Teaching Puppies Not to Eat off of Dirt

by Amy Hunter
    Teaching your dog to not eat off the dirt is challenging, but can save his life.

    Teaching your dog to not eat off the dirt is challenging, but can save his life.

    Jupiterimages/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

    Puppies, like small children, like to put everything in their mouths. Food or not, if your puppy sees something interesting lying around, he will probably investigate it with his mouth. While most things he picks up will be harmless, he may find an old bone, trash or even something poisonous that can mean expensive vet bills or worse. Put a stop to these worries by teaching him to only eat food out of his dish or when it is offered to him by hand.

    Step 1

    Have a regular spot where you feed your puppy. Whether it is in the kitchen, laundry room or back deck, just make it a spot where he knows he can go to get his meals.

    Step 2

    Teach him the "leave it" command. To do this, set a treat on the ground. When he makes a move for it, tell him to leave it and cover it with your foot. When he backs off and looks at you, hand him another treat from your hand. Continue doing this, varying where you toss the treat, until he automatically looks at you when he sees the treat on the ground. Never give him the treat you have told him to leave.

    Step 3

    Challenge him. Set out some food items on the ground, then walk him by on a leash. When he goes toward the food, give the "leave it" command, reinforcing with a gentle tug of the leash if necessary.

    Step 4

    Take off the leash. Once he reliably leaves food on command, set some food out and let him find it on his own. If he expresses interest, be ready to give the "leave it" command and get him before he eats the food. Continue to practice until he ignores food that is not in his dish or offered by hand.

    An Item You Will Need

    • Treats

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Amy Hunter has been a writer since 1998. She writes about health and lifestyle issues and enjoys writing about hiking, camping, trail running and other outdoor activities. Her work has appeared in "Sacramento Parent," ASPCA's "Animal Watch" and other print and online publications. She is the author of "The History of Mexico" and "Tony Gonzalez: Superstar of Pro Football," aimed at young-adult readers.

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