Pica In Dogs – Simple Steps To Prevent & Cure

德国赛车Pica in dogs is a real concern when you have a dog who compulsively eats non-food items. These can be focussed on just one item e.g. stones to simply everything and anything. Pica in dogs is the obsessive ingestion of non-food items. We discuss why dogs will eat non-food items and how to help them kick the habit.

Caroline explains Pica in dogs

Pica in dogs – why do dogs do it

The reasons your dog eats non-food items can be as a result of a medical issue or purely behavioural. Some dogs will eat anything from stones, plastics, metals, wood and everything in between. Remember Pica is actually ingesting the item as opposed to simply chewing on it.

Pica in dogs can be eating any non food item from toys to stones and toxic plants and berries
Pica in dogs can be eating anything from soft toy stuffing to stones and toxins

Medical reasons for Pica in dogs

These can be anything from Gastro-intestinal issues including parasitic infestations or a poor diet. So do rule out any of these physical abnormalities or issues with your vet in the first instance.

德国赛车With any behavioural modification programme, if the underlying cause is medical, you are on a no win path unless you address these first.

Behavioural Reasons for Pica in Dogs

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Separation anxiety,
  • Anxiety in certain places.
  • Anxiety with certain people
  • Anxiety in certain situations
  • Not enough time in the company of other living beings (Lonely)
  • Low Mental stimulation and exercise.
  • Lack of sleep ( 16 hours in a 24hour period is a healthy sleep quota)
  • Possession of an item

Puppies Chew ; This is not Pica.

德国赛车It can become Pica in dogs as they mature. This is very much dependant on your reaction to normal puppy chewing.

It becomes Pica in adolescence (average age beginning of adolescence is 4 to 6months) and adulthood when you fuss and worry, grab and chase to get the item off your puppy

Human reaction to a puppy discovering the world through mouthing items. Its natural for puppies to discover the world through testing and trying things by mouthing and chewing. Sometimes puppies will swallow items but will soon grow out of this habit if their guardians do not make a big deal about it and simply walk out of the room or space, your pup will automatically stop chewing and come find you. Or you could try a recall and run away, whick will have the same effect. Then praise for recall and give them someting more appropriate to chew on.

If you rush towards your puppy they are likely to run away with the item and if small enough they will swallow it whole. Then you’ve begun the slippery slop to pica in your adult dog.

Pica in dogs – Prevention

As with anything prevention is better than cure. It’s quite simple. Make no big deal about anything. Guide, connect and ensure your puppy feels, safe, happy and understood for who and what they are.

When you are calm, all is calm around you. It starts with you. Your emotions and feelings.

First rule of thumb; Do not make a big deal about puppies chewing. See above for solution if they have the wrong thing in their mouths.

  • Healthy species appropriate diet
  • Exercise
  • Mental stimulation
  • Connection to you
  • To Feel safe and understood
  • Prevent/cure separation anxiety
  • Calm well-balanced dog
  • Plenty of sleep
Pica in dogs reduces when they have valuable deep sleep

Pica In Dogs – The Cure

德国赛车Above I’ve noted how to prevent pica. It really is straightforward. Give your puppy and dog a lhappy fulfilled connected family life. These are also the cure with some extras for management as you’re going through the motions of cure. Cure can take months or years. When your dog is calm and relaxed. Feels supported, exerised appropriately, has company for a vast majority of the dy and gets great deep sleep.

Note location & situation

Where is this mot likely to happen? Who or what is about? Noting what casues your dog anxiety to rise, over excitement recation towards anything will have a negative effect. Or do they block out the world ( Displacing behaviour / to ingonre the world or stimuli)and nose down hunting for their prefered item? Either way your dog reacts and you need to change to a low stimuluas location. Home garden or out in a natural environment. Read your dog and find their ghappy relaxed connected head in the environment they can do that. You also have to be relaxed and happy in that environment for them to feed off your emotions and feelings.


This will certainly make you more confident moving forward. You need to be super relaxed. Acclimatise your dog to a muzzle slowly with empathy. There is no rush, we want then to wear it with a happy heart.

Connection on short lead and long line

Being connected and inspiring to be with. If all you do is go out with a heavy heart a=full of anxiety then your dog will struggle to engage with you. Be upbeat, physical contact, verbal praise and engage your dog to want to be with you.

So learning to connect and walk with you on a short line and recall and connect on a long line is paramount initially.

Inspire to play and be with you

德国赛车On the long line play reacll and find a mocel close by that you’ve dropped. Play hide and seek to inspire recall or lay down in the long grass as your dog turns and sees you.

They will race over and you can praise and play. So as opposed to a grumpy “Leave it” command, do recall and praise on return.

Understanding and calmness

Everything your dog does is communication to you and those around them. Understand that a calm canine or one that can be buzzy and then calm in an instant is a happy well-balanced dog.

Pulling, panting, lunging, impatience etc is a dog on his own reactionary mission. Alone in the world. You’re simply holding the lead. So to calm your dog down and connect to you is super important to them and you.


德国赛车When a dog is well rested they will behave better and learn more effectively and also retain that information. 16 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period for adult dogs and more for puppies.

德国赛车 No forced rest within a crate but the ability to naturally totally switch off. See my guide below on how to calm your dog and create great sleep habits.

Protect and solve anxieties

德国赛车Whether you are experiencing your dog eating stones or other unsuitable items its is about reducing anxiety throughout their world. So is=f they are barkers, follow you about, experience separation anxiety, are over the top in behaviour in general and seem to have little self-control. They need help to find their quiet place within.

Dogs are family

Dogs, like us, love company. If left alone for long periods of time your dog will present with many behavioural issues. Its great to solve separation anxiety but to leave your dog for more than 3 or 4 hours is unkind and unfair.

How to have a well balance family dog By Caroline Spencer our Natural Canine Bejaviour Expert

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Caroline Spencer

Caroline is our resident behaviourist. She has spends thousands of hours with dogs and their parents working on help each relate better. Her goal is dog happiness and working with behaviour is only one piece of that mission. You will encounter Caroline talking around the country and on our facebook group working with customers and answering their questions.


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