Does your dog eat everything that comes in front of its mouth like a vacuum cleaner? Meaning they chew anything from toilet paper to your lovely throw pillow. My pup Luna belongs to this species. I can’t react as quickly as she swallows things. Sometimes it’s leftover food that she finds next to a garbage can, and sometimes it’s horse droppings or other remains. I always worry that she might catch poison bait or something else.
It can be very dangerous for a dog to eat whatever it can find. So, in this article, I’ll advise some solutions to get rid of your dog’s nasty chewing habits.
What is a Vacuum Cleaner Dog
This very figurative term is self-evident. They are dogs that really eat everything they find and stop at nothing. They consume food as well as things that we think are completely disgusting, such as animal or human feces.
When my dog Luna is enthusiastic about cow dung, its appetite often has unpleasant consequences. It has happened more than once when she vomits or gets diarrhea. Luckily, she’s never been caught by poison bait. If a dog eats one of these, it can have dire health consequences and even be fatal.
This is How You Stop Your Dog From Eating Whatever It Can Find
Your first impulse may be to scold or spank. It is understandable, but not useful. By yelling at or punishing your dog, he only learns the opposite. In the future, he will gulp down what he finds even faster in order to get it to a safe place in time. From his point of view, what he eats is nothing bad. Some dogs learn by the punishment that they will secretly eat things that they find on the way in the future. Others defend their discovery.
None of these behaviors bring you closer to your goal. Instead, they just make it more difficult to prevent your dog from eating whatever it found. Therefore, you should never punish your canine friend or yell at them.
If your dog is still a puppy, you should train him not to pick up anything from the floor from the start. As a young dog, it loves exploring anything by sniffing, chewing, licking, and eating. As soon as your dog eats something it discovers for the first time, it has already achieved initial success with this behavior. The more often he can act out this behavior, the more difficult it will be to stop him from doing it again.
However, that does not mean that there is nothing you can do to teach your adult dog. Here, however, it is important not to offer him any sense of achievement and, if necessary, put on a muzzle on him.
Practise Muzzle Training
One way to keep your dog from chewing things it finds is to get it used to a dog muzzle. A dog muzzle can not only be used to keep it from biting, but also for many other situations. There is even a special poison bait protection muzzle.
A muzzle can be a helpful solution if your dog has already established the behavior and you don’t know how else to stop him. You may also want to go on vacation and make sure your dog doesn’t eat anything there.
A muzzle is also well suited as a temporary solution for the training period. You can continue to practice with your dog that he does not pick up anything from the floor and protect him in the meantime with the muzzle.
Anyway, it is important that you don’t force your dog to wear the strange object, but to get him used to it step by step.
In anti-poison-bait training, you practice with your dog that he stops before it finds food and shows you that it has found it. The last step is to retrieve the thing it finds.
You can probably imagine that this practice won’t work overnight. It is necessary that you practice often with your dog for it to work in the long term.
The anti-poison bait training consists of three training steps:
Stop before feeding
Here you teach your dog to just look at the food on the floor. He should stop at the sight of the food he has found instead of running over and devouring it. This training only works through positive reinforcement, because your dog should like to show the new behavior, not out of fear.
Discipline your dog by practicing sitting instead of eating.
Only when the first step works really well does the next one come. Now your dog should not only stop but sit down when they see the food they find. By showing you that he has discovered something to eat, you can reward him for it.
Have Food Retrieved
In the last step, you retrieve the food from the floor that has been found. You train your dog to turn away from something edible with a certain signal by rewarding him with treats. Anti-poison bait training is very effective if you practice it properly.
If your dog chews on or eats something in its mouth that he is not supposed to, get him to spits it out and take the object away. Again, the positive reward is the key to success. A standard signal that every dog should know is swapping. Offer your furball toy or chewing treats as a substitute to redirect his interest. Maybe you say “off” to it. Then your dog should learn to give things away and get something else in return.
- Toy versus toy
- Toys versus treats
- a bone for something else tasty
By doing this, you avoid your dog defending things but giving them away voluntarily, especially when it comes to poison bait, which can be life-saving under certain circumstances.
It is difficult to explain why some dogs are more like vacuum cleaners and others are not. There are stray dogs who eat real gourmets in their new homes and don’t touch anything off the street. And there are pedigree dogs that devour everything that comes under their noses. Finding the reason for the behavior is almost impossible and will not get you anywhere. The only way to prevent your dog from eating anything he can find is through training or wearing a muzzle.