View Full Version : Rock Eating Splash Dog!
08-15-2007, 11:50 AM
Just curious if there are anysplash dogs out there who are "Pica" dogs - rock eaters. My Buck (black lab) continues to eat rocks, and luckily so far, tossing them back up, sometimes 6 at a time - and I'm talking about 6 rocks that are 2"x2.5" in size ea! I'm keeping a coffee can of his rocks that he tosses back - it can take 2 days before he regurges them. He's 2 3/4 years old and has been doing this for about a year, since he's been exposed to these rocks in a yard. I've heard that usually dogs who do this are bored and lonely...but when he's left at home, he's got his buddy, Hank, another young lab for company, and he's well exercised. I know the answer is to remove the rocks, but we're temporarily in this location and can't change the rock situation. I take him to work as much as I can to avoid the temptation, but there are times I don't ... and he'll do it. Doesn't seem to learn - even after almost having to have surgery last year with one that got stuck in his gut, but eventually passed. He ate some recently and last night he was in obvious discomfort...hopefully it'll pass! I've never seen him do it, he's a closet eater, so I can't even imagine how he is doing it. Anyone else have this issue, and do they outgrow it? Hopefully by the end of the year I will have moved - and you can bet there will be no rocks in my yard! Maybe if he didn't eat the rocks he'd be able to jump farther!
08-15-2007, 05:30 PM
My dog was going after brick for a short while. Try putting some dish soap and cayenne pepper on the rocks. The soap will make the pepper stick. Any time we find our dog going after anything he should not we just use a little and it always does the trick. Once they pick up a bad habit it will not go away without intervention. Lemon juice is another thing to try but my dog just licked it up. Hope this helps. Also keep an eye on his teeth too. He may be grinding them down on the rocks.
08-15-2007, 05:38 PM
That is bad, very bad. It does not take a very big object to cause a blockage in the digestive system. If a small piece of a tennis ball can cause a blockage imagine what a rock could do. Those rocks will not only ruin his teeth but will eventually send you both running to the vet as an emergency case.
You might want to consider teaching Buck that rocks are very bad. The dog must learn that a negative stimulus is coming should he want to grab a rock with his mouth. Buck has already figured out rocks are good and moving to a new location or removing the rocks will not cure his urge to eat rocks. If it were my dog Mr. E Collar would be coming out of the closet and those rocks would suddenly become something bad to bite on.
08-16-2007, 10:12 AM
Gunner is a rock lover...doesn't eat them, just rolls them around and herds them. Yes, rocks need herding too. He learned this from a friends dog a few years ago that did it in a creek bed. Gunner now figures that any rock bigger than a baseball is worth herding. He'll sit in the back yard for an hour barking and moving the rocks, and you wonder why he is affectionately called DUM DUM GUNN....LOL
08-16-2007, 11:09 AM
Oh don't I know it's bad! Luckily Buck's teeth are beautiful, so maybe he's not chewing on them (although he is a chewer, ate a good portion of my wood deck - he's got a hard bone to chew on if he wants to chew something). He seems to take the rocks into the garage and does something with them there (eats them!). I wish I could video tape him to see how he does it, because otherwise, he shows no interest in them in front of us - we've never seen him pick them up, and when we "talk" to him about it, we've put the rocks in front of him, put them in his mouth, ask him "do you do this?" and then give him a very, very firm, loud NO, to where he's crying cause he knows he's been bad. We had very good luck with our yellow lab, Hank, who was a digger with that method - but Buck is the difficult child. I don't see how a shock collar would work (if that's what an E-collar is) as we'd have to catch him doing it. Personally, I'm wondering if Hank is egging him on and then sits back and watches him get in trouble, remembering when he was the one. Or, maybe he just thinks the rocks need to go and he's going to eat them one by one to get rid of them! I'd rather he just herd them like Gunner does, into one nice pile!! I guess we'll try the soap/cayenne trick next - we did that with Hank and even stuck his nose in the hole he was digging with very hot tobasco sauce in it (bought the jumbo jar), but he came up licking his chops- loving it! But he did eventually stop. Also, maybe chicken wire over the rocks - it is just around the perimeter of this yard. Thanks for your feedback...
