If your German Shepherd has a habit of eating grass then it’s probably quite concerning. You’ll probably also want to know why and what to do about it. This post will show you a number of reasons why your German Shepherd might be doing it and will show you some things that you can do as well.
So, why does your German Shepherd eat grass? Eating grass is common amongst all dog breeds and isn’t something to be concerned with by itself. Possible causes include boredom, forcing itself to be sick so that it can relieve an upset stomach, to improve digestion, being an inherited trait and simply liking how it tastes.
And how can you stop it? The only way to completely get it to stop would be to stop it from having access to grass but this isn’t advised. Instead, you can reduce its interest in eating grass by feeding it more fiber (most dog foods have enough already), giving it lots of exercise, giving it other things to chew on and training it to come to you when you call it.
Why dogs might eat grass is something that gets debated but there are a number of proposed reasons why your German Shepherd might be doing it.
Why German Shepherds might eat grass
There are a number of possible reasons why your German Shepherd might eat grass and I’ll mention a number of the proposed reasons below.
German Shepherds were bred to work with their owners on a daily basis doing intensive tasks. This means that they need a lot of exercise to be properly stimulated.
If your German Shepherd isn’t getting enough exercise then it could be getting bored. If that is the case then it might start to look for ways to stimulate itself and one of those ways could involve eating grass.
If you think that your German Shepherd might not be getting enough exercise then you should make sure that it does. You can look in the section below to see some ways that you can do so.
Some think that the reason German Shepherds (and other dogs) eat grass could be to improve digestion due to the high fiber content in grass or to fulfill some other nutritional deficiency.
It likes how it tastes
It could just be that your German Shepherd likes the taste of grass. It could be that it wants to chew on something and grass is readily available to it and it’s not poisonous so it chooses to chew on that. This will be particularly pronounced if it’s in the teething phase.
To make itself throw up
It’s not uncommon for German Shepherds (and other dogs) to throw up after eating grass. This leads some people to think that they eat grass due to having a stomach upset that they want to alleviate by throwing up. However, some people disagree with this saying that dogs aren’t smart enough to do that and that most dogs don’t actually throw up when they eat grass.
It’s an inherited trait
One likely cause is that grass was something that was readily available to dogs before they were domesticated by humans so they would get some of their nutrition by eating grass and this is an inherited trait that present-day dogs have.
How To Reduce How Much Your German Shepherd Eats Grass
There are a number of things that you can do to reduce how much your German Shepherd eats grass. Below I will mention a number of them.
By giving your German Shepherd lots of exercise you will be able to wear it out and reduce its curiosity in the taste of grass. You’ll also be able to keep your German Shepherd healthy and to reduce other unwanted behaviors such as destruction or attention seeking.
There are a number of ways to exercise your German Shepherd.
- Walk it
Walking your German Shepherd is probably the most obvious way to give it exercise. However, you might find that it’s not enough for your German Shepherd so you might need to find ways to make it more challenging. You can do so by walking further, walking faster, walking in a hilly area, or you could make it wear a dog weight vest with no more than 10% of its body weight.
You could also walk it with other dogs since it will wear itself out more by playing with the other dogs.
- Play fetch with it
Teaching your German Shepherd to play fetch is a good way to give it a lot of exercise. It will wear it out quickly since it will have your German Shepherd do a lot of sprinting without much rest in between. I have written about how to teach it to your German Shepherd in the past here.
- Teach it to swim
Teaching your German Shepherd to swim would be another good way to give it a lot of exercise. When they swim they need to move their legs around a lot which can wear them out quickly. It also helps to keep them cool in the summer.
- Have a dog walker do it for you
When you haven’t got the time to do it yourself you could get a dog walker to do it for you. There are apps that you can download now that let you book a local dog walker directly through the app.
Diet in high fiber
Since some people think that dogs eat grass to get more fiber you could try giving it foods that are higher in fiber. Most dog foods will have a decent amount of fiber but you can see what other fiber foods you can feed your German Shepherd 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 other things to chew on
Another option you have is to divert its attention away from chewing on grass. You can do this by giving it lots of toys that it can chew on. This will be especially helpful if your German Shepherd is in the teething phase where it naturally will want to chew on things.
Train it to come to you
In order to reduce how much grass your German Shepherd is able to eat you will need it to stop eating grass when you tell it to. This means that if you haven’t trained it to come to you when you tell it to then you should.
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
Watch the video below to see how it is done.
Visit the vet
If your German Shepherd is being sick regularly when it’s eating grass then you should consider taking it to the vet to make sure nothing is wrong. This behavior isn’t that uncommon so it’s not something to be overly concerned about if it is an otherwise healthy dog but it is worthwhile to double check with a vet.
If you would like some more tips on how to train your German Shepherd take a look at the German Shepherd training book on Amazon.
Things to consider
If you’re worried about why your German Shepherd is eating grass or if you want to make it stop then there are some things that you should keep in mind.
Risks of eating grass
Eating grass generally isn’t considered harmful but if the grass has pesticides then it could be. Be sure that your German Shepherd doesn’t have access to any grass that has been sprayed with pesticides or poisonous plants.
It’s not uncommon for German Shepherds to be sick after eating grass. As long as it goes back to normal then it should be ok. But, if you’re concerned you should take it to a vet.
It’s not unusual
Eating grass is something that has been observed by owners of all dog breeds and is seen in non-domesticated dogs. So, just because your German Shepherd eats grass sometimes doesn’t mean that something is terribly wrong with it.
Physical punishment doesn’t work
Some owners resort to hitting their dog when it eats grass. Don’t physically punish your German Shepherd for eating grass it doesn’t work. It will liekly think that you’re punishing it for the last thing that it did which was coming to you and it can cause behavioral problems. You can try saying no and teaching it to come to you when you call it instead.
Why does my German Shepherd eat dirt? There are a number of reasons why this could possibly be the case. Possible reasons include looking for nutrients that it isn’t getting in its diet, health conditions, it likes the taste, stress or boredom, and trying to soothe an upset stomach. If it’s something that is concerning you then take it to a vet.
Why does my German Shepherd eat stones? The possible reasons for this are the same as above. If it’s something that is frequently occurring or it’s concerning you take it to a vet.
Most Recommended For German Shepherds
Best German Shepherd Training Program
Our favorite: The Dunbar Academy Training Program. If you want a happy and obedient dog, this is one of the best online dog training programs available right now.
Best German Shepherd Guide
Our favorite: The German Shepherd Handbook (on Amazon) - Shows you all you need to know to keep your GSD happy, healthy and well-behaved.