My puppy eats everything outside — what can I do?

Puppy lying on the grass eating a flower
(Image credit: Getty Images)

‘My puppy eats everything outside’ is a common phrase pet owners will share when talking about their pooches. And when you think about it, it comes as no surprise. Just like how babies explore the world with their senses, puppies explore the world using their tongues. 

This isn’t a problem when your pooch is inspecting its newfound habitat at home. Once inside their own four walls, you can safeguard what your four-legged friend is and isn’t tasting. For example, dotting some of the best puppy toys around your home can help keep their eating and licking habits at bay. But when they’re sniffing and exploring the outside world, the wrong thing can end up inside their curious little cavities. 

Firstly, it’s important to remember that sniffling, licking, and eating strange objects is a perfectly natural habit for most puppies. And more often than not, it won’t cause any harm. But you should always keep an eye on what your puppy is eating. Digesting hard objects can cause problems with your puppy’s teeth and you could even be in for a trip to the vet if something strange is swallowed. 

However, there is a range of things you can try to stop this from happening. From picking the best puppy treats to use with training exercises to the best teething toys for puppies. Keep scrolling to find out why your puppy is eating everything outside and how to switch up those habits. 

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. 

How do I stop my puppy eating rocks and sticks?

Pug outside eating grass

(Image credit: Getty Images)

You’ll almost certainly never stop your dog from eating everything outside - food stuffs are likely to be fair game for their whole life, and mostly that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. 

However, other objects you’re likely to find while out and about can cause more serious problems. Sticks and rocks can break their teeth and cause intestinal blockages - both of which can be painful for them and land you with an expensive vet's bill.

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. 

While outside, you’ll likely find that you’ll need a higher-value treat to tempt them away from something particularly alluring on the street. In which case, take something better than an average treat out with you to have to hand should you need it. Some good examples of this are small cubes of cheese or chunks of hot dog - something other than their every day ordinary kibble or bag treats.

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. 

It’s very important not to panic if you notice that your dog has eaten a stone or two. In most cases, small pebbles and rocks will simply pass through your dog’s digestive system. Pay careful attention to their poop, and watch out for any sickness after they’ve eaten rocks and of course, if you’re at all worried, speak to your vet.

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. 

Does your puppy chew? Most puppies do. But if you’re wondering how to stop a puppy chewing, head this way. 

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.