We have acorns in our yard but we don’t have an oak tree, our neighbors do and it sits right on the outside of our property line.
Every fall this oak tree drops thousands of acorns in our yard and over the years, only 2 out 6 of our dogs have been attracted to them.
Most dogs don’t like the taste of acorns because they’re bitter but since dogs are inquisitive by nature, some become very attracted to them.
Since acorns contain high levels of tannin, not only can they be toxic to dogs when eaten in large quantities but they can also cause a dog to choke if they’re swallowed whole and they can sometimes become lodged in the intestines creating an intestinal blockage.
None of these are good things so if you have an acorn eater as I do and you don’t want them to end up in the emergency room, here are a few ways you can help them drop this bad habit.
Since your dog, yard, and your oak tree are different than mine you might need to tailor these steps to fit your needs and area but this will hopefully give you a general guide to follow to get your dog to stop eating those pesky acorns.
(No one said it was going to be easy but it can be done!)
Remove The Acorns
This is the easiest but also the most time-consuming way to separate your dog from the acorns.
I normally let my dogs go outside and do their stuff but I quickly realized that my puppy, who is the acorn addict of the family, would try to find them instead of pottying.
I quickly made the adjustment that before he went outside I would do a sweep of the yard first and remove all the corns that fell on the ground.
Since acorns start falling here around the end of August, this is a three-month project and not always full proof because depending on the weather, acorns could be dropping as we’re out there.
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If you have an acorn eater and you’re not sure if there are acorns laying around for them to eat, you’ll have to supervise them at all times until you can get the acorns removed.
You can do this by keeping your dog on a leash when they go outside (even if you have a fenced yard) or following them closely.
Section Off Your Yard
Have you ever noticed that when acorns fall off an oak tree they can bounce pretty far if they hit the ground just right?
Even though the oak tree that drops acorns in our yard is on the outside of our fence, it still drops acorns into the middle of our backyard!
However, if you have a big yard and you’re able to section off the area where most of the acorns drop, that’s great and ideal.
But if you have a smaller yard and don’t have the space to section it off you can try using a light garden netting to catch the acorns before they hit the ground.
You can also invest in a lawn sweeper which makes it super easy to pick up lawn debris such as acorns, sticks, leaves and grass clippings.
Since our puppy Lou, and our Corgi really like sticks, I might invest in a lawn sweeper this year!
Train Your Dog To Leave Acorns Alone
If removing acorns from your yard isn’t an option you could train your dog to live happily with acorns.
While training will take more time and energy on your part, your dog is definitely worth it and it’s a great bonding experience.
You can train your dog in a positive way in different forms.
Your dog is probably already familiar with some basic commands like sit and stay but they should also know some other dog commands that can keep them out of trouble.
Teach Your Dog To Leave It
The “leave it” command is one of the most important commands a dog should learn.
Not only can it help keep a dog safe from dangers on the ground but it can also be used as a recall if something catches your dog’s eye and they want to bolt.
Here’s an easy way to teach your dog the “leave it command”:
- Start with a high value and place it in your hand or on the ground if you’re able to.
- Let your dog sniff it but don’t let them have it.
- Tell them to “leave it”.
- Repeat the command until they get bored and stop trying to grab the treat.
- The moment they stop, mark it with a word such as “YES” or use a clicker
- Now let them have the treat by using another word such as, “OK” or a phrase such as “you can have it”.
- Repeat but don’t overdo it. Try maybe 5 times and then revisit later on.
You’re not done yet, once your dog learns the “leave it command” with a treat should move onto something else like one of their favorite toys.
When you’re confident they have this command down, you can try it with the acorns.
Teach Them To Drop It
“Drop it” is another powerful command that every dog should know.
There are a variety of ways you can teach this command.
Check out the American Kennel Club’s guide here.
Teach Your Dog To Trade
Another way to keep your dog from ingesting acorns is to teach them to trade the acorn for something of more value.
Let’s face it, acorns are bitter and they should taste nasty is most dogs so offer them a trade of one of their favorite treats.
Make sure to keep a stash of treats by the door or in your pocket and when you see them searching for acorns, call them back for a treat.
It’s important that you try to catch your dog before they get the acorn in their mouth because you don’t want them to think that they are doing something good by picking up an acorn.
On the flip side, if your dog is outside not interested in the acorns, toss them a treat too!
If you have a dog that isn’t treat motivated, you can try using one of their toys too.
Same process just a different incentive.
If all else fails you can reach out to a professional dog trainer to offer some help and guidance.
If you suspect that your dog has PICA or if your dog has a condition such as IBD and you can’t take any chances that they might eat an acorn, you can try a basket muzzle.
Basket muzzles are a great option for dogs that need extra protection to keep them safe and when used properly, can be a great tool.
And don’t forget, it’s said that oak trees can produce up to 10,000 acorns a season depending on the type and size of the tree!