Do you go on walks with your puppy only to spend a great deal of time jerking his head back from the ground? Does your puppy find cigarette butts, used chewing gum, and dog vomit equally enticing? If so, it’s time to stop your puppy’s grazing. Puppies at this age are enjoying the full development of their senses. Their strongest sense is smell and, even though it’s related to taste, it’s even stronger than that. So, he’s attracted to stinky items and, when he finds one, he hopes the next will be just as good even if it’s not as smelly.
Noticing the signs that your puppy is ready to dive can help prevent the problem. Usually, your puppy will go from a relaxed “Heel!” to a sudden plunge which can make it difficult. Noticing what is on the ground can also be helpful but it’s impossible to watch the ground constantly.
1. Bring Along a Toy – A squeaky dog toy works very well to distract your puppy.
2. Avoid Areas with Food – This includes blocks with restaurants on them or behind them, areas behind an office building, some parks, and schools.
3. Avoid Overhanging Fronts – Often, people will smoke under an overhang on a building leaving their cigarette butts behind.
4. Avoid Trash Bins – Often, apartment houses will have a large trash bin out back and sometimes the trash doesn’t make it to the bin.
5. Bring Treats – Bring your puppy’s favorite treats on walks to tempt him away from trash.
6. Leave It – Work on the command “Leave It,” which teaches your puppy not to pick up an object.
There are some subtle signs that your puppy is getting ready to go for that piece of gum on the ground. He’ll turn his head sharply to look at the “prey.” Then, he’ll rear up slightly and turn in the direction of the goodie. You can feel this as well as see it. At that point, a firm but gentle jerk on the collar will redirect his attention as will a low pitched “Heel!” or “Leave It!”
If your puppy does get into something, it’s imperative to get it out of his mouth if you can. Teach your puppy the “Drop It!” command and be ready to stick your hand in his mouth if he doesn’t drop it immediately. Practice getting your puppy used to having your hand in his mouth at home to avoid accidental biting. If your puppy looks up at you angelically and swallows the object, try not to worry. Do look for any signs of illness later such as diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or lethargy and take him to the vet if these show up. It’s tough to understand why a dog finds vomit tasty but then again they probably are stymied at our penchant for caviar.