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I have a four-year-old Cockapoo who is constantly swallowing things that he shouldn’t. I’ve had to go through the stress and expense of taking him to the emergency vet four times now to make him vomit. Is there anything I can do to train him not to do this?

Paul Manktelow advises…

I’ve worked in veterinary emergencies for most of my career, so I’m no stranger to these naughty dogs. I’ve seen them eat everything from human medication to chocolate cakes and even underwear! These vet trips can be stressful and expensive, but it seems that some dogs never learn and I have seen many repeat offenders returning for emergency treatment time and time again.

While owner vigilance is incredibly important, it’s very difficult to be completely aware of everything in your dog’s path 100 per cent of the time. However, you should always make sure that your family and any visitors to your home are aware of the common things that your dog ingests and make sure they are always out of harm’s way.

I recommend that you explore the reasons why your dog is exhibiting this behaviour in the first place, as this can help you to understand how you can go about trying to change it. Some dogs are opportunistic scavengers and are always on the look-out for food and treats, and in these situations extra vigilance is always a good thing. Other dogs are simply bored and want to pick up, explore and chew everything that they can get their mouths around. For the latter group, regular exercise and mental stimulation is enough to occupy their bodies and minds, and you could consider a variety of toys and chews to divert their oral attention elsewhere.

If you’re really struggling, I’d recommend that you work with a good behaviourist or trainer, who can help you identify the problem while working up a practical solution.

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