You have a dilemma. Your German Shepherd eats everything.
No – not just their meals.
Literally… it’s everything!
Branches of trees, your socks, your daughter’s homework, and even their own poop. You’re sure that if they can eat your whole house, they will eat it, too.
It’s driving you crazy.
But thankfully, there’s a solution.
Keep reading to find out:
- The meaning of ‘Pica’.
- The risks of eating non-edible items.
- 7 reasons why your German Shepherd eats everything.
- 5 dangers of what could happen to your German Shepherd if they continue this behavior.
- And more…
Table of contents
- Why does my German Shepherd eat everything?
- 7 reasons why your German Shepherd eats everything
- 5 dangers of your German Shepherd eating everything
- 5 tips on how to stop your German Shepherd from eating everything
Why does my German Shepherd eat everything?
Your German Shepherd eats everything for specific reasons such as their natural instinct, exploring with their mouth, not being fed enough, not getting the right nutrients, having health problems, ‘Pica’, being bored, or suffering from separation anxiety.
7 reasons why your German Shepherd eats everything
#1: They explore with their mouth
You enjoy taking your dog for a walk. The sun is out and the weather is nice.
Everything is going well until they pull hard on their leash all of a sudden. Then you hear a crunching sound.
You try to pry open your dog’s mouth. They resist with all their might.
And now everyone is looking at you. You pray that they don’t think you’re hurting your dog.
At last, you manage to take out a huge rock from your dog’s mouth.
What a relief!
This isn’t the first time though. You often wonder: Why does this happen?
Your German Shepherd may be starting to discover new things. Especially if they are still a puppy or they are in a new environment.
This includes sniffing and having a taste of anything they could get their hands on. Or rather, their paws.
It doesn’t mean that they are hungry. Sometimes, they really are just eating machines!
#2: It’s their natural instinct
German Shepherds have good senses. This is why they are considered as some of the most effective guard dogs.
But yours isn’t a guard dog.
Yes, they do sniff. But they also treat themselves once in a while. Through licking and eating things.
But before you give your canine some downtime, try to understand them. Why do they do these things?
Let’s take it back to where it all began.
One word: wolves.
A wolf’s natural ability is to hunt for food. But after some time, they learned the ways they can scavenge food from humans.
And then they were able to eat without having to hunt.
But the food was limited back then. So they used to stuff themselves with everything before the food ran out again.
This instinct is still intact until today.
Our dogs will go through our trash or would eat scraps from our table. They would eat anything we offer them.
Check out also: 7 Reasons Why German Shepherds Eat Bees + 3 Dangers & 3 Tips
#3: They are not fed enough
You once went to a picnic with your German Shepherd. All was going well until they drove their heads right in the picnic mat. You cover your face in embarrassment.
Even if your dog just ate a minute ago, they always look for food. Why is that?
The reason why they eat everything could be because you are not feeding them enough.
German Shepherds are large dogs. Their average weight ranges from 49 pounds to 88 pounds (22 kg to 39 kg).
With that weight, they have to be fed correctly. If not, they will look for food sources elsewhere.
You might also be interested in: 7 Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Eats Poop + 7 Tips
#4: Not getting the right nutrients
Have you ever wondered if your German Shepherd is a vegetarian?
Your dog loves to eat grass.
Wherever you go for walks, they stay in one place and gobble on some fresh greens. Then they vomit them.
But that’s not all…
Your dog also enjoys eating feces for reasons you don’t know. They would eat their own poop or other dogs’. And then they would also try other animal’s stool delicacies like cow dung.
Sometimes, they would go for the cat’s litter box for a quick bite…
It’s disgusting, to say the least. Especially when they also love to give you kisses afterward.
There’s a reason why your dog loves eating grass and feces. This could be because they need certain nutrients. (Also, see ‘Pica’ below.)
If they eat grass all the time, they could be lacking in fiber.
Or they just love the taste of organic goodies.
Take note that there’s no harm in that. (Well, unless they are eating poisonous plants. In which case, you should take them to a vet immediately.)
“What’s harmful is eating feces?”, you may ask.
The stool may have parasitic worms that can lead to stomach problems.
But if your dog eats feces, it means they may have nutritional deficiencies. You can resolve this by letting them take multivitamins.
#5: Health problems
Ever wondered why your dog eats like tomorrow is the end of the world?
If your German Shepherd is eating non-stop, this could be because of medical reasons.
They may have a parasite in their small intestine such as tapeworms that can cause them to be hungry all the time.
Think of it as being pregnant.
A mom could be eating for two: herself and the baby in her womb.
Whereas your dog is also eating for two: for themself and the tapeworm.
But don’t worry. Getting rid of these tapeworms isn’t as painful as giving birth.
Taking them to the vet for some medications should do the trick.
Have you heard of the disorder known as ‘Pica’? It’s an eating disorder that makes humans eat non-edible items like dirt, cigarette butts, or hair.
But it doesn’t apply only to humans. Dogs also experience this.
