Perhaps you have noticed that your German Shepherd chews on rocks constantly and even may swallow them. You may be wondering if this is normal dog behavior or is it a result of something else and if you should worry about it.
Why does my German Shepherd chew on rocks? A common cause why a German Shepherd chews on rocks is a medical condition known as pica which is the compulsive urge and desire to eat non-food objects such as trash, plastic, metals, rocks, among other inanimate items. Other than pica, other reasons for this behavior include nutritional deficiency, stress, and anxiety, boredom, relief of teething pain, intestinal parasitic infestation, medical disorder, a call for attention, and simple curiosity. As a German Shepherd owner, you need to know the root cause of why they chew on rocks with the help of your vet so that an appropriate method can be implemented to stop this potentially harmful habit.
This article explores the common reasons why your German Shepherd chews on rocks, the risks associated with this, and how you can stop them from chewing rocks. This will help in knowing the core reason your German Shepherd is engaging in this behavior and how you can help them stop to prevent the associated risks.
Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Chews On Rocks
Similar to coprophagia which is a canine behavior of eating feces or stool, Pica is the desire to eat non-food items and is the common reason why a dog chews on rocks. Other reasons apart from pica also result in this behavior.
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To stop rock chewing by your German Shepherd, you first need to understand the core reason why they’re doing this. This will help you know the appropriate action to take to help stop the habit.
Your vet will help in determining the underlying cause of this behavior, either being from medical or behavioral related causes. The following are the common reasons why a German Shepherd chews on rocks:
German Shepherds get bored easily especially when they’re not engaged physically or mentally. To entertain themselves, they direct their attention to what they can chew on.
Being an energetic dog, a German Shepherd requires outlets of energy but in situations where they do not have these outlets, they find something to do, and chewing of rocks also becomes an option where they direct their attention.
Stress And Anxiety
When a German Shepherd experiences stress or anxiety they might direct this to chew on rocks to cope with the feelings.
Chewing on anything or rocks tends to ease their feelings. This behavior is normally seen in traumatized dogs especially the ones from shelters that have not had an easy life.
Call For Attention
Chewing of rocks is also another way your German Shepherd could be seeking your attention.
They would be knowing that behaving in a particular way, will lead to a reaction from you therefore they may also engage in chewing rocks just to get your attention.
Your dog adores you, they love spending time with you and when they feel they need more of it, they may result in strange behavior to have you focused on them.
Deficiency of vitamins and minerals in a dog’s diet such as magnesium and calcium can lead dogs to have cravings for chewing or eating rocks. It is strange but this is common whereby your dog is drawn to chewing and eating rocks for supplementation of these nutrients.
A thyroid disorder can disrupt a dog’s hormone levels which may lead them to behave in different ways such as having an urge to chew and eat rocks.
It is common during an examination by a vet to include checking if there is a thyroid problem while investigating the root cause of a dog’s rock chewing habit.
Infestation With Intestinal Parasites
Infestation with intestinal parasites can also lead to this behavior.
Intestinal parasites deprive a dog of the essential nutrients they require leading them to start having cravings in this case chewing and eating rocks.
Your vet can easily check for parasites by testing the fecal material of your dog to find out if this is the cause of the behavior.
When your German Shepherd is not getting enough food to be full and satisfied, they may opt to eat anything that they find to fill them up to ease the hunger. They could also choose to chew and eat rocks for this purpose.
Relief Of Teething Pain
Puppies may chew on rocks to ease the discomfort and pain of teething. Teething is a period where adult teeth start emerging from the gums.
It is a painful and uneasy stage where puppies tend to chew on anything in the home to ease the discomfort. Rocks are also a good choice for them if they don’t have anything else to chew on.
Dogs explore the world around them using their sense of smell and taste. It is common to find them chewing or eating odd things such as trash, their own poop, cat litter, or even rocks.
Therefore when this behavior is observed, it is important as a dog owner to discourage and stop it because it can be fatal to your dog.
Is It Okay For Dogs To Chew On Stones?: Risks Associated With Rock-Chewing
It is not ok for dogs to chew on stones because it can be a dangerous habit for them. There are risks associated with this which include:
Punctured Colon Or Stomach
Ingested rocks or stones can cause holes or perforations in the intestines and stomach of your dog which damages their lining. Your dog will be in pain due to this and this requires immediate medical attention.
Take your German Shepherd to the vet immediately if you know or suspect they have swallowed rocks to avoid the risk of damage to their intestines and stomach.
Providing toys such as chew toys to German shepherd puppies or an adult dog will minimize the destruction of items in your home.
Puppies will be able to ease their teething discomfort with toys while the adult German Shepherd will be able to enjoy his chew sessions and jaw stretching moments with an item they are allowed to use.
You can also use these toys in the training sessions to show your dog what items are ok to chew on and what are off-limits. This will help your German Shepherd distinguish what is not allowed and toys that they can chew on.
