Let’s face it, we have all been walking or running around with our dog when suddenly they take a detour to the nearest patch of grass. Yet, instead of smelling it or peeing on it, they decide to chow down on it as a snack!
What is going on in our dog’s brain that possesses them to gobble down some grass whenever they get the chance? And worst of all, what happens when they vomit it up a few minutes later?
Let’s first talk about why your dog is exhibiting this behavior so we can understand the psychology:
Dogs eat grass because they are omnivores!
It is crucial to acknowledge the fact that undomesticated or stray dogs have consistently been observed as omnivores, meaning they snack on both meat and plants! Therefore, we have to assume their domesticated counterparts follow the same instincts when it comes to their diet. As a result, it is normal for your dog to exhibit behaviors of an opportunistic scavenger; this is a natural instinct that occurs within their brain.
Moreover, just like a tasty scrap from the trashcan, grass or other green plant material can be tasty to your dog. They are programmed to find nutrition wherever they go, so they just may like the flavor or texture. They also may be trying to fulfill a nutritional need that their normal food is not (usually fiber).
Dogs Get Bored
When it comes to stimulation and exercise, if you do not provide enough for your dog, then they will find a way to keep themselves entertained. Activities like eating the trash, barking at the neighbors, and digging holes are all examples of your dog potentially being bored. In these circumstances, they often find negative behaviors to stimulate themselves. Eating grass can also fall into this category of boredom, as the taste, smell, and texture are all information for your dog to process and keep their mind stimulated. For this reason, your dog may be bored in the backyard all by himself!
Your Dog’s Stomach May Be Distressed
Some experts have observed canines using grass as a self-medicated tool to cure stomach distress. When your furry friend has trouble with his stomach or digestive tract, sometimes they will turn to grass as the solution. If you notice this occurring frequently, especially if they vomit after eating the grass, consult with your vet on possible issues such as gastric reflux or irritable bowel syndrome. It is important to note that less than 25% of dogs vomit after eating grass, so if they are consistently vomiting and you cannot get them to stop, consult with your veterinarian ASAP.
How Do I Get My Dog to Stop Eating Grass?
Do not worry! Over 79% of dog owners have caught their dog eating grass or other plants at some time. Therefore, with something so common, it is important to stay calm and make note of what happens when they do eat grass, so that we can know how to address it.
- If they are eating the grass and not throwing it up, you can work the “leave it” command whenever they begin to rehearse the behavior. Use this command and follow with praise once they listen and stop eating the grass!
- If they are eating the grass and throwing it up sometimes, make sure to use the “leave it” command just like above, but keep an eye out for the vomit. Make sure to check to see if anything else is coming out other than the grass if / when they regurgitate. If you see any abnormal fluids or other non-plant material, consult with a veterinarian on a possible diet change or health checkup.
- If they are eating grass and throwing it up every time, they may be trying to seek relief from stomach distress. Continue to use the “leave it” command and reach out to your veterinarian to let them know the situation. A simple diet change or fiber supplement may do the trick and prevent them continuing to indulge in the grass.
If you have any trouble teaching the “leave it” command, or if your dog simply just ignores you, we can help! Check out our relationship-based training guide and schedule your free behavior assessment so we can help nip the grass eating in the bud!
Originally published at https://craftycanineclub.com on May 16, 2020.