A common complaint among those living with puppies is that they eat everything they can when outside. . . grass, dirt, leaves, sticks, feces from geese, rabbits, deer, and other animals and sometimes rocks, garbage or anything else they find when on a walk or out in the back yard.

While some dogs can easily get sick from some of these things, others seem to be able to eat just about anything and seem just fine. If your dog does get an upset stomach easily, then you definitely want to be more careful about what s/he eats. However, some of this behavior with puppies (and sometimes older dogs too) is natural and not something to get too worried about.

As with other areas of our lives, we have to learn to pick our battles. I see some clients who panic at their puppies chewing on a stick or a pine cone. I never made a big deal about it when Romeo was a puppy, but I did watch him carefully. As with anything, items put in mouths can become choking hazards. Sticks can get lodged in throats. But so can bones and toys. Any item can be dangerous at times, even if it’s something produced specifically for puppies. If some people knew how many sticks Romeo ate when he was a puppy and adolescent, they would be appalled! Yep, I did let him chew on sticks. Was it ideal? No, of course not, but he had a great desire to chew and on my income, I can only afford so many bully sticks!

Many puppies eat grass and dirt. Is it harmful to them? In most cases, no. But you do need to think about where this grass and dirt is coming from. Eating grass for most dogs is not a big deal, but if it’s treated with pesticides, then yes, you’d better be very careful! We do not use any pesticides on our property and Romeo eats grass pretty much every day on our walks. He throws up maybe once a year. He seems to enjoy it, and I don’t have a problem with it because I know there are no dangerous chemicals on the grass.

While we certainly don’t want our puppies (or adult dogs) eating certain things – rocks would be a good example – there are others that are perhaps not such a big deal in moderation. Most puppies will outgrow their desire to eat everything. For others, the behavior will lessen but perhaps not go away entirely.

However, if we make too big a deal out of it, then it can become a more obsessive behavior that turns into a more serious problem. Decide whether it really needs to be a battle between you and your puppy or if you can let some of it go. Just keep a close watch to make sure it’s not dangerous and your puppy doesn’t get sick from it. Otherwise, eating a little grass and dirt and a stick here and there perhaps isn’t such a bad thing after all.

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