Golden Retrievers can be very unusual sometimes and dirt eating is one of those unusual things that they sometimes do. It can be very concerning for you when you see your Golden Retriever eating dirt. Hopefully, this post will help you to figure out why your Golden Retriever is doing it and what to do about it.

So, why is your Golden Retriever eating dirt?

There are a number of possible reasons that your Golden Retriever could be eating dirt.

They include boredom, trying to satisfy nutritional deficiencies, to soothe an upset stomach, it smells food there, it likes the taste, an inherited trait or stress.

If your Golden Retriever has been doing it regularly over a prolonged period then take it to the vet to make sure nothing is wrong.

And, how should you stop your Golden Retriever eating dirt?

The best way to get your Golden Retriever to stop eating dirt will depend on the reason that it is doing it.

Possible things that you can do is to make sure your Golden Retriever gets lots of exercise, has a good diet, has other things to chew, is trained to come to you when you call it, and you can reduce the access that it has to dirt.  

It’s actually not that uncommon for Golden Retriever to eat dirt but it is important that you take measures to prevent it and to make sure that it doesn’t lead to your Golden Retriever getting sick.

Why Your Golden Retriever Is Eating Dirt

Below, I will show you a number of reasons why your Golden Retriever might be doing it and what would make them more likely to be the main reason.

Boredom

Golden Retrievers are meant to get daily exercise. When they do not get enough exercise, they will often start looking for their own stimulation and it will, sometimes, involve eating grass. A lack of exercise would be more likely to be the cause if it does it more on days where it has not gotten any exercise.

Generally, it is recommended for Golden Retrievers to get at least an hour of exercise per day as healthy adults.

Inherited trait

Some people believe that it was common for dogs to eat dirt before they were domesticated.

They would do it since they wouldn’t have been able to get food as easily so they would try to get some more nutrients from grass and dirt.

It could be that this is a trait that present-day dogs still have which is why they occasionally choose to eat dirt. This could be why wild dogs are often seen eating grass and dirt.

Nutrition

The reason why it does it could be that your Golden Retriever is looking to get minerals and vitamins that it isn’t getting in its diet.

If you’re unsure that your Golden Retriever is getting the nutrients that it needs then you can read on nutritional guidelines at petswebmd here.

The good news is that this is not usually the case but you should still take a moment to make sure that you’re feeding it the right things.

It’s sick

One proposed reason that Golden Retrievers and other dogs eat dirt is that they do it to ease an upset stomach. One way this happens is because the dirt can cause it to be sick causing its stomach to feel better.

Illness would be more likely to be the reason if it has started doing it suddenly. If you’re concerned that illness could be the cause then take it to a vet to make sure that nothing is seriously wrong.

It likes the taste

The cause could be that it likes the way it tastes. This would be more likely if it seems to do it at random times and if it does not show any other abnormal signs. In this case, it would help to give it training as mentioned below.

It smells food

The reason why it does it could be that it smells or tastes food there. This would be more likely if it eats dirt in an area where food has been previously.

Stress

Another cause could be that it’s a coping mechanism to put up with stress. If your Golden Retriever recently had something happen that could be causing it to be stressed such as a change of environment, a change of owner or if one of your other dogs died then this could be the cause.

How To Reduce How Much Your Golden Retriever Eats Dirt

Below are some options you have when getting your Golden Retriever to eat dirt less.

Ensure it is getting the right diet

It would help to make sure that it is eating correctly since an issue with its diet might be contributing to the behavior. It would help to consult with your vet on its diet, to make sure no one else has been feeding it and to read on nutritional guidelines at petswebmd here.

Exercise

It would also help to make sure that it is able to get daily exercise if it is a healthy adult. Generally, it is recommended for them to get at least an hour of exercise per day.

Give It other things to chew on

Another option you have is to distract your Golden Retriever from eating dirt. You can do this by giving it other things that will keep it occupied such as by giving it lots of toys to play with and by giving it lots of toys that it can chew on instead.

Train it to come to you

It would also help to train it to come to you on command. By doing so, it should make it easier for you to get it to stop when you see that it is about to start eating dirt.

You can watch the video below for some tips on how to do it.

Take it to a vet

If it has started doing it suddenly and it has been showing signs of being ill, the best option would be to take it to a vet. By doing so, you should be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular Golden Retriever and to rule out illness as a cause.

Reduce its access to dirt

The other way that you can reduce how much dirt it eats is by reducing the access that it has to dirt. You could do this by fencing off the areas with dirt in your backyard or you could try walking it in different areas.

Things to consider

Below are some things to consider about your Golden Retriever eating dirt.

Risks of eating dirt

Even though eating dirt is not something that will normally harm your Golden Retriever it is something that could harm it.

The dirt could contain poisons and pesticides which could be harmful. To prevent this from happening, try to avoid letting your Golden Retriever be in areas where there are likely to be poisonous things for it to eat. You can also make sure that you don’t have any poisonous plants in your garden.

It’s not very unusual

It would help to consider if anything else changed when it first started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.

If it started doing it suddenly, it would be more likely to be due to things such as a sudden. change in its diet, becoming ill or that it smelt food there.

What else happened when it first started doing it

If it did not always eat dirt, it would help to consider what else happened when it first started doing it since it could be the case that there was an event that caused it to start.

If it started doing it suddenly, it would make it more likely to be due to things such as becoming ill, stressed, a change in its diet or smelling food there.

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Author

I created and currently manage Pet Dog Owner, the website you can go to when you have questions about your dog's behavior. It is my hope that you find Pet Dog Owner to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your dog. You can read more about me and my website here.