You’re enjoying a walk with your German Shepherd. Until you hear him chewing on something…
You look at him and oh no, is that a rock he is eating?
Questions start popping in your head .
Why does my dog do this? Is it dangerous? And what should be done to prevent this from happening again?
There are several reasons why your dogs may have suddenly gotten the craving for rocks and gravel.
In this article, you’ll discover:
- The reasons why your German Shepherd eats rocks
- What risks there are if your German Shepherd continues the behavior
- 5 easy tips you can follow to prevent your German Shepherd from eating rocks
- And much much more…
Table of contents
- Why does my German Shepherd eat rocks?
- Why does my German Shepherd puppy eat rocks?
- 5 reasons why your German Shepherd eats rocks
- 7 tips on what to do if your German Shepherd eats rocks
Why does my German Shepherd eat rocks?
Your German Shepherd eats rocks due to one or more of the following reasons: boredom, anxiety, stress, they like the smell and taste on rocks, or they may be suffering from a medical issue.
Why does my German Shepherd puppy eat rocks?
German Shepherd puppies may be eating rocks simply because they are curious. They are natural explorers and may be drawn to many things, including rocks. Some puppies may also be teething and they chew rocks to alleviate the pain, while others just have nothing else to do.
5 reasons why your German Shepherd eats rocks
#1: They are bored
One of the simplest answers to this is that your German Shepherd is just plain bored!
Perhaps you have not been paying them too much attention. Or they are not being stimulated enough that’s why they resort to eating rocks.
While other dogs are okay with lounging around the house all day, German Shepherds were bred to work as livestock herders. This means that they require a lot of simulation.
Has your dog been spending most of its time indoors? Do you take them out for a walk, exercise or just to play?
Bear in mind that your German Shepherd is an intelligent animal and they will need to be stimulated.
If left on their own and without enough stimulation, they would definitely look for some form of entertainment. This may include eating rocks or other objects, or even destroying things.
Reading tip: Why does my German Shepherd eat poop?
#2: They are feeling stressed or anxious
There are three things that the AKC lists as the most common reasons why dogs are stressed or anxious.
The first is fear. There are several things that dogs can be afraid of. It can be their environment or a person. Some are afraid of storms or other loud sounds.
The next reason for anxiety is related to their age. Older dogs may have a condition called cognitive dysfunction syndrome which can be the reason for feeling anxious.
And last but not least is separation anxiety, which apparently affects more than 10% of dogs. The University of Lincoln has published research that identified 4 root causes of separation anxiety in dogs.
Aside from eating rocks, your German Shepherd may also be doing any of the following: too much barking, aggression, and urinating or defecating all over the house.
#3: They simply like the smell
Dogs are particularly attracted to smell. Perhaps the rocks are under your grill and your dog can smell the grease. They proceed to eat the rocks because the smell reminds them of tasty food.
Or they could just be curious. Puppies in particular, love to explore. Smelling and tasting the things around them actually allows them to understand their environment better.
Warning: The problem is that rocks pose a choking hazard. They can also cause gastrointestinal obstruction.
That’s why you need to keep an eye on your puppies and dogs so that you can stop them right away if they get curious about rocks and gravel.
#4: They enjoy the taste of rocks
To us humans, eating rocks may sound really gross. But dogs are not wired the same.
There are even dogs who like to chew and eat grass. It not only tastes good for them, but it can even provide them some nourishment.
Also, if your German Shepherds are not getting enough nutrition, they may feel hungry all the time.
This may be the reason that they will just start eating whatever is near them (including rocks!) just to ease the discomfort of a rumbling stomach.
#5: They may have a medical issue
Have you heard about Pica? According to PetMD, it is a condition where dogs crave for something that is not edible.
Those who are afflicted with pica may eat anything from rocks, socks, and the like. Pica affects all kinds of breeds, regardless of their age or gender.
There is no specific test that can determine whether your German Shepherd has pica.
The diagnosis usually comes from observing your dog’s behavior. After the diagnosis however, it is still important to find out what exactly caused the pica to manifest.
The underlying cause could again be a medical issue. Your German Shepherd might have parasites in his body, or suffering from hormonal imbalance or even diabetes. Other times it can be due to stress and fear.
BONUS: They want your attention
Have you been so busy with work that you are spending more time away from home? Perhaps this could be the cause of your dog’s sudden craving for rocks!
Dogs are social animals and when left for long periods of time, it may make them do things they have never done before.
Perhaps the rock-eating is just their way of acting out and getting your attention.
Make sure to shower your German Shepherd with lots of love and attention. Go for a walk with them daily. Play with them and talk to them, and make them a part of your family.
