Why Does My Dog Eat Dirt? [How to Break Their Habit]

Why Does My Dog Eat Dirt

So, why does my dog eat dirt? Dogs are dogs and they do some funny and off the wall things. Being dogs they naturally will want to sniff out where other dogs have been and will do some weird things like eat dirt.

There are several reasons why a dog eats dirt: Their food is bad, they may have a medical condition, the dirt is tasty for some reason, behavioral issues, or they may be having digestive problems.

In this article I’m going to go over the 5 main reasons dogs will eat dirt, as well as is it bad for a dog to eat dirt? Also some tips on what you can do to break their habit of eating dirt.

While your dog may eat dirt on occasion it may not be a serious issue, if their behavior seems quite excessive it’s a good idea to bring your dog to your veterinarian for a medical checkup. Your veterinarian can go over your dog’s diet with you and recommend any changes needed to change your dog’s dirt eating habit. Let’s look at each reason in detail below:

So, Why Does My Dog Eat Dirt?

Number 1] Food is Bad… What I mean is the food your dog is eating may not be containing some minerals and much needed vitamin’s and may also be lacking some good probiotic bacteria that a good healthy diet should have.

If your dog is eating lots of Kibbles and an unstable food diet this could be the cause of why your dog is eating dirt. Your dog could also have a food disorder known as “Pica” this is when dogs eat many things and is usually caused by a lack of minerals or an unbalanced diet.

One thing you can do when it pertains to your dog’s food is to read the labels on the food packages ensuring that your dog is getting the required nutrients and minerals as well as the necessary vitamins needed for good health.

Number 2] Health Issues… Your dog eating dirt can also be an indication of a health condition with the most common being an inflamed bowel or even hypothyroidism. When the bowel is inflamed it can cause bleeding with can lead to anemia. If this condition is present your dog may be eating dirt to increase their mineral into to help with the anemia.

With “hypothyroidism” the result is usually anemia and can lead to other conditions, other issues like kidney disease can also cause this condition. Keep an eye on your dog and if the eating dirt continues then you should take your dog to a vet for an exam and tests.

Number 3] Dirt Tastes Good… Sometimes your dog has found a tasty bit of food in the ground especially around or under your outdoor barbecue or someone has dropped something good on the ground.

If your dog keeps returning to the same spot to eat some dirt, check that spot for something that is attracting them to go back to that area and dig around and eat dirt.

Number 4] Behavioral Problems… Just like us humans when we get bored or are stressed out we have some bad habits we turn too. Well the same thing happens to our pets and especially dogs who want to be active, but don’t always get the attention they require.

A few puppies will do out of the ordinary things like eating dirt simply because they don’t know what else to do or are just plain bored. Adult dogs may simple need some exercise and more playtime especially if they have been in the house for a while.

Your dog needs to fit into the family and have a purpose, this is especially true if you have a breed that is high energy and knowing how to use up this energy can really help with the behavioral issues.

If you need some help to deal with these issues I would recommend you check out this simple training strategy called “Brain Training for Dogs” where Adrienne Farricelli a professional CPDT-KA certified dog trainer reveals the secrets for using your own dog’s natural ability to stop bad behavior. You can learn more here.

Just like us humans dogs can also get OCD [obsessive-compulsive disorder]. This could be the reason why your dog eats dirt. If you want to find out bring your dog to your vet and they can run some tests.

Number 5] They Have an Upset Stomach… Eating dirt might not seem that appetizing but some types of clay soil can actually aid in soothing a dogs digestive problems. Your dog may be trying to eat whatever just to get his digestive system working either by pushing the bad stuff out or by throwing it up.

It may be that some types of dirt’s can act as a cleaning agent for the intestines causing more movement in the digestive tract thereby pushing the upsetting material thru their digestive much faster giving them relief from whatever was causing the upset stomach.

Is It Bad for a Dog to Eat Dirt?

While dogs eating dirt isn’t surprising and you can train your dog to not eat dirt, in the next section I will go into detail on how to get your dog to stop eating dirt. If your dog is eating just dirt there’s not much risk unless there doing it all the time.

If there eating other items that contain things that may plug the intestines or if there’s chemicals in the area that their eating the dirt in you need to take preventive measures. You know what’s in your yard so your dog eating some dirt there should be safe, but it’s not a good habit to let them have.

