Dogs eat all sorts of things they shouldn’t… Ever wondered what the top ones are?
As dog parents, we love our furry friends unconditionally. However, we can’t deny that sometimes they can cause a bit of chaos in our homes. From chewing on our favorite shoes to digging up the garden, dogs can be quite skilled at destruction. But why do they do this, and how can we address these behaviors?
Rebarkable, a leading provider of dog training courses and resources, recently conducted a survey of over 1,500 dog owners to identify the top items dogs are most likely to destroy in households. The results provide valuable insights into dog behavior and highlight the importance of effective training to prevent damage and promote harmonious living between pets and their families.
The Top 15 Items Dogs Love to Eat That They Shouldn’t.
Sometimes our dogs decide that they’re going to eat something… and it’s not a thing they should eat. Ever wondered what the top ranking things are? Well, you’re about to find out…
1. Poop (13.5%)
Coprophagia… yum yum yum.
From Goose to Guinea Pig! Poop was our top answer. I see it so much, but it’s one of the worst things because it’s a tough habit to break – totally doable though.
Trainer tip: Dogs eat poop mainly to “clean up” their area, and consequently the most effective way of stopping this? Is to clean up their area before they try to. Sure, wild animal stuff is a little harder (though you can get special poop guards for muzzles!)
2. Clothes/Shoes (10.5%)
Socks, underwear and shoes came top of this list (unsurprisingly!). Quite as to what it is about fabric, is hard to say, but it happens… whether it smells like humans, or they get a little too involved in their games, clothes and shoes are up there with what our dogs really prefer to eat.
Trainer tip: tidy up haha, sorry this one is super simple, but keep pup away from these things and if you see them grab them? Don’t panic, grab a toy instead and make the toy way more fun.
3. Garden Items (12.1%)
Mulch, sticks, grass. The garden is full of fun, tasty thing to explore. Usually this is a textures thing? But sometimes grass can be because of an unsettled tummy, so try to watch out for other signs of them not feeling well.
Trainer tip: redirect, redirect, redirect. There’s nothing better than a more fun thing to engage your puppy with.
4. Unattended food (7.7%)
From Sandwiches, raw meat to the finest steaks (with a particular favour on dairy products), if they’re not being watched, they’re apparently free reign… Remember, human food can be problematic for dogs (particularly grapes, onions and artificial sweetener), so it’s always good to keep that very, very out of reach, and if you get tempted? Don’t take the chance.
Trainer tip: Don’t tempt your dog in this way, doing that will (pretty much unfailingly) not end how you want it.
5. Tech Items (6.5%)
Charger cables are the single most popular, and whilst these likely won’t kill your dog, they’re really expensive! So, when it comes to our tech and electrics, let’s avoid the items that cost us large amounts of money.
Trainer Tip: Keep these out of the way.
6. House Fixtures (5.7%)
Drywall, baseboards (skirting boards) and other house fixtures are right up there! This commonly happens when we start giving our dog too much freedom too quickly and they’ve not quite learned what is meant to be eaten, and what’s not.
Trainer Tip: Match textures, if your pup is really enjoying wood textures? Try a chew root, if they’re more into dry wall? That one may be a vet visit because it can be indicative of a calcium deficiency (particularly in giant breeds!)
7. Dog Toys (5.4%)
Dog toys, whilst legal chews, are not really meant to be ingested… as part of the predatory motor pattern though, some of our dogs are very driven to Dissect & consume! Which is a problem, this one means we just need to pick appropriate toys, and monitor our dogs sufficiently
Trainer tip: Focus on toys that aren’t going to get stuck, or won’t be small enough to be swallowed.
8. Vomit (4.3%)
We never got a single vote saying this was anything but their own… so that’s something I guess, but eating their own puke is always kind of gross, but it usually happens after regurgitation.
Trainer tip: a regurgitated puke is usually fine to eat as regurgitation is usually done because they swallowed something too big, or ate it too fast.
9. Paper Towels & Toilet Roll (4.3%)
I’d be willing to bet that this would mainly be ones used to wipe something tasty and vaguely tastes like raw meat, or something.
Trainer tip: This can be indicative of a dodgy tummy, as fibrous material can help a dog who’s feeling a bit icky to vomit.
10. Pee Pads
This one is mainly born of boredom. It’s there, it shreds in a fairly satisfactory way, and hey, at the end of the day?
Trainer tip: I’m not a huge fan of pee pads! They’re kind of a marketing thing for 99% of pet parents and they’re just not needed. If you do want to go this way, go for a pee pad alternative which are less likely to be shredded, and are better for your toilet training process… just saying!