7 tips on what to do if your German Shepherd eats rocks
If you see your German Shepherd eat rocks, you need to do something about it immediately. This could lead to health issues that will not only cost you money but could also put their lives in danger.
Some of the possible complications include:
- Chipped teeth.
- An upset stomach.
- A perforated stomach.
- A blockage in their intestines.
Some of these conditions will require medical care and even surgery, so it’s best to address the issue right away.
For more information, follow these tips:
#1: Go to your veterinarian
Once you see your German Shepherd eating rocks, take them to the veterinarian right away.
Your dog may have already swallowed some rocks. In this case your vet can run an X-ray to determine if there is any blockage.
Even if there is no blockage, your vet may also help you find the reason why your dog is eating rocks.
Aside from getting a medical history, some blood tests and even fecal analysis may also be required.
Once a diagnosis has been made, your veterinarian can easily address the issue.
Whether it is that they lack nutrition or suffering from separation anxiety, professional advice would help to curb your dog’s impulse.
#2: Ensure that they are eating right
Perhaps your dogs are not getting enough food and nourishment. That could be the reason why they have started eating rocks in the first place.
Or, maybe they don’t like the taste of their own dog food.
Make sure that they are getting enough vitamins and minerals in their food. There are nutritional guidelines that you can check out to see if you are feeding your German Shepherd the proper food.
Some of the important ingredients that must be present in their food are:
- Vitamin D, A, E, K and B12.
- Minerals such as iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and selenium.
#3: Give lots of time for exercise
German Shepherds need lots of exercise. If you are not able to walk your dog regularly, consider hiring a dog walker.
Ideally, your dog should be getting at least 1 hour of exercise.
It’s also good to note that dog owners actually benefit a lot from exercise compared to those who do not own one, as noted in this research.
Take advantage of this and take your German Shepherd to the dog park during the weekend. It will not only stop your dog from getting bored, but you get the benefits of exercise as well.
What exercises can you enjoy with your German Shepherd? Walking, running, hiking would help to expend that extra energy they have.
If you have the time, you can go to the beach as well. Swimming is a great form of exercise for German Shepherds. although they are not natural swimmers.
But due to their playful and courageous nature, they may take to swimming well. Not to mention that swimming is gentle on joints and hips.
#4: Keep them away from rocks
This seems simple enough, right? But what can you specifically do?
Well, take a look at the areas around your house. Think of it as baby-proofing your home, but with your German Shepherd.
If there are no rocks around your dog, then they won’t be able to eat them, right? You can easily remove the temptation by cleaning their kennel, or the area around the house.
If you take your German Shepherd on walks, plan your route so that you will not be in paths that have a lot of gravel. There may also be dog parks around your area that are gravel-free.
If you will be leaving them for long periods of time, such as when you go to work, make sure the area where you leave them is free of rocks.
Actually, free it not just from rocks but any other inedible item that they might chew on.
#5: Look for the root cause
Distracting your German Shepherd with toys and training them to leave rocks alone may not be enough. It is still very important that you find out what exactly is causing your dog to go for rocks.
The trip to the vet may help with determining whether it is a medical issue. If it is a behavioral issue, then you can make changes to address it.
Be sure to observe your German Shepherd so you can understand what is driving them to such behavior.
#6: Train them to not eat rocks
While it may be possible to free your home of rocks that your German Shepherd may consume, the same cannot be said for when you go out of the house. The best thing to do then is to train your dogs.
The best commands to use are “No”, or “Drop it”, or “Leave it”. You can interchange this depending on the situation.
There are dogs that would bring the rocks to their owner, seemingly asking permission if they could have it. Of course, you should readily say no.
For instances when you would see them going near rocks, or eating away at them, make sure to tell them to leave it or drop it.
When doing this, ensure you are not shouting or angry.
If your German Shepherd is still a puppy, you can teach them the commands. They will come in handy because you will not just be using the commands to stop them from eating rocks.
Don’t forget the treats and affection once they follow your instructions. These are great rewards that they will anticipate and will help them be motivated to do well in the training.
#7: Give them other things to chew on
Aside from training your German Shepherd to listen to your commands, you need to give them another thing to focus on.
Chew toys are a great distraction. If you have the budget, buy more than one chew toy so they could have their choice of what to munch on.
If you only present them with one type of toy, they will get bored with it. This is the same as a toy for a child.
No one wants to play with just one type of toy for the rest of their childhood right?
So buy several and then rotate the toys, introducing a new toy every once in a while.
Bring a toy or two with you every time you go on a walk. This way, you will have something to distract them if they start going towards a rocky area.