Eating Stones

Published by Theo Stewart on

Over two years ago I visited Bess, a black labrador. At the time she had been cut open twice to remove stones she had swallowed, and was unlikely to survive a third operation. Her owners were understandably in a panic. Bess would eat stones, sticks – anything.

Fortunately all that is now a thing of the past. I was called back for fairly minor issues due to her reactivity to certain dogs on walks. It was evident a lot of our early work had been allowed to slide, but I’m sure they will soon be back on track. Once a dog is on my list, I continue offer support any time in the futurRottie in the pube.

When I brought Pickle my Cocker Spaniel puppy home  he was fascinated in the stones that cover much of the ground around my house. I couldn’t avoid them. I remembered Badger and decided to use psychology right from the start. As soon as he picked up a stone, I walked away from him. He would drop it to follow me. If he lay down and chewed the stone, I left him to it, reasoning that I had never heard of a wild dog or wolf dying from eating stones. They would surely have more sense. Moreover, if Pickle thought that I wanted his stone, then he might well swallow it. Finders Keepers! I contemplated exchanging stones for a treats, but exchanging something for a treat means that the object should be kept out of reach in the future – obviously impossible with stones. (N.B. my technique with Pickle is not appropriate for dogs that already swallow things and where counter-conditioning work needs to be done).

Occasionally even now at 9 months old Pickle will pick up and chew a stone, but I don’t worry. He has never swallowed one, so my gamble paid off.

Once a dog has the habit of swallowing stones, it is too late to use the strategies I used with Pickle. Other ways will need to be found – which will possibly save the dog’s life.

I took this picture of Kobi today, a wonderful Rottie age 8 months who lives at my local pub. He reminds me of my dear departed  Rottweiler, Merlin. Just like Merlin, he is confident, reliable and friendly.

Three months later, I have just received this email: “Just thought I would update you on our Bess!  What a change!  Much calmer on her walks. Small dogs seems less of a threat now!) and my son and daughter can walk her without problems.  My daughter in particular finds the fact that she now walks docile by your side quite extraordinary!  So thank you very much for your help again!  The harness that we purchased from you has been a fantastic investment.  Well, she has her annual holiday with us at the cottage in a couple of weeks and we don’t feel quite as anxious as we have done!
We can also leave the garden door open and Bess just sits (favourite spot of course) and watches the butterflies!  Joy!  No stone-anxiety for us!  It is just a delight to do the gardening with her by my side.  I love how she ‘checks for bombs’ when I dig holes and gives me the all-clear; much better than when I had to get a stone from her mouth”.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog. .
 
here -->