When it comes to exploring their environment, puppies are exactly like their human counterparts; they love to put things in their mouths. Some objects are harmless, but others, such as rocks, can cause digestive upset. Prevent your puppy from picking up rocks and keep his tummy healthy and happy.
Remove loose rocks and stones from your property. If your landscaping includes a large number of stones, spray them with a pet deterrent spray. These sprays are bitter and your puppy may steer clear of bitter stones.
Train your puppy to “leave it.” Hold a small treat in your closed fist and hold your hand out to the dog. As soon as he sniffs your hand, tell him “leave it” in a firm voice. As soon as your puppy turns his head away and ignores your hand, tell him “good boy” and give him the treat. When he is consistently ignoring your hand, take him out in the yard and turn him loose. If he moves to pick up a rock, tell him “leave it” and call him to you, giving him a treat when he walks away from the rocks. Repeat the process until he moves away from the rocks when he hears the command.
Fill a squirt bottle with water, and spray the puppy when he picks up stones. Stand quietly and observe the puppy, and squirt him while saying “no” in a loud, harsh voice. The goal is to startle the dog, causing him to drop the rock and walk away. With repeated sessions, he will associate rocks with an unpleasant scare and seek out other ways to stay occupied.
Set up an exercise pen in a rock-free section of your yard. Exercise pens are adjustable panels that can be arranged in a variety of shapes to accommodate any yard. These sturdy pens provide a barrier that prevents your puppy from wandering the yard and picking up stray rocks. Place a water bowl in the pen if the puppy is left outside on warm days.
Muzzle the dog if he persists. Purchase a soft fabric muzzle, and gently slide it over his nose. Secure it tightly behind his ears, adjusting the straps if necessary to keep it from sliding off his muzzle. Soft muzzles allow the dog to breathe normally and drink water, but prevent the dog from opening his mouth wide enough to pick up stones.
- Call your vet if you suspect your dog has swallowed a rock. Stones can cause serious intestinal problems, and large stones may require surgical removal.
- Observe your dog at all times while he is wearing a muzzle. He could be injured if the muzzle gets caught on a solid object.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.