My puppy eats everything outside — how do I stop them?

Pug eating daffodils outside
(Image credit: Aigars Reinholds/Getty Images)

If you’ve got a new fur baby on your hands, then you’re probably questioning, ‘My puppy eats everything outside - how can I stop them?’ Whilst you certainly don’t want them to consume anything dangerous, we’re here to tell you that it’s completely normal behavior and you’re not alone. 

You might want to invest in one of these long lasting dog chews if your furry friend loves to chew. This will be especially useful during the teething process, as well as when they’re bored or just want to play. These homemade puppy teething toys might also come in handy if you think your dog is suffering from sore gums. 

“Puppies, like human children, tend to explore with their mouths,” explains Dr. Joanna Woodnutt. “This is even more the case with dogs than humans as they don’t have hands – picking things up in their mouths is the only way a dog can tell if something is hard or soft, whether it would be a good item to chew, and whether something tastes good.” 

If you’re bringing home a puppy for the first time, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns about their behavior. But you don’t need to worry about your dog exploring with their mouth - this is totally normal and something that all pups are curious about. However, you might want to learn how to stop a puppy biting (those tiny teeth are sharper than they look!).

Although this behavior is to be expected from your little one, there are some things you don’t want them to eat, like rocks and sticks. So how do you minimize this risk? We asked Dr. Joanna Woodnutt for her advice: 

Dr Joanna Woodnutt BVM BVS BVMedSci MRCVS
Dr. Joanna Woodnutt

After graduating as a veterinarian from the University of Nottingham, Dr Joanna Woodnutt went on to practice companion animal medicine in the Midlands, UK. Dr Woodnutt is specifically interested in consulting and helping her clients understand their pets better, whether it’s around medical problems such as dermatology, behavior, and nutrition.

What age do puppies stop trying to eat everything?

Different puppies develop and mature at different rates. Depending on the breed, temperament, or even the behavior of other dogs in your puppy’s life, you might find that they reduce the amount of street eating quickly, or you might find that they never do.

Although every dog is different, you will usually find that most puppies stop picking up and eating everything in sight as they get older. And you’ll also find that most puppies can be trained fairly easily when to drop something which is particularly dangerous or problematic. It just requires patience, training and perseverance to get the results that you want. 

Nylabone Puppy Chew X Bone Chew Toy Blue, Small

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If you’ve got a teething pup that just wants to chew, this Nylabone toy will be their new favorite thing. Not only will it last a long time, but it’s also coated in a delicious flavor for them to enjoy. Our tester Gillian reported back that her pup loved this toy for teething.

How do I stop my puppy eating rocks and sticks?

Pug outside eating grass

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"Stopping your dog from eating things they shouldn’t outside can be really difficult," explains Dr. Woodnutt. "The first step is to keep a close eye on them so that you can intervene where necessary. The second is to train a reliable ‘leave’ command indoors. Don’t use it unless you really have to, or it will lose its power and your dog will get bored of listening to it." 

Mastering the “leave” or “drop” command is helpful for a number of reasons, but particularly if they have something potentially dangerous in their mouth. This command is one of the earliest you might want to teach your puppy for the benefits it brings.

You can practice the “leave” command at home, with consistency and persistence being the key to achieving success. Try giving your dog one of their toys, then commanding “leave”. If they drop the toy - reward them with a treat. Keep doing this repeatedly and most dogs will soon understand the “game”. Practice this every day to improve the speed and ease with which they will drop the toy. 

"Distraction with a treat or a game also works most of the time," says Dr. Woodnutt. You may also want to show them what they can chew, by taking good toys into the garden (don’t forget to bring them back inside though!) In severe cases, you may need to muzzle your dog when outside until you’ve trained them not to eat things they shouldn’t!"

Eating rocks can be a sign of dietary deficiency - such as calcium - so, it can be a wise idea to check that you’re feeding your canine pal the best puppy food to ensure they’re getting all the nutrients they need.

Will eating stones harm my puppy?

Most puppies won’t actually eat stones on purpose, but instead are likely just chewing them to discover what it is, or if it’s something particularly interesting to them. However, there’s always a chance - particularly with smaller stones - that they end up swallowing something that they shouldn’t and doing themselves some damage. 

"Chewing on stones can damage a dog’s teeth – a vet can tell if your dog is an habitual stone chewer when they look in your dog’s mouth because the teeth are so worn," explains Dr. Woodnutt. "Of course, swallowing stones is even worse – they can get lodged in the gastrointestinal tract and cause a blockage, usually called a foreign body. 

Some people think it’s ok for their dog to eat gravel because the pieces are small, but I’ve seen more than one dog needing an operation to remove gravel, and it’s a lot harder to remove than a single stone. When it comes to can dogs eat sticks, chewing sticks is slightly safer, but they can still cause blockages or damage the delicate soft tissues of the mouth and throat."

If you notice that your dog has a hard, tight stomach, don’t delay in getting them some medical attention as this can be a sign of a more serious problem - especially if they have eaten multiple stones. 

The best way to avoid dealing with your puppy eating rocks is to train them not to do it in the first place - using the tips above will usually see them grow out of it by adulthood. 

 Looking for the best puppy toys? We’ve got you covered. Struggling with your puppy eating rocks? They’ll definitely prefer one of the best puppy treats instead.  

KONG Puppy Chew Dog Toy

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There’s lots to love about this KONG puppy chew toy. Not only can your dog enjoy a good old munch on it, but it can also be stuffed with some tasty treats, like peanut butter. Our tester has been using this toy for years, which is proof of just how long it lasts. 

Amy Davies

Amy Davies is a freelance writer and photographer with over 15 years experience. She has a degree in journalism from Cardiff University and has written about a huge variety of topics over the years. These days she mostly specialises in technology and pets, writing across a number of different titles including TechRadar, Stuff, Expert Reviews, T3, Digital Camera World, and of course PetsRadar. She lives in Cardiff with her dog, Lola, a rescue miniature dachshund.

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