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Discussion Starter #1
Louie is a one year old mini poodle Bichon mix. From day1 he’s been obsessed with eating sticks. He will chew off and eat the bark then proceed to bite off pieces of wood. I take them away from him of course when I catch him at it, but I’m still finding his poop with substantial pieces of wood in it! Vet says as long as he’s eating and seems well I should just keep doing what I’m doing. But it worries me. I’ve been wondering if perhaps he’s deficient in some vitamin or mineral or ? and he maybe needs a supplement. I hate to resort to a muzzle but his health & safety is much more important. I clear my yard of sticks every day but he still manages to find some! Anyone else have this issue and any suggestions? Thank you!
 

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You can discuss your dog's diet with your vet. I doubt he is doing this because of deficiencies but your vet is the best person to address this question.

Sounds more like a rewarding hobby. He started as a puppy and self rewarded with this behavior and continues to enjoy himself. I'd be concerned he might damage his digestive tract and/or need surgery.

You can't allow him to continue
. Have you taught "leave it" and "trade it"? You can carry treats in your pocket to reward him for leaving behind the branches or trading. Keep your eyes peeled on him when outside and act immediately.

Does he have great chews in the house? Bully sticks, pig ears etc? Having some satisfying chews indoors may help stop him from finding them outdoors.

Last resort, yes muzzle him but you have to train accepting a muzzle before you plunk one on him. Take a week or so to slowly condition him to wearing one.
 
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Omgosh he has so many chew options. Kong, Yak butter sticks, bully sticks and other very firm safe rubber chew toys. He’s an aggressive chewer. I do take the sticks away right away & offer one of his chew toy alternatives. I agree with you on the danger. It could perforate or obstruct his GI tract. I hate to resort to a muzzle. But your advice on introducing it slowly is helpful. I was hoping he’d grow out of it. I’ve heard of pica in dogs and I’ve considered a behaviorist to evaluate him. I really appreciate the comments. I was also hoping to hear from other owners with a similar behavior. Anyone?
 

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Maybe he has TOO MANY chew options at once! If they’re all out and available all the time, maybe they’re not as exciting. The different sticks on the other hand, are always new and exciting.


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Maybe you can spray them (the ones he's chewing on) with something like bitter yuck and get him to learn that sticks taste bad.
 

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2BoyzNow, I have a puppy who keeps picking up stuff As soon as i see him I intervene and either redirect him or if he picked something up I immediately remove it. He never gets to keep it, never has time to eat or bring it in the house. It's a full time job.

Magna Tom has a great idea - put bitter apple or Tabasco sauce on some sticks

Also I like to switch out toys and treats - keeps things new and fun. I see you have lots of great chew choices which is great.
 

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Peggy Sue, Standard Poodle Born May 2019
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I think it’s really hard to break some habits that develop in puppyhood. It’s possible someone once offered him a stick, maybe laughed as he chewed on it, and now it will always give him pleasure. This effect can be compounded by negative attention as a puppy grows up. You start taking away the treasured plaything, and that item just increases in value.

Peggy is like that with rocks. She doesn’t swallow them (knock on wood!!) but she loves to lick them and carry them around. They will always be an obsession.

I would maybe give the sticks less attention and just focus on being the most fun thing in the yard.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Maybe he has TOO MANY chew options at once! If they’re all out and available all the time, maybe they’re not as exciting. The different sticks on the other hand, are always new and exciting.


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Thanks that’s a good point. He does have about half of his available chew toys available at any given time. I’ll try cutting back even more along with the other suggestions mentioned here. Appreciate all the feedback.
 

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Topper, my 7-month old mini poo, also loves sticks - but not necessarily to chew on. He prefers to peel the bark off with his front teeth. He doesn't seem to eat the bark, but just to be careful I trade the stick for some cheese after he has had a moment to shred. I guess he has interpreted "no bark" in his own unique way.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Topper, my 7-month old mini poo, also loves sticks - but not necessarily to chew on. He prefers to peel the bark off with his front teeth. He doesn't seem to eat the bark, but just to be careful I trade the stick for some cheese after he has had a moment to shred. I guess he has interpreted "no bark" in his own unique way.
Hahaha so cute. Louie does the same thing with the bark. Like eating corn on the cob. Haha. Thanks for sharing that.
 
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