Swallowed rocks can cause an abdominal blockage.
Intestinal blockages are dangerous because they prevent adequate digestion in the gut which denies your dog nutrition and can cause your dog to become lethargic and also vomit.
This is a serious situation that requires surgery for the removal of the blockage. Immediately see your vet if you think your German Shepherd has swallowed rocks.
When your German Shepherd constantly chews on rocks, this chips away at their teeth which damages them.
In the long run, they will require dental work and sometimes removal of the damaged teeth.
Ingested stones, even small ones can cause irritation in your German Shepherd’s stomach causing them to have diarrhea or vomiting.
Therefore it is important to curb this behavior to prevent stomach upsets as a result of it.
How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Chewing On Rocks?: What To Do
The first step to do when your dog chews on rocks is to visit a vet so that they can examine them to see if the underlying cause is due to nutritional deficiency, health issues, or lifestyle behavior problems.
From this, they will be able to recommend treatment, special diet, or advice on behavior modification.
When any medical-related problem has been ruled out or addressed by the vet, you can implement a plan to help stop your dog from chewing on rocks. The following is what you can do:
Train Them Against The Behaviour
The chewing of rocks as a behavioral problem needs to be addressed to stop it. This requires behavior modification of training to teach your German Shepherd to avoid and stop this habit.
Training includes obedience training where you teach your dog to listen to commands such as “drop it”, “leave it” or “no” when they try to pick rocks. This teaches them to leave the rocks and they will understand not to pick rocks.
Remember to use positive reinforcement every time your German Shepherd understands and obeys and does what is expected of them. Reward them by giving treats, hugs, or praise.
This will encourage them to continue with good behavior. You may also need to engage an animal behaviorist to help with this to provide specialized training to stop the rock chewing habit.
Restrict Access To Rocks
Keep your German Shepherds environment rock-free as much as possible. This will limit access to rocks and also minimize rock chewing.
You can do this by clearing all the rocks in your yard, fencing off a gravel area, or applying spray repellent on the rock area that will discourage your dog from chewing the rocks.
For areas outside your home, take walks with your dog in areas or parks where there are few rocks or gravel.
Coupled with obedience training, your German Shepherd will also listen to you when you instruct them not to pick rocks in case you encounter some.
Provide Adequate Exercise
Your German Shepherd chews on rocks because they have nothing else to do because of lack of mentally and physically stimulating activities.
Due to boredom, they indulge in chewing rocks.
By providing adequate exercise, your dog will be occupied and kept active which will minimize and stop them from engaging in this behavior for lack of something better to do.
Address Nutritional Deficiencies
In consultation with your vet about rock chewing, your vet will examine your dog and provide advice to address any nutrient deficiency that may be the cause of this behavior.
They will recommend the best nutrition to also prevent malnourishment as well as treat parasitic infections if present.
Give Attention To Your German Shepherd
If your German Shepherd chews on rocks as a call of attention from you out of feeling lonely, address this by creating bonding time with them.
You can do this by having fun activities such as walking, playing frisbee, or catch. Time with you is very much valued by a German Shepherd therefore try to make time to direct your attention to them.
Provide Chew Toys
Provide chew toys to your dog which will keep them busy by having something to chew on when they have the natural urge and compulsion of chewing on something.
Your dog may also get bored quickly with their toys and could direct their attention to chewing rocks. To prevent this from happening, have different chew toys on rotation to keep them occupied and entertained so that their attention does not shift to rocks.
Also, provide chew toys for puppies during teething which they can chew on to relieve teething pain.
When your German Shepherd is out playing in the yard, supervise them so that you can prevent rock chewing by directing them not to pick them up.
This will prevent the risks that are associated with rock chewing and swallowing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a dog pass a rock?
A dog can pass a rock if the rock swallowed was small. However, if the rock was large enough it will be hard for it to pass through the digestive system and it will cause an intestinal blockage that requires surgery to remove.
How long does it take for a dog to pass a rock?
Generally, it takes 10 to 24 hours for ingested food to pass through a dog’s and entire digestive system and be excreted. If a dog ingested small rocks, this will take the same time as ingested food to get through the digestive system and be excreted. However, if the ingested rock is too large, it will not pass and will cause blockage in the intestines.
Conclusion: Why does my German Shepherd chew on rocks?
Chewing of rocks is a strange habit that your German Shepherd can engage in and is as a result of different reasons. The most common cause of this behavior is medically referred to as pica which is the desire of eating non-food items.
Other common causes include stress and anxiety, boredom, nutritional deficiency, relief of teething pain, infestation with intestinal parasites, medical disorder, and curiosity. The behavior poses risks to our dog’s health and well-being and should be discouraged and stopped.
I hope this article helped you know and the reasons why a German shepherd chews on rocks, the potential risks associated with this habit, and how you can stop your dog from chewing on rocks. By following the different methods that are provided, you should be able to help your German Shepherd stop this habit.
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