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Old 08-16-2011, 09:23 AM
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Is eating moss safe?

OK, now, every time we go outside, Remington makes a bee line to the fence where the moss grows. He eats it so fast like it's the best food ever. I have taken many large clumps out of his mouth. Though the yard is fenced, I am having to take him out on a leash. Should I care that he's eating so much moss, grass, dirt, sticks? I should mention that it is not making him vomit or have diarrhea. Nor, is it filling him up as his appetite is fine. He is 10 weeks old. Thank you!
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Old 08-16-2011, 01:16 PM
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Our pup is now 15 weeks..and does the same exact thing....it does not seem to phase him....and he eats it faster than we can dig it out of his mouth. His interest is a tad less than a few weeks ago....but he still loves it. yuck.
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Old 08-16-2011, 01:29 PM
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I wouldn't worry too much. Cooper is 12 weeks and did the same thing a week ago, now he's moved on to an infatuation with digging in the flower beds. If your pup starts eating it to the point at which it's a full blown meal... well, then I'd worry. But what I've found with Cooper, is that the more we try to prevent him from eating what we think is nasty, or the more we pull stuff out of his mouth, the more he wants it and the more adamant he becomes about doing it. I'd just try to redirect him with toys or treats, and if he doesn't realize "This treat tastes WAY better than that moss over there" well, then that's his loss He'll grow out of it.

Good luck!
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Old 08-16-2011, 02:00 PM
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Just watch out for mushrooms. Here in CA we have poisonous mushrooms that grow under the oak trees. I have a friend who loss her pup to them. It was devastating.
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:34 PM
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Practice "leave it" because ideally you don't want him running around the yard eating things without you seeing what they are. One toxic example are mushrooms... better safe than sorry. Stop the moss eating!
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Old 08-16-2011, 09:22 PM
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Practice "leave it" because ideally you don't want him running around the yard eating things without you seeing what they are. One toxic example are mushrooms... better safe than sorry. Stop the moss eating!
Thanks! What's the best way to teach "leave it"?
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Old 08-17-2011, 11:38 AM
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My 13 week-old goldie, Daisy, is pulling out clumps of grass as well, but she seems more interested in chewing on it than she is with eating it! I'm hoping that it's a puppy phase...have had three other dogs (collie, shepherd, and cocker), and don't recall any of them having issues with pulling up grass clumps and chewing.
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Old 08-19-2011, 12:21 AM
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Bailey is 6 months now, and still loves to get every blowing leaf that goes by (gee, can't wait for fall!). When she is swimming, she goes after anything that floats, and eats moss etc along the water's edge. "Leave it" has worked well....She sometimes still goes after it, but she know now that she has to "give" if she gets it in her mouth. She hasn't had any vomiting or the runs with the additional "roughage", except when she did it at the ocean, and got some gulps of salt water in her mouth when she was catching things floating in the water(now that was gross afterwards).

Teaching "give"....Whenever she had something in her mouth already that she wasn't supposed to, I would tell her to "give" and put my hand just below her mouth, and I would be holding a toy or treat to trade for the item. As she was releasing the item into my hand or onto the floor, I would repeat "give" so she would associate the command and the action together. Lots of praise in addition to the toy or treat as a reward. She is always a "good girl" when she gives me what's in her mouth, as in that moment she is responding to the give command (even though I might not be happy about what she has in there). I have been working on "mine", to help her understand that certain items are not for her to have at all.

Teaching "leave it" is sometimes a work in progress, depending on how tempting the item is (leaves seem to be fascinating for her). Early on, I would tell Bailey to "leave it" as she is trying to get an item...catching her early in the motion was more effective, and watching body language helped to gauge the lunge or grab before it happened. I like to use sound as it works with Bailey(a "ch" sound, like the Cesar Millan approach), so when I see the beginning of an unacceptable behaviour too, I will "ch", see if she avoids temptation, say "leave it", and if need be, re-direct or put myself in between her and the item, or keep her on the leash so that I controlled how much access she would have to an item as she was learning the command. I use "leave it" for anything I don't want her to have to go towards, so she learned that this command means that she can't have or go to 'that', whatever 'that' is. Another way was to walk her past the tempting thing on a leash and as she went for the item, tell her to "leave it" and re-direct her attention to toy or food.

When Bailey was as young as your pup, she went out on a leash so I could control how much she could explore. We ended up setting up a temporary dog run using snow fence as she loved to rip through the flower beds and try to eat mulch when I first started letting her out off leash. The area was chosen so that it doesn't have any of the temptations I wanted her to leave alone. I know some people have used chicken wire or something to cover the temptation ...maybe for now as he gets older and you work on training (or he gets past this phase)?

There are many more experienced people on the forum who can give you some training tips, and probably more effective ideas than mine. My goldens all had different personalities and responded in different ways to training, and these ideas are what has worked with Bailey. It can be frustrating sometimes to get them to learn to leave things in the early days, and it helps to remember that using their mouth to learn and explore (um, eat) everything at this stage. Sorry for the long ramble!
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Old 08-19-2011, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bowdense View Post
Thanks! What's the best way to teach "leave it"?
We practiced having a treat in each hand. Present one hand palm up to the puppy and say "leave it" and then reward with treat from the other hand (behind back). You may need to start with your palm not open the entire way or a little higher than the pup can easily reach. It won't take long for them to realize that leaving it will get them a treat from elsewhere. At the beginning, reinforce/reward even a little hesitation from the first treat. Build up to putting the treat closer and for longer. Then you can also build up to the treat on the floor or on other surfaces like real life scenarios such as pizza on a plate on the coffee table but instead of pizza a piece of hot dog, etc. I sometimes change up the treats so when the dog leaves it, they get something higher value such as a piece of hot dog. I also always had treats on me in a treat training bag so that I could reward and reinforce behaviors such as this. Also make sure to get enrolled in a good puppy class for proper socialization and training if you haven't done so yet.
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