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    1. #1
      alexalk's Avatar
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      Jun 2014
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      Eating Socks, etc.

      Theo is 11 months and has developed a nasty habit of swallowing socks and tissues whole. He also constantly swallows pieces of stick and bark from outside. The scary part is that we (my roommate and I) monitor him constantly, keep the bedroom/laundry room door closed when we're not in the room, keep him in the crate when we can't supervise him, and he still manages to steal our socks and swallow them before we know he's got them. He has become an expert at sneaking around. I typically don't find out that he's eaten socks until he poops them out. I'm concerned, as I know that this can cause obstructions. He knows drop it and leave it but has not mastered leave it. He also doesn't understand the concept of leaving it FOREVER (or maybe he understands, but just doesn't want to comply!); he will leave it perfectly when we're watching him, but as soon as we look away for a few seconds, he tries to gobble up whatever item we're keeping him from. I'm not sure how to help him. We've tried sprinkling cayan pepper on kleenex and socks to see if that deterred him, but he tried to eat it anyway. What else can I do? I don't want him to die a horrible death from intestinal obstruction!

    2. #2
      Senior Dog
      smartrock's Avatar
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      May 2014
      Carolina in my mind..
      Thanked: 2723
      One of mine was a sock eater and did have to have surgery for an obstruction. They don't have to die a horrible death but it can be expensive to have the surgery. Knowing your dog has a fondness for socks, I'd prepare myself financially in case that happens, by building up an emergency savings fund and/or by signing up for some sort of pet insurance. Make sure the insurance you get would cover that sort of surgery. Labs are notorious for eating stuff they shouldn't so, in addition to trying to avoid the problem, you should be prepared in case the worst happens.

      if he's still getting socks, you and your roommates need to be even more scrupulous about keeping them inaccessible. You already know that telling him to leave it only works if you're watching. This is seriously more a matter of training yourselves right now, more than training him. It's a huge pain, I know. I'm sure my dog did not associate his surgery with the act of eating the sock, so no deterrent there. He got at least 2, maybe 3 more socks after that. One I didn't know about until he puked it up in the middle of the night. The other he gulped down before I could get it away from him.

      If you see him grab and eat a sock, you can give him hydrogen peroxide, which will cause him to vomit. You pretty much need to do that within 30 minutes or so. I'd check with your vet to determine how much to give a dog the size of yours and how long you have to give it if you see him gulp something. Members on here have had dogs eat socks, underwear, dish towels, rocks, sticks, balls, squeakers from toys, all manner of things. He might outgrow his fascination but I think you've got another year, probably more, before that happens.

      Chase 9/29/2006- 6/30/2017 Always in our hearts
      Lark 12/25/2012
      Henry 7/14/18

    3. The Following User Says Thank You to smartrock For This Useful Post:

      alexalk (06-22-2014)

    4. #3
      Senior Dog
      bett's Avatar
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      May 2014
      baldwin, ny 11519
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      well, someone has to puppy proof better. socks cant be left where the dog can sniff them out(no pun intended).

    5. #4
      Real Retriever
      KenZ71's Avatar
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      May 2014
      Northeast USA
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      Great advice above.

      From my experience a tired dog is a good dog. Long off leash walks so he can run out the excess energy. Swimming if possible really helps too.

      Maybe divert some food to frozen / stuffed kongs to give him a safe outlet for chewing.
      -- Ken, owned by:

      Max - Black Lab mix gotcha 4/23/2012 Born 12/2011
      Scarlett - Yellow Lab gotcha 4/19/2013 Born 2008? 2007?
      Lizzy - Terrier mix gotcha 6/29/2014 Born 2006?
      Zeus - Papillon mix gotcha 1/30/2015 Born 3/26/2014

      Avatar: Ziggy, my kitty who crossed the bridge a few years ago.
      He slept in the sink for years, silly boy.
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    6. #5
      Senior Dog
      WhoopsaDaisy's Avatar
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      May 2014
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      Mine has an obsession with socks but mostly shoes. She does not eat them, she prances around in front of me and tries to get me to chase her. She just started doing it at about 15 months old, I have no idea why but I guess she felt she needed a bad habit.
      It is infuriating---but I realized I need to do a better job keeping the shoes and socks away from her. The hardest is when company is over -- Friday night she grabbed my friend's flip flops TWICE.
      For Daisy it doesn't matter how tired she is- she could've just come back from an hour long swim at the dog park--if there are shoes around it's GAME ON.
      I watch her go to by bedroom and come
      back disappointed with my closet door is closed. It took me a little while to get used to it but now that door is always closed. I'm managing this behavior for now but I'm hoping in time she loses interest in shoes. For now, all of my flip flops and my friends flip flops have teeth marks in them
      Katie and Aric (7/1/17) Hidden Content
      Whoops-a-Daisy B. 1-26-13 Gotcha 8-25-13
      Jett B 8-17-17, Gotcha 10-7-17

      “Once you have had a wonderful dog, a life without one, is a life diminished.”
      —Hidden Content (author,Hidden Content )