01-17-2009, 04:10 PM
We just lost our black lab mix to rock eating. She was a repeat offender and nothing we tried stopped her. We have no idea how she got the fatal one as everything is covered in snow! She has had surgery, has passed as many as 5 at a time and has thrown up many on her own. This last one was large and jagged.....no idea how she even got it down. We had to put her down at 3 yrs of age because of the damage the rocks did.....we are heartbroken:( Hoping to find another fur kid in the spring.....the house is just too quiet. I have no idea what breed to look at as it seems many breeds to this......I am terrified we may end up with another rock eater.......I wish you all the best of luck and hope your dogs give up this very bad habit!!!!
01-17-2009, 05:02 PM
I hate to admit it, but Craig is right. lol If you cannot catch the dog with a rock to reprimand, than a boundary has to be set around the entire rock area. If this problem is not solved, I assure you your pup will pass. If you have never heard of boundary or threshold training, pm me, or I am sure some one else will pipe in. The dog will get a negative response any time it crosses into a certain portion of the yard. (not necessarily electronically) It's a lab, therefore the hot stuff won't work, and.....it's a lab, therefore he will get rocks through the chicken wire, which will make it more of a challenge and lots of fun....best of luck...
01-18-2009, 08:54 PM
First figure out why he is doing it, pica can be an effect of boredom. Then prevent it from happening by replacing the bad behavior with a good or by preventing it all together (removing the rocks or removing the dog from the rocks) until the dog finds another behavior to replace it.
More exercise, more enrichment, change the schedule up a bit, more training (teach a leave it and a drop it)
More hard chew toys (knuckle bones, frozen bones, tire toys, etc..)
Stuffed food dispensers placed all over the yard (buster cube, kong, tug a jug, busy buddy)
A pool filled with water and toys or sand and toys to provide a fun place to make a mess and be a dog!
The problem with soap/hot sauce or any punishment is that you didn't fix why he is doing it. He isn't doing it to be a pain in the ass or to be bad, it is sufficing some need/desire of his. Figure out what that is and replace it with another alternative and problem solved.
Trust me, I have raised a mal pup and a lab pup in a very small condo and backyard filled with bark and I have never had any destructive issues!!
01-18-2009, 09:54 PM
Doesn't sound like you have to be convinced that this behavior is very very bad, but I'll add my own story to it. Several years ago, I was visiting a friend who had a new puppy who right in front of me and the owner ate a rock before we could stop her that got stuck in her throat. We drove the puppy to emergency but she died soon after arriving (believe me -- the horror of it can't be forgotten and sprang to mind again when I read the thread). So I'm with Craig and the others that it's worth taking drastic measures to stop your rock eater.
I've only had 1 of my 7 Labs (Hannah, who has been our most driven/obsessive dog) who was a rock eater as a puppy and we put temporary boundary fence around all the rock areas of the yard. That's a physical boundary option but you can also work on electronic or other trained boundaries too. We also got large river rocks (4-5" diameter) to cover the dirt areas with the smaller rocks she was eating. It was a hassle, expense, and reduced the yard size, but we had to keep Hannah safe. We tried all sorts of sprays but none could cover enough of the area (especially that might rinse off in the Winter). Like yours, Hannah knew we didn't want her eating rocks so she didn't do it when we were nearby and clearly watching. We would have tried e/shock collars if the boundary fence hadn't stopped her. When we broke the cycle of rock chewing with the barriers, it was fairly easy to get her focused on chewing and retrieving appropriate objects and we made sure she had lots of hard bones and other chew toys plus 5x/day fetching sessions (which has turned her into a pretty good SplashDog!).
The Dog Whisperer had a great episode on re-training a rock-obsessed dog --the dog would chase/chew rocks in front of people which made corrections easier. You might take a look at it along with trying some of the training tips from Sarah and all. Bringing in a trainer to see your yard and observe the dogs might help with other suggestions. But with the 2 fatalities listed here, I hope you can find a way to block the behavior until you can re-train and address the root cause -- you're wise to recognize that the rock chewing could be mean even a life-threatening blockage.
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