remember, your dog doesn’t have hands.
He can’t read a book, or catch up with his friends on Facebook or Twitter.
He can’t plan a vacation, or a hike, or take himself for a walk. Dogs don’t choose to exercise themselves.
So when they are left to their own devices… they use what they have, their mouths, to entertain themselves.
Frequently, they actually swallow things they shouldn’t, because we have chased them around and taken so many things away from them.
It is like, in their mind, they had better swallow whatever they get before we have a chance to take it away from them. And, that makes for dangerous behavior and consequences.
Your dog needs exercise!
He can’t provide it for himself, so you must carve out time to provide it for him.
A one hour run next to your bike is a lot better than a $5,000 surgery to have his bowel reconstructed!
Mental exercise and stimulation also helps. Ian Dunbar says that mental exercise tires a dog physically more than physical exercise does!
Take Out the Conflict
I like to eliminate the conflict that occurs when I have to take something from my dog.
If there is no conflict, there is no reason that my dog will try and quickly swallow anything he takes.
For a free report on how to take items away from your dog without conflict, click here.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.