Why Your Golden Retriever Eats Grass (And How To Stop It)


If you often catch your Golden Retriever eating grass then it’s probably quite concerning. You’ll probably also want to know why and what to do about it.

This post will show you a number of reasons why your Golden Retriever might eat grass and will show you some things that you can do as well.

So, why does your Golden Retriever eat grass? Eating grass is common amongst all dog breeds and isn’t something to be concerned with by itself. Possible causes include boredom, an upset stomach, to improve digestion, being an inherited trait and simply liking how it tastes.

And how can you stop your Golden Retriever from eating grass? The only way to completely get it to stop would be to stop it from having access to grass but this isn’t advised. Instead, you can reduce its interest in eating grass by feeding it more fiber (most dog foods have enough already), giving it lots of exercise, giving it other things to chew on and training it to come to you when you call it.

The cause of why dogs might eat grass is something that gets debated but there are a number of proposed reasons why your Golden Retriever might be doing it.

Why Golden Retrievers might eat grass

There are many possible reasons that your Golden Retriever might eat grass and I’ll mention a number of the proposed reasons below.

Boredom

Golden Retrievers were bred to work with humans on a daily basis doing intensive tasks. This means that they need a lot of exercise to be properly stimulated.

If your Golden Retriever doesn’t get enough exercise then it could be getting bored. If that is the case then it might start to look for ways to stimulate itself and one of those ways could involve eating grass.

If you think that your Golden Retriever might not be getting enough exercise then you should make sure that it does. You can look in the section below to see some ways that you can do so.

Nutrition

Some think that the reason Golden Retrievers (and other dogs) eat grass could be to improve digestion due to the high fiber content in grass or to fulfill some other nutritional deficiency.

It likes how it tastes

It could just be that your Golden Retriever likes the taste of grass. It could be that it wants to chew on something and grass is readily available to it and it’s not usually poisonous so it chooses to chew on that. This will be particularly pronounced if your Golden Retriever is in the teething phase.

To make itself throw up

It’s not uncommon for Golden Retrievers (and other dogs) to throw up after eating grass. This leads some people to think that they eat grass due to having a stomach upset that they want to alleviate by throwing up.

However, some people disagree with this arguing that dogs aren’t smart enough to do that and that most dogs don’t actually throw up when they eat grass.

It’s an inherited trait

One likely cause that your Golden Retriever eats grass is that grass was something that was readily available to dogs before they were domesticated by humans. So, they would get some of their nutrition by eating grass and this is an inherited trait that present-day dogs have.

How To Reduce How Much Your Golden Retriever Eats Grass

There are a number of things that you can do to reduce how much your Golden Retriever eats grass. Below I will mention a number of them.

Exercise

By giving your Golden Retriever lots of exercise you will be able to wear it out and reduce its curiosity in the taste of grass. You’ll also be able to keep your Golden Retriever healthy and to reduce other unwanted behaviors such as destruction or attention seeking.

There are a number of ways to exercise your Golden Retriever.

  • Walk it

Walking your Golden Retriever is probably the most obvious way to give it exercise. However, you might find that it’s not enough for your Golden Retriever so you might need to find ways to make it more challenging. You can do so by walking your Golden Retriever further, walking faster, walking in a hilly area, or you could make it wear a dog weight vest with no more than 10% of your dogs body weight.

You could also walk it with other dogs since it will wear itself out more by playing with the other dogs.

  • Play fetch with it

Teaching your Golden Retriever to play fetch is a good way to give it a lot of exercise. It will wear your Golden Retriever out quickly since it will have your Golden Retriever doing a lot of sprinting without much rest in between. I have written about how to teach it to your Golden Retriever in the past here.

  • Teach it to swim

Teaching your Golden Retriever to swim would be another good way to give it a lot of exercise. When dogs swim they need to move their legs around a lot which can wear them out quickly. It will also help to keep it cool in the summer.

  • Have a dog walker do it for you

When you haven’t got the time to walk your Golden Retriever yourself you could get a dog walker to do it for you. There are apps that you can download now that let you book a local dog walker directly through the app easily.

Diet in high fiber

Since some people think that dogs might eat grass to get more fiber you could try giving it foods that are higher in fiber. Most dog foods will have a decent amount of fiber but you can see what other fiber foods you can feed your Golden Retriever here.

Give it other things to chew on

Another option you have is to divert its attention away from chewing on grass. You can do this by giving your Golden Retriever lots of toys that it can chew on. This will be especially helpful if your Golden Retriever is in the teething phase where it naturally will want to chew on things.

Train it to come to you

In order to reduce how much grass your Golden Retriever is able to eat you will need it to stop eating grass when you tell it to. This means that if you haven’t trained it to come to you when you tell it to then you should.

To do this do as follows:

  1. Get some treats that your Golden Retriever likes and a long lead if you have one
  2. Tell it to sit then reward it with a treat. If you haven’t taught your Golden Retriever to sit yet then you’ll want to do that first.
  3. Then say “Stay” then reward your Golden Retriever if it pays attention to you for a small time period like one second.
  4. Then repeat the process each time getting your Golden Retriever to keep its attention a little longer.
  5. Then you tell it to stay and walk a few steps back then if it stays you walk back and reward your Golden Retriever.
  6. Continue to do that each time walking back a bit further and, when your Golden Retriever gets good, wait for a few seconds before walking back to it.
  7. Now, you’ll say “stay” go back a few steps and then say “come” and reward your Golden Retriever for coming to you
  8. Repeat doing that until you’re able to go far away

Watch the video below to see how it is done.

Visit the vet

If your Golden Retriever is being sick regularly when it’s eating grass then you should consider taking it to the vet to make sure nothing is wrong. This behavior isn’t that uncommon so it’s not something to be overly concerned about if it is an otherwise healthy dog but it is worthwhile to double check with a vet.

Things to consider

If you’re worried about why your Golden Retriever is eating grass or if you want to make it stop then there are some things that you should keep in mind.

Risks of eating grass

Eating grass generally isn’t considered harmful but if the grass has pesticides then it could be. Be sure that your Golden Retriever doesn’t have access to any grass that has been sprayed with pesticides or poisonous plants.

Sickness

It’s not uncommon for Golden Retrievers to be sick after eating grass. As long as it goes back to normal then it should be ok. But, if you’re concerned you should take it to a vet.

It’s not unusual

Eating grass is something that has been observed by owners of all dog breeds and is seen in non-domesticated dogs. So, just because your Golden Retriever eats grass sometimes doesn’t mean that something is terribly wrong with it.

Physical punishment doesn’t work

Some owners resort to hitting their Golden Retriever when it eats grass. You should avoid physically punishing your Golden Retriever for eating grass it doesn’t work. It will likely think that you’re punishing it for the last thing that it did which was coming to you and it can cause behavioral problems.

You can try saying no and teaching your Golden Retriever to come to you when you call it instead.

Related Questions

Why does my Golden Retriever eat dirt? There are a number of reasons that this could possibly be the case. Possible reasons include looking for nutrients that it isn’t getting in its diet, health conditions, it likes the taste,  stress or boredom, and trying to soothe an upset stomach. If it’s something that is concerning you then take it to a vet.

Why does my Golden Retriever eat stones? The possible reasons for this are the same as above. If it’s something that is frequently occurring or it’s concerning you take it to a vet.

If you would like learn everything that you need to know about how to have a happy, healthy and well-behaved Golden Retriever, take a look at this Golden Retriever ebook.

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