Pica is a compulsive disorder which could be caused by behavioral reasons such as fear or stress.
An example of this is when they fear punishment for destroying something. So to get rid of the evidence, they would eat it instead.
Note that this behavior is dangerous.
It could cause a loss of appetite, stomach problems, and choking. To put an end to ‘Pica’, ask for help from dog behaviorists and veterinarians.
You might also like: 9 Reasons Why Your German Shepherd Eats Dirt + 7 Tips
#7: They are bored
Whenever we get bored or stressed, we watch movies and munch on some snacks.
We treat food as our source of comfort. After we eat, we are satisfied.
Is your dog the same? Are they eating everything they can find because they have nothing else to do?
If yes, then you might want to keep them more active.
On some rare occasions, they can also get bored with their food. They love variety so they eat other things that for some reason, look tastier for them.
Like your new bag or your children’s books.
Bonus: Separation anxiety
Every time you come home, your German Shepherd leaves you with surprises. Unfortunately, those are not the ones that make you happy.
A half-eaten door jamb. Bits and pieces of your sofa. Toilet paper crumbs. Leftover fast-food packaging.
You’re worried that one day you’ll become homeless.
As much as you want to give your dog some lessons, you should also try to understand them.
This behavior is a common problem for dogs, especially those who came from an animal shelter.
Your dog could be experiencing separation anxiety every time you leave them. That’s why they resort to eating everything for comfort.
But if this happens all the time, it could lead to serious health problems.
5 dangers of your German Shepherd eating everything
Your German Shepherd eating everything is not the only problem you have now.
If they continue with this behavior, they could be facing serious health risks such as:
- Bad breath.
- Difficulty in passing stool.
- Choking and obstruction in breathing.
- Stomach problems due to parasites from eating feces.
You want to stop these unwanted actions. To do that, you must first pinpoint when they started to happen.
In doing so, you can effectively give them proper training and treatment.
5 tips on how to stop your German Shepherd from eating everything
#1: Feed them right
If your German Shepherd gets the munchies even after you feed them, chances are they are still hungry.
It may not be your intention, but you could be underfeeding your dog.
According to PetMD, the best way to check this is to take him to the vet. They will be able to conduct physical examinations of your dog.
Then the vet can determine the amount of food your dog needs based on his weight and daily activities.
Or you can also assess them at home. To know your German Shepherd’s daily caloric needs, you can use this simple formula:
30 x weight in kg (or pounds divided by 2.2) + 70 = daily caloric needs
It’s also important not to overfeed your dog. If they are inactive, feeding them a large amount of food can lead to obesity.
Make sure that they get a balanced diet and proper nutrition.
#2: Give them attention
One of the reasons why your dog eats everything is because of separation anxiety.
But as much as you like to be with them 24/7- it’s impossible.
What you can do instead is spend quality time when you’re with them. When you leave, reassure them that you will be back.
You can also try leaving your worn clothes with them. This will give them comfort whenever they smell it.
Leave them in an environment away from the things they can chew and eat.
And If you have extra money to spend, you can leave them with a dog sitter or a walker. They will keep your dog active, even if you are not with them.
#3: Eating as an experience
Here’s a trivia. Japanese people have long lives because they treat eating as an experience. They eat with a purpose.
They have a schedule whenever they eat. And they control their portions.
Like the Japanese, you can train your German Shepherd not to overeat. This is done by scheduling their meals.
Also, avoid giving them snacks before meals. This will train them to only eat at the right time.
You can make your dog relate eating to motivation.
Whenever they play or do activities, you can give them a delicious meal as a reward.
Not only will they get plenty of exercise, but they will not try to look for other inedible things.
#4: Train them young
They are the most adorable creatures on the face of the Earth. And they could also be the most naughty.
Since they are still teething and weaning, they like to chew on anything they could see. Like their toys or your shoes.
Whichever comes first.
Eating and chewing on things is a common problem for puppies.
More often than not, they will outgrow this behavior once they mature.
But to make things easier, train them while they are still pups. You can correct this behavior by correcting them as early as possible.
Teach them not to eat inedible things by using the ‘Leave it’ or ‘Drop it’ commands. Reinforce good behavior in eating by giving them treats for a job well done.
Take note that even though your German Shepherd is all grown up, you can still teach them these tricks.
They are very smart dogs!
#5: Be the best in their eyes
Did the ‘Leave it’ and ‘Drop it’ commands didn’t work on your German Shepherd? Try distracting them instead.
Whenever they have the urge to eat your furniture, try to turn their attention to yourself. Play with them.
This will make them think twice:
Will they eat the delicious table? Or play with you – their most favorite human in the world?
Make sure that you always have something better to offer.
If you’re walking in a park and they are trying to eat something off the road, bring out the tastiest beef jerky.
Your dog will think – “Hmmmm, a tasteless branch or yummy snack from my human?”
Which one do you think they will choose?
This neat trick is also known as the ‘Trade’ command.
It’s giving them the option to exchange whatever they have for a more delicious treat that you can offer them.