Why Does My Dog Eat Dirt [How to Break Their Habit]

In this section I’m going to look at a few things you can do to prevent your dog from eating dirt. If you’re able to find out why your dog is eating dirt that will be the simplest solution. If you can’t nail down the cause try these tips:

Tips for Stopping Your Dog From Eating Dirt

Number 1] Engaging Your Dog… If may be that your dog is just bored, spend more time with your dog. Introduce some different play toys and try to exercise them every day or a least go for a long walk. Change the routine up a bit, if you have access to a water source you can play fetch and let them swim to get the stick.

Number 2] Their Diet… Begin by trying a different brand of dog food and be sure to read the labels to make sure your food has enough minerals. Change the type of food, if you’ve been feeding your dog dry food try some wet canned food.

Another option is using all natural foods. Some types of dog food may be breed or activity based depending on how old and active your dog is. And if you’re not sure make an appointment with a vet for an exam and they can recommend a good diet.

Number 3] Parasites… Especially worms can use the nutrients your dog gets which can cause stomach and intestinal issues and both of these conditions can be the cause of your dog eating dirt. Look for signs of worms in your dog’s feces as well as they may have a loss of appetite and not be as energetic.

If there are signs of worms give your dog pills for worms, you can buy these at a pet store or if you’re not completely sure your vet can do an exam and give you some deworm pills. Just a note, some dogs can be sensitive to some types of worm pills, if you have a collie or a shepherd you may want to consult your vet first.

Number 4] Supervision… It may be necessary to keep your dog on a leash or under close supervision when outside and if your dog begins to eat dirt discourage your dog using an oral command. You can also praise your dog if they obey the command.

If you are noticing that your dog only goes to a certain spot in the yard and only eats dirt their you can try using some deterrent placed in that area. A few to try are a hot sauce, some hot pepper like cayenne or try some sour apple spay, which you can get from a pet supply store.

Number 5] Water… A great way of letting your dog know when it’s doing something that you don’t approve of. Keep a spray bottle with you when you’re outside or if you’re going for a walk, when your dog begins to eat dirt let out a loud “no” and after a second or two give your dog a short spray to his face.

Be sure that you only use clean cool water, that way you won’t injure your dog only let him know that he shouldn’t be eating dirt. Don’t use this water spray bottle on a dog you don’t know or if your dog is aggressive.

Number 6] Wireless Device… These types of devices are a great way to train your dog to stop eating dirt and can be used for other training as well. They will not associate you as the person using the device.

While some dog owners are against using these types of deterrents many others have had real good results and have gotten a much better behaving dog from using the device. I’m going to recommend the “PATPET Dog Shock Collar with Remote”. It has 7056 user ratings and a 4.5/5 score.

It’s also has a 1000 foot range and is waterproof and can be used on all sizes of dogs and breeds, definitely worth looking into. You can check it out here on Amazon.

Number 7] Restrict the Dog to Indoors… It may be necessary to keep your dog in the house when your away and can’t keep supervising your dog. If you have any plants inside your home remove them so your dog won’t be eating the dirt while you’re away.

Number 8] Talk With a Dog Trainer… If everything you’ve tried has failed maybe it’s time to talk to professional dog trainer. Your vet can recommend an animal trainer who has experience dealing with stubborn dog issues.

You can also do a Google internet search for “dog training” to see if’s there’s anyone nearby who can help. But be prepared to spend several hundred or more on a dog trainer for some personal consolation’s…

Or you can give “Brain Training for Dogs” where Adrienne Farricelli a professional CPDT-KA certified dog trainer reveals the secrets for using your own dog’s natural ability to stop bad behavior and it’s not going to cost you hundreds of your hard earned money. You can get the course and several free training videos! You can learn more here.

How to Stop Puppies From Eating Dirt Inside the House

As you know puppies love to get into everything and that includes all your houseplants and dirt. While the puppy may not be eating the dirt their likely just rubbing their nose into it. Now is the time to break this habit. Here are 4 tips to try:

Tip Number 1] Re-arrange as many of the plants you can from the floor to a higher place that will put them out of reach of your puppy. Larger plants may be difficult to move or to elevate so try and put them where there not going to be in the puppies line of sight.

Tip Number 2] Another good deterrent is using some pinecones or rocks, lay them on top of the dirt, be sure to press them firmly into the soil. This will make it much more difficult for your puppy to get access to the dirt.

Tip Number 3] Spray the rocks and pinecones with some bitter apple dog deterrent spray, you can get this spray from your local pet supply store.

Tip Number 4] You’re going to need to well supervise your puppy and keep saying “no” when they approach the plants until they learn to keep away from them.


Now you know why does my dog eat dirt… Breaking them of this habit can be can be a challenge. Try to follow the tips in this article and you will find that you can break your dog’s bad habit of eating dirt. If you have found this article helpful, give it a share. Thanks for reading.


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