My mother has a dog, English Springer Spaniel Robbie, 6 years old. He has a habit of chewing and swallowing pieces of wood in the forest when we take our walks.

Chewing wooden sticks is normal for dogs, but actually eating pieces of wood is something else.

Why is this behavior happening and how can I teach him not to eat wood?

Sometimes it gets really painful for the dog when he relieves himself, he cries out really loudly. And I know he can't make the connection of eating wood resulting in pain when relieving himself. I know there is risk of the dog harming himself if he continues eating wood, I want to change this behavior as soon as possible.

The only way that works now is to just keep eye on him 100% of time when walking. And when he starts eating wood again, I shout and run at him...

Edit: The dog also has a habit of chewing his back paws. He hurt one of them till bleeding. Not sure if this is connected to the wood eating or not.

  • 2
    Talk to vet. I'm guessing this is stress behavior, and the question is whether the stress has a physical cause or is due to something about his environment.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 21:10
  • As @keshlam says, there may be something wrong with that foot. I don't really understand how a dog would be able to eat wood while walking, it may be worth considering tightening up your walking regimen so that walking is walking only and the dog should not be stopping to sniff/chase/bathroom/whatever. That way you would only have to watch him like a hawk while you are resting.
    – rlb.usa
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 15:27
  • 2
    @rlb.usa we take our morning walks in a nearby forest which has walkways. Dog is off the leash, and runs around freely, but always stays in ~15m meters distance of me. He sometimes starts eating wood he finds on the ground or starts eating the wooden stick I threw.
    – afaf12
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 17:40
  • @afaf12 I see; you could leash him and then it would be much harder for him to eat wood, but it seems like him being off leash is part of the attraction of your morning walks.
    – rlb.usa
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 19:37
  • @rlb.usa exactly, that's like the main attraction.
    – afaf12
    Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


Every dog I have had in the last 12 years (which is 31) has enjoyed gnawing on sticks, especially the younger ones, and since we live in the woods, there is never any shortage of nice ones. I don't know if it's more common in Border Collies (that's all I've had recently) but it sure does happen a lot. Dogs like chew toys. A lot. If I let them, they would eat an entire stick.

Thankfully none of the dogs ever suffered significant problems with that activity. Now, bones have really caused problems. :-(

However, I don't let my dogs outside alone for prolonged periods of time. On walks, I often throw balls for them, especially if they pick up a stick. I try to keep them moving (which stops them from settling down with a stick.) They also know "leave it". If they are sufficiently entertained on their walks (lots of interesting smells, water to play in, balls, etc.) the stick eating is minimized (the adults won't do it at all.) From watching the younger ones, it seems it feels good, so I replace it with a chew toy.

Keeping your dog on a leash will lessen the need to run at him to remove sticks. So will a soft basket muzzle.

There are some good tips in this article.

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