11. Furniture (3.6%)
Chewing on a chair leg, or on a sofa, or a table makes sense. A lot of the time this one
Trainer tip: The best thing you can to do here is replace the thing they want to chew! So if they’re really into your chair legs? Go for a chew root! Or if it’s your sofa cushions make sure you have a stuffed toy around.
12. Hair (3.5%)
This one’s a weird one. I’m not sure why our dogs would be eating hair, hair does tend to soothe a doggy tummy (much like grass) and can help enduce vomiting, but it is a little odd, huh?
Trainer tip: If you see your puppy acting a little unwell, it might be best to monitor or call a vet.
13. Cat Food (3.5%)
Cat food is not the best thing for dogs as cat need a different amount of taurine, which can be problematic for dogs in general, so if you can, to all my pet owners who do have more than two species under their roof? Seperate for feeding!
Trainer tip: Seperate where foods go, and make sure your dog can’t access your cat food.
14. Kids Toys (2.9%)
It happens so easily, because what’s hand-sized and grabbable for kids is usually edible for a dog. And if the kiddo’s been eating ice cream, then playing with that toy car, then that toy car tastes delicious. Other than that? It’s usually just a small problem that needs remedying.
Trainer tip: Tidy up. Honestly, this one goes back to the basics of puppy proofing! It’s really not that tough, it just needs to be done consistently whilst you teach pup what is a chew and what’s not.
15. Bed Stuffing (2.4%)
This usually happens because our dog’s bed mysteriously explodes…. and then the predatory motor kicks in and Consume occurs.
Trainer tip: This one’s usually because your dogs gone to the point of shredding something and then it kind of happens. Not many dogs have the consume step of the predatory motor pattern any more, but if they do? It’s going to be a case of opting for things with no stuffing or giving them outlets!
Other Interesting Answers
These are some of the weird items in the survey, because the weird ones are just as fun.
- Sanitary products & birth control – Objects like sanitary products, birth control pills and condoms were all listed on the survey! Please do contact a vet if this happens.
- A Bar of Soap – I’m baffled as to how this happened if I’m totally honest. Maybe it smelled super delicious? Or puppy swore? haha!
- Ear Plugs – Anyone else getting the mental image of Dumbledore eating the bertie bots every flavour beans? I can’t imagine this tasted nice, but maybe it just looked like a treat?
- Hot Water Bottle – This, again, is a super confusing one for me. How does this even happen?
Did Any Of The Dogs Actually Eat Homework?
Interestingly, there wasn’t a single person who said homework – which I guess lays that old adage to rest! Sorry to all the students out there!
I’m not sure if this is just a sign of the times, but it’s an interesting one.
The Importance of Effective Training
Understanding why dogs engage in destructive behavior is the first step in addressing it. Often, dogs destroy items due to boredom, anxiety, or a lack of proper training and mental stimulation. By providing dogs with appropriate outlets for their energy and teaching them what is acceptable to chew or play with, we can minimize the risk of damage to our belongings.
Rebarkable offers a variety of training courses, including their popular 5-Day Loose Leash Walking Course, which focuses on positive reinforcement techniques to teach dogs to walk calmly and without pulling. The company also provides private training sessions and additional resources to help dog owners address specific behavioral issues and strengthen the bond between pets and their families.
Tips for Preventing Destructive Behavior
Here are some tips to help prevent destructive behavior in dogs:
- Muzzle Train: For poop, or unattended food scavenged outside? Muzzle training is one of the best things you can do. Here’s our best muzzle list!
- Provide mental and physical stimulation: Ensure your dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation through play, training, and puzzle toys.
- Offer appropriate chew toys: Provide your dog with a variety of safe and durable chew toys to redirect their chewing behavior.
- Use positive reinforcement: Reward your dog for displaying good behavior and redirect them to appropriate activities when they engage in destructive behavior.
- Create a safe environment: Dog-proof your home by removing or securing items that could be tempting or dangerous for your dog to chew on.
- Address separation anxiety: If your dog’s destructive behavior is related to anxiety or stress, consult with a professional trainer or veterinarian to develop a plan to address these issues.
- Know how to save a choking dog: It’s important for all dog parents to know what to do if your dog starts to choke and how to approach it.
By implementing these tips and providing your dog with proper training, you can create a harmonious and happy home for both you and your furry friend.
The results of Rebarkable’s survey highlight the importance of effective training in preventing dogs from destroying household items. By understanding the reasons behind these behaviors and providing our dogs with the guidance they need, we can create a safe and enjoyable living environment for all family members. So, invest in your dog’s training and enjoy the benefits of a well-behaved, happy, and content pet.
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!