My rescue eats rock...
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Pet Behavior My rescue eats rocks

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(@Leslie P)
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Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 2
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We travel full time with a deaf (around 3 year old) boxer. We rescued her 1.5 years ago. She is a joy and wonderful to have in our life. We walk or hike with her every day around 3 miles. She gets our attention constantly. If we have visitors, the only time she does it, she starts to eat rocks. No other time does she do it. I’m certain it’s for attention, but being deaf I can’t always catch her. It’s concerning and expensive because we take her to the vet due to concerns for damage. We treat her lovingly and never hit her to stop her. 

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Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 14

Hi Leslie.

Thank you for rescuing Sunny!

What you are describing is called pica. Often pica and/or licking cement is most often associated with anemia and/or low iron in the blood. Has your vet done a screening blood panel? I would ask her/him to include cardiac tests since Boxers are at risk for heart disease (it's a breed risk).

However, it can be behavioural and that is a problem often difficult to solve. Do you think she is anxious around strangers, friends? Is she food or toy motivated? It might be worth trying distraction techniques to reduce her anxiety when people are around. And you are so right that scolding is not a good way of solving any problem. 

There are very good dog behaviourists that could be your next step if she is resistant to your gentle reward techniques. Many of these pros are on-line.  I recommend doing research, reading reviews and, if you are uncomfortable with the expert, changing immediately.  I am not a fan of Caesar Chavez and I would look for a certified pro. Here is a website with good information. 

First step is a general health panel with cardio, if you haven't already done it. It is best to rule out a physiological problem first.

Let me know if you have any questions and let me know how you and Sunny are doing.

Dr. Karel

This post was modified 1 year ago by Karel Carnohan DVM

(@Leslie Pederson)
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Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

We tried your recommendations, but she is actually becoming more obsessed with the rocks. We have had boxers for 30 years so she gets a full work-up every year with blood and cardiac tests. She’s perfectly healthy girl. Which we are so grateful for. She’s a very well-behaved loving dog. We walk her 3 miles a day, we have special toys for her when we have company. Now she ignores them entirely, even when it’s just us with her. She literally shakes if we stop her from picking up a rock. We are contacting a behaviorist (a qualified one) and her rescue group are very helpful too. She’s very smart and intuitive so I know we will find the answer. Thank you so much for your timely response!

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(@Dr. Karel)
New Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 3

Thank you for the update and the picture. She is adorable.

Kudos to you for working hard on this.  These problems can be very difficult to figure out and deal with. It takes determination and a lot of love. 

I think a behaviourist is your best next step. Please let me know how it goes.

Dr. Karel


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