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Monday, February 25, 2008

Sam Eats Leaves


Hi Jan...
Sam, our soft coated wheaten just had his first birthday and tries hard to be our "very best friend" (in spite of the terrier tendencies). Behavior wise, he is doing pretty well. However, he still cannot be trusted to go outside unsupervised even though the yard is fenced because he EATS LEAVES, STICKS and most anything. Then - in the night he throws up in his crate. Ben suggested a soft muzzle when he goes outside.

I am assuming the "barfage" is from eating foreign stuff but it happens about once a week. We thought maybe we were overfeeding him so cut back from 1 cup to about 1/2 - 3/4 cup morning and evening. He weighs about 34 pounds. What are your thoughts?

Sherry


Hi Sherry,
I wouldn't even worry about Sam eating sticks and leaves and throwing up at night. He's going to outgrow it, and at least he's not throwing up every night. Right now he's very "oral," and everything is a toy to him, including sticks and leaves. Rocks are a different matter, so definitely restrict his access to those.

A muzzle wouldn't really be fair to him, because he has a natural need to explore, sniff, taste and chew. Therefore, you simply manage the opportunities he has to do those things. You might try more structured outdoor exercise for him, like playing fetch or working on obedience, or leash walks. That way he won't have time to eat sticks and leaves, and he'll be too tired if he DOES have the chance. Chewing sticks, etc., indicates a lot of pent-up energy, so find another way for him to release that.

Have you thought about agility training or rally obedience for him? Mentally stimulating activities will also zap him of the energy he needs to chew the wrong stuff.

Regarding his weight...just feel around through all that hair. You should feel his ribs as you run your hands along his sides, but they should not be protruding.

Jan

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