    7. #6
      Senior Dog
      MightyThor's Avatar
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      May 2014
      Bend, Oregon
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      Daisy sounds just like Thor. He leaves socks and other clothing but the shoes, especially flip flops, are his favorite. I swear that clumsy noisy puppy routine is all a ruse, since he can sneak around undetected if it means getting a flip flop in his mouth. And just as you say, this is as much a human training as a dog training. Of course he knows 'off' and 'drop it', but it's best if we don't have to use those at all. I no longer sit down at my desk and mindlessly kick off my sandals, otherwise he'll manage to quietly duck under there and grab them before I even notice he's moved from his nap. Now they go in the closet. He's had this annoying behavior since the day we brought him home, but it's taken me until about now to get into the habit of always putting them away. I think humans are harder to train than the pups!
      Mighty Thor, "So Much Dog", born 1/6/2014
      And baby Barley, born 3/9/2018

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      WhoopsaDaisy (06-22-2014)

    9. #7
      Senior Dog
      POPTOP's Avatar
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      May 2014
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      Archie does not eat socks but he does like shoes, not to chew, to swing around by the laces. His nemeses, cardboard. The other night I heard a thump, thump. Knew there were no shoes available and the sound stopped. Figured he was slamming his stick monkey again, sounded the same. Later, going into the spare bedroom, found that he had eaten the flap off a cardboard box. Not a single piece could be found, he totally consumed it. He did have some interesting poops, certainly larger than normal.

      We were lucky. I "thought" the bedroom door was closed but the latch had not caught and he pushed in knowing the box was there. Lesson, everything and I mean everything that I even suspect he might be interested in is behind closed doors and latch tested. It's the only way to be sure.

    10. #8
      Chief Pooper Scooper
      JenC's Avatar
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      May 2014
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      "Single" dogs need more exercise to break them of this kind of habit. Especially the ones that prace around with the objects trying to get you to chase them. Chase is THE game for dogs. It's the best thing out there. If you watch a pack of dog, a game of chase usually starts. And it's a smart dog that steals something of yours to entice you to chase them, just like we have dogs that steal the prized toy to get the other to go after them.

      If the dog still finds things to eat, you'll have to close all the doors, put up gates to block off parts of the house or consider tethering the dog to your side 100% of the time.

    11. The Following User Says Thank You to JenC For This Useful Post:

      alexalk (06-22-2014)

    12. #9
      House Broken
      Sam I Am's Avatar
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      May 2014
      Souther than the deep south
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      It sounds like you'll need to be more proactive about keeping things put away.
      Years ago I had one that loved underwear. I started keeping the clothes hamper locked in the closet and putting away clean clothes immediately from the dryer. Never was my house so tidy! Then she learned how to open the dresser drawer. I wound up having to take the knob off so she couldn't pull it open. It's hard to stay one step ahead of them!!

    13. #10
      Senior Dog
      Labradorks's Avatar
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      Jun 2014
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      Dogs will sometimes gobble when they know you're going to take it away or when they think they will get yelled at. When mine grab socks or things I don't want them to have, I get them to bring them to me and I ask for a drop while praising them like mad. It has worked on both of my Labs with very different personalities. They now grab stuff and bring it to me very excited and are happy to let me have it. You can trade what they have for food or toys, even. When an appropriate toy is in their mouth, get really excited. The important things are to not get mad or they won't come to you and to not chase them or it will become another kind of game.

      Your tone should be similar to thanking them. I know it sounds crazy, but it works. I tell mine, "thank you so much! you are such a big helper! wow!" They crowd around the dryer when I'm taking clothes out in the hopes I will drop something (it's the only time they have access to clothing as I keep my clothes in drawers and in a hamper) that they can pick up and give to me. The only problem I have is because I have two dogs, they sometimes hold the thing together and end up tugging it or chaos ensues as they "fight" over who gets to give it to mom and be the best helper. Just like little kids!

      Maybe this will help it make sense to you: In field training, I was told not to take the bird away from the young dog right away. Let them hold it, praise them like crazy, and then ask for the bird, but not in a mean or angry tone -- more like a "oh wow, thanks for bringing me that special bird!". Otherwise they will be hesitant to bring the bird back knowing they have to give it up right away. They might run away with it, play keep-away, or lay down and eat it.

      Now, since you already have a gobbler, a leave it command will be important. This should, again, be positive. You can set the dog up with a sock or whatever (just keep an eye on it so he doesn't snatch and swallow). Put a leash on your dog in case he does snatch it up and try to run. Get his meal ready. When he looks at the sock, tell him to leave it in a neutral voice, luring him with food if you need to, and when he does leave it, give him some food -- a handful -- and praise, praise, praise. Also, keep food on you all the time, or in bowls around the house where he can't get to it. Teach him the leave it command whenever you can. You can even ask him to leave a toy and then treat him, then pick up the toy and give him that, too. Again, be positive and make it a fun game and not a challenge. When he has a toy, you can ask him to drop it, trading for food (high value instead of kibble if you have to), lots of praise, then give him the toy back. I would, for awhile, only feed his meals in treat balls, kongs, etc. where he has to work at it, and/or the Ian Dunbar sit, down, stand sequence where you hand feed your dog his meals but he has to work for it. You could also feed him only while training. There are lots of training games you can play.

      This won't work if you are leaving socks and things around the house all the time, however. PICK UP THE SOCKS. It's not that difficult, especially if you don't have children (which from your post it sounds like you do not). Also, keep him exercised -- a tired dog is a good dog. Supply him with things he CAN chew and re-direct. Do not leave him outside unattended if he eats stuff. Crate him indoors when you cannot watch him. Keep bedroom and bathroom doors closed to limit his accessibility to socks. And, finally, get him some health insurance.

    14. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Labradorks For This Useful Post:

      alexalk (06-22-2014), KenZ71 (06-22-2014), Moby and Barley's Mom (05-21-2015)

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