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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Dog Dog breed Carnivore Ear Whiskers
My son's young female golden won't leave toads, toadstools, mice, bark, weeds, anything and everything she can get ahold of, alone. She usually chews but sometimes will ingest things and sometimes becomes extremely sick. I've run up hundreds of dollars in vet bills because I'm scared when she's so violently ill. And our vet clinic is always more than happy to help. This usually involves X-rays (looking for blockage) and $75 anti-nausea injections. I've learned which vet to ask for because not everyone there runs up the bill but, I can't argue how sick she gets and I'm not able to muzzle her or watch her every minute she's outside. I realize this is part of having this breed dog, she's my 2nd retriever, our last one lived to be 16 and I want this one to make it that far, too! I also wondered if I need to do something about the area where my dogs are allowed to run. I have a small backyard with a 6 foot stockade fence. The soil is damp because it is shaded and I also have a deck, so shaded underneath. I put lattice around the deck because she was getting under the deck, chasing mice and chipmunks. So far, it's held her back. I'm thinking she's maybe eating carcasses or possibly the toads. Either way, something makes her very sick at times. Like yesterday when I came home from work, not good at all.
Advice, thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
 

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"Pica" (a dog's sometimes inexplicable craving to eat things that aren't food) can be tough to troubleshoot and figure out. Sometimes there is a reason for the dog doing it, and it will start and stop from time to time, and other times the dog just does it consistently and inexplicably. I have owned 6 golden retrievers and 1 lab, and they all eat sticks. I've had other dogs that eat poop from time to time, and one bulldog that has a thing with toads. Toad poisoning can be a problem.

I think most of the time it is inexplicable and no cause of it can be narrowed down, but other times something, such as a deficiency in something like vitamins, minerals or even fiber, can cause it.

I would recommend doing some research on the causes of pica and some ideas that might help out. Sometimes vitamin supplements can help. Other times actual conditioning training helps (i.e., negative reinforcement when they attempt to eat things.... goldens are very trainable dogs, and this can work).

In the meantime, if you don't want your dog getting sick, I think you should adopt a temporary process of only letting your dog out supervised. When dogs eat things that can cause blockage and/or bloat, it can kill them, and this is common in retrievers, so you should remain vigilant.
 
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An unattended dog with prey drive .....
A dog , not unlike a human toddler finding the world is a science experiment testing everything by tasting it and mouthing it and eating it...
Supervision is needed. Exercise and being in a " childproof" environment ,but not one lacking stimulation would be a start.

A proper outdoor kennel has a purpose. I am no fan of leaving a dog in one detached from the pack/ family dynamic , but a proper one can reduce ( not eliminate) trouble while the dog gets some sun and can go potty..
If toads are not checked for,snakes ect.. they will turn up.
Leaves ,acorns,poop,bugs,gravel ,wood ...all are new at one time and can be expected to be checked out. A paw can not tell by touching what mouthing can.

A beef shank bone long enough to not swallow can provide entertainment but like everything ,not unattended. If in time the bone is not sheared or fractured the dog might be allowed time without you supervising , but who is at fault if the dog ingests a large piece?
A break from boredom is needed. Often.

Your sons (is he working with this dog?) dog is about at a human first grade mentality.
We don't allow such age youths to run at will in strange environments for a reason.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Great replies. You both sound like you have a lot of experience with such matters. My son is elementary age and has some physical limitations that prevents consistent, daily walking. She is a "papered" golden we rescued when she was given up at 7 months. Like I said, I have some experience with the breed, as well as labs but, I also have the sick child, am a widow and work full time. Our other dogs are good examples and don't put up with her nonsense. We do training in good weather outside as much as possible, depending on how her boy is feeling. I never heard of pica. Our vet clinic is a wonderful resource and will be more than willing to help however, I have to limit them sometimes because of expense. In a perfect world I would spare no expense for her but, this is not my situation! I feed her Iams Adult Proactive feed. It is in a blue bag. She doesn't have any health issues we are aware of, her coat and skin look good, ears and eyes are clear. Does anyone think would be a way to discourage the toads, snakes and other little creatures from hanging around our yard? She's not outside long if unattended. Usually fewer than 15 minutes however, she could get into all sorts of trouble in that amount of time! I'm thinking I should create a smaller area for potty use and then let her run the yard area when we are watching. Thanks so much for the replies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Was also going to ask for opinions on dog parks. Our trainers says to avoid them. Our vet says they're ok. My experiences have been so-so but my other 2 dogs are now 11 and 17. It's been ages since we've been to one.
 

