Whats the best way to train a 3 year old dog with PICA

Endless patience! I spent over $30,000 in vet bills taking care of my Pittie with pica. I give sharp EH while throwing a toy near them to catch her attention. Don’t waste time on no, it will get tedious. Also, you must become a very fastidious housekeeper-no exceptions. Have a small bag of doggy chew toys hanging up on a hook in each room.

When Sadie would go for something naughty, I taught her impulse control called, ‘WAIT.’ Put a treat on the floor near your hand. The moment she goes for it, put your hand on it and put it in your pocket. The moment she diverts to something else, take out the treat in your hand, palm up and just low enough for her to see/smell it. Calmly say Wait. When/if she tries to grab it, close your hand and say ‘EH’ sharply and nothing else. If your dog can go 7 seconds without trying to eat the treat off your hand, open your palm and say ‘OK!” in a happy voice with praise.

Move it up to eventually 30 whole seconds of staring at your treat filled palm and they don’t try to eat it or paw it.

Ready for the next step? It’s the most important. Drop the treat on the floor on purpose with your foot ready to cover the treat. According to how your dog reacts, repeat the palm closing behavior with your foot.

Once you’ve both mastered these, now’s the life saving step. Go to the counter with 2 kinds of treats. 1 is the everyday piece of kibble. It’s ok. Next to it, have the “ohyou’resuchagooddog” treat like peanut butter on a spoon or a piece of carrot.

Your dog will watch you at the counter and the table because there’s food there. Now drop the average kibble to the floor and say a quiet but firm, Wait. If they do wait like a good dog, grab the “ohyou’resuchagooddog” treat while removing the average one. Lavish her with calm loving praise and offer this ohsomuchbetter treat with the important word, ‘OK.’

I’ve dropped an entire bag of chocolate chips on the floor while my dog was by my feet. She wanted those treats but she waited till I told her OK and she got a whole cup of yogurt for being a good girl and not dying of eating so much chocolate. My pups would eat everything at the start so I understand!

Sadie getting her just reward and the joy on her face speaks volumes:

Training consistency will prevent your dog from eating bad things. Reward them and help them know that if they wait, they’ll get something even better. Mine even ate a baseball whole, a piece of broken light bulb and 2 batteries just to name a few!

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It really depends on how bad a case it is.
A Rotti pup I raised had the worst case of PICA. He’d gorge on grass, dirt, bark, sticks, gravel, anything. Then at 2–3am I’d be woken by the sounds of heaving as he threw up a pile of whatever he gorged himself on.

He could not be released in the backyard so I had to take him toilet on a leash every single time. It was so frustrating.

I built a paved enclosure so he had somewhere safe to eat his raw meaty bones.
He had severe behavioural issues where he only obeyed if I had dried liver treats or if I roared at him.

It was incredibly frustrating. At 16mo he was 60kg/132lb. He hurt my back being silly where I needed to be hospitalised.
No kennel would accommodate him so sadly I had no choice but to have him euthanised.

I’m sorry that I have no advise other than to watch your dog like a hawk and admonish when he/she takes something inappropriate in their mouth.
Use a muzzle that restricts the ability to eat when going outside to toilet [but don’t leave it on for more than an hour because they need to be able to drink]
Build a paved escape proof enclosure with shelter from the weather.

If it’s not an extreme case it is possible to correct but it takes vigilance and a lot of effort.

Good luck.

Pica can be life-threatening and sometimes there is no way to manage it but strict prevention.

Basket muzzles and foxtail hoods may be the solution. A dog is able to drink while wearing a foxtail hood and those are readily accepted by many dogs. Good luck!

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