Is your doggie decorating the house with bits of toilet paper and maybe even eating half the roll in the process? Some dogs have a fascination for unrolling and tearing toilet paper to shreds, but if he's going as far as eating the paper, you could have a real problem on your hands. Believe it or not, that TP treat can end with a trip to the emergency room! Here's what to do to get this tissue issue under control.
Get to the Root Cause
First, figure out the cause of the behavior. Puppies eat toilet paper for a number of reasons. Because toilet paper is normally easy to get to, not to mention fun to unroll, it could just be a question of your pup going for the "toy" or "snack" that's most accessible and engaging. A rarer reason, though it shouldn't be ruled out (especially if the TP is finding it's way into his stomach), is that your dog could also suffer from pica -- a condition that makes dogs (and people) eat non-food materials such as paper and chalk, primarily due to nutritional deficiencies. Think Fido might be suffering from pica? Have your vet check it out and see if he has any dietary deficiencies that might be causing the paper eating.
Out of Sight, Out of Stomach
The next logical step is to make sure that the toilet paper is less accessible to your pooch. Hide all extra toilet paper rolls and either close the bathroom door or take the roll out of the toilet paper dispenser. Thankfully, many puppies grow out of their paper-eating phase after a while so you won't have to go without toilet paper in your dispenser for the long term. In the meantime, you have little choice but to keep the paper away from him. It's also a good idea to put paper towels and facial tissue paper away -- just in case your pooch decides to give another type of paper a try once you take away the toilet paper.
Take any paper that he gets hold of away from him quietly. The Dog Channel recommends not making a huge fuss, which could just encourage the behavior for attention-seeking purposes. It might also, in some cases, just encourage a dog to be more secretive about his habit. Some pet owners report that their animals will wait until a room is empty before doing something they are not supposed to do, especially food-related naughtiness such as eating the family roast or, in this case, eating the family's toilet paper.
Go Toy Shopping
Now check Fido's toy chest. Does he need a few more? He might be unrolling and eating paper to ease his boredom or as a way to challenge his brain. Maybe he's both hungry and bored? Get him a puzzle toy that dispenses treats or a Kong filled with peanut butter. This will keep him busy and entertained as well as serve as a snack to keep hunger at bay until his next meal.
Keep Your Cool
Always resist the temptation to yell, scream or cause a commotion. Puppies crave attention, both good and bad. If you ignore him most of the day and he only gets direct interaction when he's eating toilet paper, what do you think he'll be wanting to do every single day? If you catch him in the act, firmly say "no" once, then remove him from the bathroom and close the door. No long talks or drawn-out scoldings!
About the Author
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.