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I also think a KENNEL RUN while you are unable to watch her would be a good idea. Are they allowed in your NEIGHBORHOOD? If so, they are much cheaper than the eventual VET BILLS that will quickly stack up. Inside our dogs are CRATED if left alone, outside they are in a GATED KENNEL all for their own protection. Someone on here may have one that they are not using that they could part with for a reasonable price? Also you can find them very reasonable on Craigslist or LetGo, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Her crate is really a cage, plenty big for her to stand, stretch, curl up or have a bed of some kind, which always gets destroyed. I have a very heavy stainless water dish, her indestructible chew toys, some of which I don't give her when we leave. By kennel you mean the chain link type that would be large enough for her to run around in?
 

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My son is elementary age and has some physical limitations that prevents consistent, daily walking. She is a "papered" golden we rescued when she was given up at 7 months. Like I said, I have some experience with the breed, as well as labs but, I also have the sick child, am a widow and work full time. Our other dogs are good examples and don't put up with her nonsense.
I do not mean disrespect, but it sounds like you've added this dog to your home--and I say you, because while you said it's your son's dog, you also said your son is elementary aged and has physical limitations and is sick... so as practical matter I am assuming you are essentially the owner and caregiver of this dog, which more or less was a rescue dog at the age of 7 months, but is now 19 months old (and kudos to you rescuing the dog, btw).

It also sounds like you have other dogs, a tight work schedule, and are a single parent. Caring for an extra dog in this situation is no easy task, and I'm sure you're aware of it.

This all being said, it sounds like it's possible that the dog needs more close attention. It's distinctly possible that the dog's behavior you are concerned about is the result of boredom and lack of supervision rather than a bona fide case of pica (or perhaps a little of both).

The outdoor kennel run is an option you may want to explore. If you put the dog in there, consider letting the dog be joined by your other dogs. The same applies to when you let them out supervised. Dogs are pack animals. They learn from their pack. The should be more consumed with messing around as a group than fiddling by themselves eating sticks, poop and toads. Busy dogs, with other dogs, and/or supervised by a disciplined owner, I think seldom get into these kinds of troubles.
 

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And don' t sell your son short. He is part of the dogs life , and vice versa.
Dogs adapt better than many people.

Some of mine adapted to my not walking ,while others have never known any other difference.
They still connect. Still need that connection and care.
In exchange I have non biased support. Well ,slight bias perhaps ; but a positive one.
 

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Her crate is really a cage, plenty big for her to stand, stretch, curl up or have a bed of some kind, which always gets destroyed. I have a very heavy stainless water dish, her indestructible chew toys, some of which I don't give her when we leave. By kennel you mean the chain link type that would be large enough for her to run around in?
Yes that is correct. With multiple dogs, I am not sure if this is an option or not though ... You can find some cheaper kennels online used. A small kennel in the yard with a walk in door entrance. If allowed at your home (zoning regulations) , you have options for what to do with the bottom. You could leave it with a grass bottom, put pea gravel in it or easier yet for a single homemaker/mother you could easily put down some of the LARGE SQUARE PAVER SQUARES (12" by 12") on some or all of it. At least that way you can move it around the yard someday if needed. When finding location, think about a shady area in the summer heat and where the sun would shine in the winter to warm the dog up if possible. A simple dog house inside the run with available water (we use stainless steel pails clipped to the fence) and safe toys, would be everything you need to leave her outside while you are at work or cannot watch her. Paver squares stop them from digging, keeps them from eating grass and weeds and helps to keep their nails filed down, too. If you can put a kennel up close enough to a water hose it is easy to wash down when the ground is not frozen, too. Just some ideas for you to think about. Of course some smaller critters still can come in. We have found an occasional toad in our dog kennels. We find that walking the dog everyday, EVEN TOGETHER as a FAMILY is nice bonding time to discus the day, It helps to get everyone out for some fresh air and some exercise, too. All YOUNGER DOGS need MORE EXERCISE than the older dogs as it is natural for them to have SO MUCH MORE ENERGY!! Even throwing a ball or Frisbee for retrieves is a GREAT thing to do everyday. They now make an inexpensive tennis ball thrower that is easy to throw a long distance without much arm effort, either. See link below. I think anyone should be able to do that for a little while as part of their everyday responsibility. BOREDOM is the number reason for most PROBLEM YOUNG DOGS:
Chuckit! Classic Launcher, Color Varies, Original - Chewy.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yes, we had a thrower until she got ahold of it and chewed it to pieces in the amount of time it took me to hobble across the yard! (Foot surgery gone awry, which doesn't help matters any.) Her jaw strength is phenomenal. I don't recall my black labs having the strength she does, I jokingly call her Jaws of Death. I live in an urban area and I am afraid she might be stolen if I kenneled her while we were gone all day long. Plus the older dogs would not do well, at least I doubt they would. They're very much house pets. Maybe I chose the wrong place to ask for advice but I didn't know where else to turn. The fetch sessions after work are becoming a habit and are great at getting her to settle down after a long day being cooped up indoors. I'm thinking about driving home midday to let her out and play fetch for a half hour or so. I'm about 10 minutes away and it would be worth it to keep her from destroying her health out of boredom!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
And don' t sell your son short. He is part of the dogs life , and vice versa.
Dogs adapt better than many people.

