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How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Mulch

How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Mulch

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Dogs are known for eating just about anything that they can fit into their mouths that has a remotely noticeable scent to it. From the food that you cook yourself to the freshly mowed grass in your lawn, dogs seem to eat just about anything and everything as if they have stomachs of steel.

However, the truth of this matter is that dogs do not have the strongest stomachs and they may try to eat things that won’t do them well.

This can be difficult to deal with, especially when your dog is particularly stubborn about trying to eat something in your yard. One of the most common instances of this is when a dog chooses to eat grass until it ends up puking the grass back up.

While this is certainly annoying, dogs tend to do this for the purpose of throwing up, often when a dog feels as if something is bothering its digestive systems.

There are some cases when dogs will eat something that they won’t “benefit” from in any way and that it may harm them. If you are wondering why your dog might do this, you should consider the fact that most dogs have a mental age of a two or three-year-old person.

The way that both of these will explore the world around them is by putting things in their mouths, and this often means ingesting the thing in question.

There are times when this behavior might lead to your dog eating something that it really shouldn’t eat, such as mulch. Mulch is often a combination of wood chips and dirt that people will add to their yard for a variety of reasons.

Freshly Mulched Garden

Mulch also tends to have a very strong smell, which can be quite enticing to a curious dog, especially if the dog has never smelled mulch before.

If your dog is stubborn about trying to eat the mulch in your yard, you may want to do what you can to stop the dog from doing this.

Before you can really learn the best way to stop your dog, you are going to want to have a good understanding of why your dog may want to eat mulch and also why you should stop your dog from eating much of the mulch.

What Is So Special About Mulch?

Beagle on Top of Mulch Pile

More often than not, your dog will be interested in mulch because it is something new and different that has been added to its territory.

This is especially the case if this is the first time that your dog has ever seen or smelled mulch before, as it will be a completely foreign concept to the dog. In the eyes of a dog though, there’s a lot more about mulch that can seem enticing.

For instance, dogs are known for their love of sticks. Many dogs enjoy being able to chase sticks that you throw in the yard, and plenty of dogs will try to bring their favorite sticks inside.

Mulch, being made from wood chips of various sizes, can elicit that same curiosity and interest in dogs who tend to like wood. Not only does it smell good to your dog, but there’s a good chance that the wood can feel good on the dog’s gums.

For some dogs, specifically those who have a fixation on chewing, mulch can be the perfect thing to try and chew and ingest.

The wood will feel and taste good in the dog’s mouth and the toughness of the wood will provide enough substance for the dog to chew on that it will likely try and stay in the mulch pile where it can graze like a horse would. This is something you will need to be aware of.

There are several other reasons why a dog may have an interest in the mulch, but these are some of the largest and most common reasons you will encounter.

Now that you have a good understanding of why your dog has taken an interest in the mulch, you will also want to know why it is so important to keep your dog away from the mulch aside from the occasional sniff.

What Is the Problem with Mulch?

Petting Sick Dog

Mulch can come with a wide variety of issues for your dog, which is why it is so important for you to try and keep your dog from chewing and eating it as much as possible.

One of the biggest threats that mulch poses is the fact that the wood chips are not something that dogs are supposed to be eating. Depending on the size of the wood chip, you can run into quite a few problems.

Smaller wood chips have the threat of causing an intestinal blockage, perforations, and other similar problems. Not to mention that a dog’s stomach is not designed to break down pure wood like that.

Swallowing and consuming wood can lead to indigestion, intestinal distress, and discomfort for your dog, no matter how large the wood piece is.

The larger the wood pieces are, the more dangerous they become. There is a significantly increased chance that they will become stuck somewhere in your dog’s digestive tract and there is also a bigger chance that it could become stuck in the dog’s windpipe.

If the mulch your dog has taken an interest in has particularly large wood chips, you will want to do what you can to keep your dog away from it.

Mulch, due to its moist nature, can also carry molds in it. Not only can it carry mold, but it can also contain residual pesticides as well. Both of these can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, and worse in your dog.

Cocoa Bean (Cacao Shells) Mulch

Cocoa bean mulch has a higher tendency to have mold and it also contains the same toxins in it that make chocolate problematic for dogs.

Considering how many problems there are with mulch, you will want to do what you can to make sure that you keep your dog as far away as possible from the mulch. If your dog is younger and more receptive to training and learning commands, you may be able to successfully train it not to have an interest in mulch anymore.

Otherwise, you will simply need to steer the dog clear of mulch during your daily walks.

Keeping the Dog Away From Mulch

Pug and French Bulldog on Leashes

Now that you understand how much of a threat mulch can pose to your dog’s well being, you will want to make sure that you can keep your dog away from it so that there is no chance that you are going to have to take your dog to the vet.

It can go without saying that the most effective and safest way to get your dog to stop consuming the mulch is to remove its access to it.

This means that, when you pass by the mulch on a walk with your dog, you tighten your hold on its leash so that the dog has no method of getting to the mulch. Your dog may be stubborn about this and try to pull against you, but with enough times where the dog cannot get to the mulch, it will eventually learn to let the mulch go.

If the mulch is in your yard from a neighbor’s project, you can easily get rid of the mulch yourself. This method is going to be the best way to prevent your dog from getting into the mulch, as once you remove it, there won’t be anything for your dog to get into.

However, this is not applicable to parts of your yard where you need to have mulch for other reasons. You should try and clean up the mulch when it will be applicable to you.

Sometimes, dogs will chew on (and subsequently ingest) mulch because the dog has a case of boredom and wants something to do and chew on. Before you go on a walk with your dog, you may want to encourage it to use a chew toy.

Dog on Leash With Toy in Mouth

It may take you a few tries to find a chew toy that suits your dog and its preferences, but if you can satisfy your dog’s need to chew, you won’t have to worry about it trying to chew on the wood out of boredom.

You will also want to try and put some effort into teaching and training your dog to understand that mulch is not a toy or something that is supposed to be chewed on.

This is going to be a task that is much easier said than done, but it will be well worth it to learn how to properly discipline your dog so that you do not have to fight it every time it takes an interest in mulch.

You can use a variety of training methods to keep your dog away from the mulch, including both positive and negative reinforcement (praising the dog for not going to the mulch and saying “no” to the dog and pulling it away when it chooses to walk toward the mulch), using anti-chew sprays for some smaller patches of mulch that you have in your yard, scold the dog if it manages to snag some bites of mulch, and so on.


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