Why Does My Dog Eat Sticks, Stones, Clothing, Toys, Dirt and Rubbish…?


Just like toddlers, puppies investigate by putting things in their mouths. It’s a common trait in puppies who explore the world around them by using their ears, eyes, noses and mouths. However, while this is usual behaviour, it is important to keep risky objects away from puppies, especially if they are left alone. Read on to find out why dogs eat rubbish!

When I got my very  first dog, Herbert, I was astounded to discover as he did his ablutions one morning – the strange case of the missing oven glove, (shaped like an alligator) – was a mystery no more.

While we were out, he had obviously stolen the oven glove; shredded it and completely devoured it. Luckily, it all worked it’s way through his system.

Common materials puppies like to chew.

Dogs seem to eat fabrics for many reasons, but in this case I suspect Herbert thought the items were edible, as they must have smelled strongly of all sorts of foods.

Lots of puppies and adult dogs like to chew on sticks. Generally speaking, they seem to enjoy biting chunks off and spitting them out. This might be something they do as a substitute for chewing on bones, or carcasses.

Chewing on stones and pebbles is another common habit in puppies and some older dogs. There is evidence to suggest that wild dogs and wolves lick and chew stones as a means of ingesting minerals. Some dogs are also attracted to concrete, or plastered walls, but nobody really knows why this might be.

Eating dirt, or soil, is also a common amongst adult dogs as well as young puppies. My collie often snuffles about in the dirt, nibbling a bit here and there. However, she only really does this when she is in the duck pen. Therefore, I think she is eating bird poop! This suggests dogs can detect something they think is edible in the soil. This could well be poop of some kind, or something else that smells and tastes good – (to your dog!).

In fact, amongst the more natural things your dog may consume is, poop – Yuk! This may be cat, sheep, or cattle droppings. However disgusting a habit this seems to us, it is, at least, one of the less dangerous ones.

How do I stop my dog from eating non-food items?

The majority of dogs have quite a discerning palette when it comes to eating food – many will not eat lettuce, or oranges, for instance. Some dogs, however, can be relentless in their desire to eat all sorts of things that aren’t good for them. Labradors and Spaniels are notorious for eating inedible items, while generally being food obsessed.

To discourage your pooch from eating things he shouldn’t, put everything out of reach that your dog seems attracted to. This might include items such as shoes, children’s toys, tea towels, plastic bags, remote controls and small articles of clothing such as socks, or pants. Remember – certain foods such as grapes, or chocolate, are bad for dogs too. Toxic foods should always be kept well out of their reach. See our other Holidays4Dogs articles about foods that are dogs.

If you find your dog with something he shouldn’t have, avoid darting in to grab the item. This may encourage your dog to quickly swallow it and this is a habit that you want to avoid, particularly with puppies. Instead, ‘trade’ the item for something he can have, such as a tasty treat. This way you can remove any hazardous objects with ease.

If you suspect your dog has consumed something hazardous, it is imperative to seek veterinary attention urgently.

When Vets4Pets carried out a survey amongst their practices on the most unusual items retrieved from a dog’s stomach, the results were quite astounding. One of the most intriguing objects was an item of underwear that did not belong to the partner of the dog owner. As well as a costly vet bill, the dog owner had some serious explaining to do!

Other items brought up in the survey were a Barbie doll head, tinsel, a whole jacket potato and a needle and thread. Also, the middle of a corn on the cob, carpet thread, (running all the way through the dog from his mouth to his bottom!) and believe it or not, a whole rubber chicken.


Puppies usually grow out of chewing inedible items, especially if you are consistent with making sure you use distraction and ‘trading’ techniques.