Some of mine adapted to my not walking ,while others have never known any other difference.
They still connect. Still need that connection and care.
In exchange I have non biased support. Well ,slight bias perhaps ; but a positive one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
They are best friends. It has been a wonderful help for my boy, he lost his dad just before turning 4 and has a lot of health issues and chronic pain. He has grown up with our 2 dogs, now 11 and 17, they are very much best buddies to him. Last summer my brother told me about this pup needing a home and I didn't think the oldest of our dogs was going to make it through the winter. We met the pup, decided it was a great match and here we are! Oh, and my oldest dog is still kicking, I think just to spite me. My twenty four year old daughter says the old dog is mad at me because by bringing the pup into her pack I "ruined her golden years"!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I do not mean disrespect, but it sounds like you've added this dog to your home--and I say you, because while you said it's your son's dog, you also said your son is elementary aged and has physical limitations and is sick... so as practical matter I am assuming you are essentially the owner and caregiver of this dog, which more or less was a rescue dog at the age of 7 months, but is now 19 months old (and kudos to you rescuing the dog, btw).

It also sounds like you have other dogs, a tight work schedule, and are a single parent. Caring for an extra dog in this situation is no easy task, and I'm sure you're aware of it.

This all being said, it sounds like it's possible that the dog needs more close attention. It's distinctly possible that the dog's behavior you are concerned about is the result of boredom and lack of supervision rather than a bona fide case of pica (or perhaps a little of both).

The outdoor kennel run is an option you may want to explore. If you put the dog in there, consider letting the dog be joined by your other dogs. The same applies to when you let them out supervised. Dogs are pack animals. They learn from their pack. The should be more consumed with messing around as a group than fiddling by themselves eating sticks, poop and toads. Busy dogs, with other dogs, and/or supervised by a disciplined owner, I think seldom get into these kinds of troubles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I do not mean disrespect, but it sounds like you've added this dog to your home--and I say you, because while you said it's your son's dog, you also said your son is elementary aged and has physical limitations and is sick... so as practical matter I am assuming you are essentially the owner and caregiver of this dog, which more or less was a rescue dog at the age of 7 months, but is now 19 months old (and kudos to you rescuing the dog, btw).

It also sounds like you have other dogs, a tight work schedule, and are a single parent. Caring for an extra dog in this situation is no easy task, and I'm sure you're aware of it.

This all being said, it sounds like it's possible that the dog needs more close attention. It's distinctly possible that the dog's behavior you are concerned about is the result of boredom and lack of supervision rather than a bona fide case of pica (or perhaps a little of both).

The outdoor kennel run is an option you may want to explore. If you put the dog in there, consider letting the dog be joined by your other dogs. The same applies to when you let them out supervised. Dogs are pack animals. They learn from their pack. The should be more consumed with messing around as a group than fiddling by themselves eating sticks, poop and toads. Busy dogs, with other dogs, and/or supervised by a disciplined owner, I think seldom get into these kinds of troubles.

Yes, well, since my son is a minor child and minor children cannot legally own any property, the dog belongs to me. I call her my son's dog because if I didn't have my son, I highly doubt I'd have gotten this dog! I am the responsible party for everything that goes on around here, including pet care. Absolutely my choice. I love having dogs and if I had a choice, I'd quit my job and stay home full time and play fetch all afternoon with her but, that's not my lot in life, darn it!! We share the chores and the fun, depending on how my son's feeling. I do know all 3 of our dogs are very perceptive and respond when he is in pain which, unfortunately, happens often. I don't know if it's because animals are nonverbal or what but they're extremely sensitive to how he's feeling. It's no mystery to me that companion dogs are often used for people with all kinds of health issues. We are a family, a pack, if you will, and I'm the one in charge. Being a widow I assume I'm the alpha and the omega, lol? They are a part of my pack, just how I run it around here. That might not be the way hunters do it but it's the way I do it because it works for us.
 
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