This month's "Good Goldens" blog question comes from a GRRA supporter curious about how to stop their adopted Golden from constantly chewing / ingesting harmful objects such as rocks, sticks, plastic items, cans, etc. that are potentially dangerous to a dog's health.
Once again, we've called upon the professional expertise of our canine training and behavioral partner Chris McLeod of The Canine Ranch in Canton, GA to address this specific concern and give everyone some advice to successfully keep your Golden from hurting themselves by eating an unsafe object in or around your home.
First off, I would highly suggest checking with your Veterinarian since there may be an underlying medical condition that could be causing this condition. However, if the Golden gets a clean bill of health, my first suggestion is usually to change your protein source in your dog food.
Sometimes your dog may be having a small reaction to the protein source or the AMOUNT of protein they’re receiving in the food they ingest. I remember being surprised to learn that a dog food distributor once told us he wouldn’t even sell a particular version of one brand of dog food because the protein was SO high that it made dogs spin in circles (literally).
My second suggestion would be to change brands of foods as well. Sometimes we get lucky and it’s that simple --- you never know.
So, what if we’re not lucky? We may need to learn to modify their environment by keeping these items constantly out of reach --- by making sure that the dog doesn’t have access to them and that you have complete control over the dog’s choices.
If you have a great relationship with your dog, they’ll actually go against their nature to please you. My Border Collie dropped on command after breaking her leg when she was racing back to me from across the pasture (when every step was causing her more pain - it was awful). She was screeching in pain and trying to get back to me from an acre away and I screamed at her to "DOWN" and she instantly plopped into a down even though she wanted nothing more than to be at my side that instant. You can achieve a "LEAVE IT" with rocks, sticks, and other harmful objects if you work at it over time with your adopted Golden Retriever.
Another option is to increase exercise for your Golden --- not just physically but mentally, too. I suggest that you consider for dogs the parallel for children --- Would you send your child to school for 8 hours of recess and 1 hour of education? No! So, let’s consider how we can mentally AND physically engage these wonderful creatures so that they are engaged with us and the world and not finding ways to engage themselves out of boredom or being idle.
If your world is already overcrowded with activities, another thing to maybe consider here is teaching at-home scent games with a Kong filled with different types of smells (starting with peanut butter and branching out from there). Make it easy to find the Kong in the beginning and then slowly make it harder to find. You’ll soon have a K-9 sniffing detective on your hands and perhaps a bit of relief from some of the bad eating habits they've picked up in the past.
Thanks so much, Chris! Wonderfully helpful information as always. Do you have a "Good Goldens" blog question you'd like to ask Chris McLeod from The Canine Ranch? Any training or behavioral issues you need some suggestions about regarding your adopted Golden? Please feel free to comment on this link and we'll be happy to pass along to her for you. We will post the answer in our next monthly blog. Have a Good Golden Day, everyone!