If your German Shepherd has been eating rocks, stones or pebbles you might be wondering why and what you can do about it.
This post will show you why your German Shepherd does it and what you can do about it.
So, why does my German Shepherd eat rocks? Possible reasons are that it is not getting the right nutrients in its diet, boredom, illness, liking the taste, smelling food or stress.
There are a number of things that you can consider when trying to figure out why your German Shepherd has been doing it. Depending on the cause, there are also a number of things that you can do to reduce how much your German Shepherd eats rocks or other gravel.
Why your German Shepherd eats rocks, stones or pebbles
There are a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might eat gravel and they will likely come with a number of clues.
Below, I will mention a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be doing it and the signs to look for.
It’s not getting the right nutrients in its diet
The cause could be that your German Shepherd is looking to get minerals and vitamins that it isn’t getting in its diet.
If you’re unsure that your German Shepherd is getting the nutrients that it needs then you can read on nutritional guidelines at Petswebmd here. You can also read about what you should and should not feed a dog here.
The good news is that this is not usually the case but you should still take a moment to make sure that you’re feeding it the right things.
German Shepherds are a breed that was bred to be extremely active where they would work with their owners doing intensive tasks for hours on a daily basis.
This means that they need a lot of exercise to be properly stimulated. If they do not get a lot of exercise then they will look to make their own entertainment which could include trying rocks or gravel.
If your German Shepherd isn’t currently getting a lot of exercise then one of the first things for you to do would be to make sure that it does daily. Generally, it is recommended that a German Shepherd get at least an hour of exercise daily.
An inherited trait
It’s also thought that dogs would eat rocks, grass or gravel before they were domesticated by humans. They would do it since they wouldn’t have been able to get food as easily so they would try to get some more nutrients from the rocks. It could be that this is a trait that dogs still have today which is why they occasionally choose to eat gravel. This could be why wild dogs are often seen eating small rocks.
One proposed reason why German Shepherds eat small rocks is that they do it to ease an upset stomach. One way this happens is where the small rocks can cause it to be sick causing its stomach to feel better.
If you think that sickness could be the reason, the rock eating will likely have come on suddenly and it should stop after a few days. If you’re concerned that illness could be the cause then take it to a vet to make sure that nothing is seriously wrong.
It likes the taste
It could simply be because it likes the taste of the small rocks or gravel. To reduce this from happening you can make sure that your German Shepherd is getting a lot of exercise and you can give it things to divert its attention away from the rocks such as toys to chew on.
It smells food
Another cause that your German Shepherd might be eating small rocks could that it smells food there. This could be the case when the gravel is where there has been food such as below a barbeque or where some leftovers might have been thrown.
Another cause could be that it’s a coping mechanism to put up with stress. If your German Shepherd recently had something happen that could be causing it to be stressed such as a change of environment, a change of owner or if one of your other dogs died then this could be the reason.
Related post: Why is my German Shepherd afraid?
Things to consider
Before trying to get your German Shepherd to stop eating rocks it would help to have a better understanding of why it is doing it. Below, I will mention a couple of things that you can consider.
When it started eating rocks
It would help to consider when it first started eating rocks.
If it didn’t eat rocks in the past and it started doing it suddenly then it would make it more likely that it is ill, stressed or something is wrong with its diet. It would help to consider what happened at around the same time that it started eating rocks.
When it eats rocks, stones or pebbles
It would also help to consider the timing of when it does it. If it only seems to do it when it hasn’t gotten exercise then it might be doing it out of boredom. Whereas, if it does it when it has not eaten for a while then it could be the case that it is hungry.
How to get your German Shepherd to stop eating rocks
There are a number of things that you can do to reduce how much your German Shepherd eats rocks that I will mention below.
You can look at the book Training Your German Shepherd on Amazon to get more tips about how you can train your GSD.
Make sure its diet is right
Giving your German Shepherd a good diet could help to reduce its rock eating. It’s thought that dogs will eat dirt sometimes when they aren’t getting enough nutrients so getting a good diet is something that should help to prevent rock eating. You can read on nutritional guidelines at petswebmd here.
If you are unsure of what food to get for your German Shepherd, consider getting dog food designed specifically for German Shepherds. You can get a GSD specific dog food on Amazon here and one for GSD puppies on Chewy here.
Give it exercise
Since boredom could be what is causing it to eat rocks it would help to make sure that it is getting enough exercise provided that it is definitely not ill. Generally, it is recommended to give a German Shepherd an hour of exercise daily. You can do so by teaching it to play fetch, letting it swim, walking it for an hour or having a dog walker do it for you.
Give it other things to chew on
Another option you have is to distract your German Shepherd from eating gravel. You can do this by giving it other things that will keep it occupied such as by giving it lots of toys to play with and by giving it lots of toys that it can chew on instead. This is especially helpful when it’s in the teething phase where it will naturally want to chew a lot of things.
Train it to come to you
You can also train your German Shepherd to come to you when you call it. That way when you see your German Shepherd eating rocks or when it is about to eat them you can call it to come to you which will help you to reduce the number of rocks that will be able to eat.
To do this do as follows:
- Get some treats that it likes and a long lead if you have one
- Tell it to sit then reward it with a treat. If you haven’t taught your German Shepherd to sit yet then you’ll want to do that first.
- Then you say “Stay” then reward it if it pays attention to you for one second.
- You then repeat the process each time getting it to keep its attention a little longer.
- Then you tell it to stay then walk a few steps back then if it stays you walk back and reward it.
- Continue to do that each time walking back a bit further and, when it gets good, wait for a few seconds before walking back to it.
- Now you’ll say stay go back a few steps and then say “come” and reward it for coming to you
- Repeat doing that until you’re able to go far away
- Make sure to do this frequently so that your German Shepherd stays responsive to your command
You can watch the video below to see how it’s done
Take it to a vet
Since illness, stress or compulsive behavior could be the cause of it eating rocks it would help to get expert advice tailored to your particular German Shepherd. This would be especially important if it has been acting unusually in other ways as well.
Reduce its access to rocks
It would also help to reduce its access to rocks whenever possible. You can do this by preventing it from being able to access certain areas of the yard or by monitoring it when it is in the yard.