Training a dog out of eating inanimate non food items AND off limits food items:
When you have a dog who eats/chews on everything you need to set him up to FAIL - this gives you an opportunity to teach him it's not a good idea to be putting his mouth on something he shouldn't, same applies to mouthy dogs.
When my lab x golden was a puppy I trained her to be a bird dog. She has an excellent nose and keen interest in birds. I would walk miles and miles through farmers fields full of ponds and tree thickets. If she found something 'edible' she's scoff it down and swallow it before I could get to her. On occasion these 'items' would make her sick and she'd never touch them again, for example a rotten gopher - this is good, it's a natural inborn trait MOST dogs have - if it makes them sick they won't eat it again, I've forgotten the technical term for this behavour. (Neophasia or something like that!)
However - the duck eggs wouldn't make her sick!
So one day, being fed up with a dog who would down dried up orange rinds to duck eggs, I took a tin can stuffed with rocks and nails and sealed it up and went out into the fields, I let her run and roam. As soon as she started scoffing on who knows what I told her to 'drop it' in a nasty tone, she didn't drop it, I shook that can of rocks and she dropped whatever it was in her mouth and ran.....perfect. If she didn't drop it that can became a carefully aimed airborne missile.
I applied the same technique at home, I would set her up by leaving a chunk of meat on the kitchen floor or putting it right under her nose on her bed, I'd say 'leave it' and walk away.....if she touched that meat I'd shake that can, run at her and growl and firmly insert my hand into her mouth and remove the item. Worked everytime.....she's nine now and hasn't put a rotten gopher or any other item in her mouth except for her food or a stick or ball for eight years. She can carry an egg in her mouth to me if I tell her to 'bring it'....but she won't eat it.
Rather than keeping a dog crated because of the damage they can do to your house or what they might ingest, set them up to fail and harshly correct them. Put that sock under the dogs nose, and if they even look at it 'get after them'.
I had a dog (she's very old now and lives with my mom in NZ) who would sneak the cat food, I scolded her and made her sit and stay by the cat bowl for two hours when I caught her.....she never ate it again.
Set them up to fail so they can succeed. Avoiding the issue by crating and leashing only exacerbates the issue when the dog is moving around at free will.
I'm sure now I could leave a whole hambone on my dogs bed all night and she wouldn't eat it......
You have to 'own' everything in your environment, you have to be able to reach into that dogs mouth and not have it tighten its grip on the forbidden item or your hand. Put the forbidden item right up against the side of the dogs muzzle and scold with an angry tone until the dog removes its eye contact and turns its muzzle well away from the item.....the dog is saying 'I understand....I don't want to touch that anymore'.
Also, just to add, regurgitation and vomiting are two different things.....regurgitation is normal after a dog gorges itself, that's how they take food back to the pups at the den, vomiting is very much a big deterrent to a dog. If a dog is regurgitating the food/item looks whole and is usually because the dog has gorged not because he or she has eaten a sickening/rotten piece of food.
Last edited by Muppetgirl; 04-23-2013 at 10:22 AM.