Please help me with Lucy, she likes to eat everything in the park

Hi everyone!

Happy to be a member of this community so I can share and help others with their corgis. 

I have a problem. Lucy, my 9 month-old corgi is eating everything in the park and I had already taken her to vet twice..very expensive by the way, but at the end you do anything for them because you love them:)

The problem started since she was three months old but we decided it was just a puppy behavior that could be trained with positive reinforcement and yummy treats. Well, she kept  on eating everything in the park (specially soil and barks). It is a strange behavior because she only does it as soon as she see other dogs in the park. When we are in the park alone she listens to me and any attempt to eat anything, she is very good at dropping it. 

I have already change her food twice (always making sure to consult this with the vet), we take her 4 times out to the park, train her inside the house, give her lots of attention and love. She is very well behaved inside the house and she is incapable of eating anything without our consent.

Anyway, I am very concerned and I am scared that one of these days she will eat something that could put her life in danger. It would be very helpful if you can advise me or tell me if this is a common behavior or if there is something I can do. 

Thanks :)

Carolina

 

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You are right to be concerned!  When I had puppies I always trained them to walk with their head up ( I put the collar up high at the top of the neck, just under the ears and only gave them enough leash to allow them to comfortably walk besides me with the head up, but not enough to allow for the nose to reach the ground.  If the nose went toward the floor, I gave a slight tug and repeated the "heads up" command.  Walk slowly as you teach this.)  I did this for two reasons.  First, it avoids the problem of scavanging as they go, second I find that a dog with its nose to the ground is a pain in the neck to walk with.  Once in awhile I would stop, let out the leash, say "OK, go sniff" and let them sniff around and do their business as needed but, when I resumed walking, no more sniffing.  That worked well for me.

If, on the other hand, you are talking about an off leash behavior, you can use a muzzle with a wire basket, or else keep her on leash or a Flexi Lead, so you can have better control of the situation.  This is not something she will outgrow without time, effort and vigilance on your part.

Hi Anna, thanks for your reply;) Both ideas that you gave me are very good and I will for sure try them. Just a couple of doubts: for the first one the leash needs to be tigh enough so Lucy's head doesn't touch the ground? For the heads up, when you are teaching it, do you give the command when she heels and look at you or just looks straight? Thanks a lot!

You give her enough slack in the leash that she can walk comfortably by your side, but not enough that her nose can reach the ground.  That's why it's important that the collar is really high on the neck, especially with a short legged dog.  If you allow the dog to go in front (not right by your side) the collar will automatically slip down the neck and the length of neck will allow the nose and mouth to reach the ground.

I only give the "heads up!" command if the dog tries to walk with it's nose to the ground, and I add a slight upward tug. No hard jerk as that area has glands  and the trachea and you don't need to put any force, it's just a reminder.   You have to learn not to cause that collar to move down the neck, so walking slowly at first helps you both get the knack of it, you can even start this indoors, or in your yard.  

It's hard to break habits for dogs as well as for people.  I would also work on "don't eat suff!" and "drop it!".  Eventually, when you can trust her because enough time has gone by that she  needs no corrections ( weeks, not days) you can then start giving her more freedom and length of leash.

Thanks for the quick response! And now I understood how to use the command. As well, as Beth and you suggested when Lucy is doing this in front of the other dogs, it usually happens when she is off leash, I will put the basket muzzle. Thanks again!  

Ah, I understand what Anna is saying but it is very very hard with a  short-legged Corgi to keep the leash tight enough so the head can't reach the ground without putting constant pressure on the neck.

Does she JUST eat tree bark and dropped food?  What do you mean by "everything?"  If she is eating rocks and stuff, then you may need a basket muzzle.   If she is only eating tree bark, mine do that too and honestly as long as they don't eat too much, it's usually not a problem.   We also walk in a park and yes, they've eaten some things I'd rather they didn't.  But the alternative is keeping them on "heel" with eyes on me the whole walk, and honestly you are only meant to do that for very short periods of time.

Hi Beth,

She eats tree barks, soil, grass but she does it in a obsessive way, so that's why she gets sick. I guess the basket muzzle is something that could work on her. And yes, I've notice she can't keep up for a long time the heel command (for the most 30 seconds). Anyway thanks a lot for your help and advises :) 

Possibly try a Halti head collar (looks like this: http://amzn.to/1qncx23)? I've used this on a German shepherd, a friend used one on a Doberman, and my son uses the similar Gentle Leader on a Golden retriever. Don't know what size would fit a corgi. But because it goes over the head and nose, it might be easier to deflect the dog from hoovering the ground.

It takes a while to get the dog accustomed to these lash-ups. However, many people say that once the dog is used to it, this type of head harness is an effective, easy, and humane way to train a dog to walk with you and stay on task. It just might help with this problem, too.

Head halters are a good training tool, but are only meant to be used with the dog close to you, not with a long leash, nor with a retractable leash, because you can cause severe neck injuries if the dog runs out and suddenly gets to the end of the leash causing the head to abruptly be jerked back.  You can definitely try using one, but I wanted to add the word of caution.

Yes. Actually, I'm not sure I'd use a retractable leash on a corgi at all. Their backs and necks seem extra-vulnerable to injury. I think the instructions say not to use one of those things with a head halter...but if not, apply common sense.

Hi Vicky and Anna,

Thanks to your response and your recommendations. I actually try today the basket muzzle (the brand is Baskerville)  but Lucy find her way to keep on eating and even the behavior became more compulsive. I try to gave her treats when she was wearing it and she ate them but still insist on eating things from the ground. Anyway, the trick that Anna told me, "Heads up" seems to work out just fine...we have only tested today during her afternoon walk and we need to practice a couple of times so she can get it.

And again thanks on the recommendations with the head halters, I wasn't aware that there needs to be extra careful with their necks. 

Thanks :)

I would still teach the command "leave it". It takes awhile but is worth the effort.

Hi Jane,

Thanks for your reply :). Actually, Lucy knows the command and she does it inside the house like a professional. However, outside it's another story and likes to ignore every time I use it :(

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