Mushroom fixation - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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  • 2 Post By Sabis mom
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2019, 01:35 PM Thread Starter
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Mushroom fixation

I'm having a (dangerous, I think) issue with Codex--7 months old.

Since I got him at 8 weeks we've worked on leave it (lass) and more recently drop it (aus). In a controlled environment he does great. I can put an open top kitchen trash can filled to the brim, brooms, shoes, everything he likes to play with but shouldn't, tell him lass, and he won't even look at it. He gets it so well it is hard to even do to many repetitions when training as he is doing leave it before I ask.

Outside, however, I'm having trouble upping the distraction level and completing successful training exercises. In the spring, it was deer poop. I'd have hot dog cut up as rewards, find some deer poop, let him discover it, say lass and ... he ignores me and tries to eat the poop. I can wave hot dog in front of his nose but it makes no difference. Fresh deer poop is much higher value than any meat or treat.

With deer poops it was just annoying. This summer has been crazy rainy in Colorado and there are hundreds of mushrooms growing under the pine needle duff. Codex has taken them to rooting them out like a pig after truffles and eating them. Again, the good lass/aus training inside goes out the window when it is a tasty mushroom. My assumption is that mushrooms can be as dangerous to dogs as they are to humans. This morning he ate parts of a few as I tried and failed to stop him. A half and hour later he puked up breakfast plus mushroom pieces in his crate. I'm very worried he is going to eat one that will do serious harm before he can puke it up in defense.

I'm looking for tips on how to train a reliable leave it / drop it when he considers the item he has more valuable than meat / cheese / anything else. As a secondary question, seeking out and eating mushrooms seems like an anti-Darwin activity. I can only assume wolves don't eat poisonous mushrooms in the wild?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2019, 02:28 PM
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I don't have much on reliable leave it, but you might want to call your vet just in case since he vomited. I googled "can dogs eat mushrooms" and there are articles, American Kennel Club", etc, about them eating poisonous ones, they don't really have a natural instinct not to eat them. I'd call the vet and see what they say at least.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2019, 03:29 PM
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Put him on leash in areas like that.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2019, 04:45 PM
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If there seems to be only 1 or two varieties in your yard, I would try to have them identified to see if they are poisonous. If they are, I would try to eradicate or fence off the area if possible and incorporate a stiff correction for non compliance of the “lass”. Especially since the command has already been proofed in other scenarios and understands it.

If that isn’t something you want to incorporate, then I wouldn’t issue that command when she is “mushroom foraging” as it will weaken the value of it.

"If you can't see his soul when you look in his eyes, then you need a seeing-eye dog"
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2019, 05:28 PM
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That is potentially very dangerous and I wouldn't wait to work on it. I agree with @wolfy dog; I'd keep him leashed until you can install a good 'Leave It! command and probably for a few months afterwards too. At 7 months, he's not too young to learn it, though he won't be reliable for a bit. There's a really good video on youtube showing how to train this. If I can find it, I'll come back and edit in the link. My suggestion would be to immediately start training 'Leave It' inside and then, gradually, move the training sessions outside (still on a lead). You have to train the command first so that you can correct the behavior (e.g., leash pop). Luring with a formerly prized treat isn't working, so you've got to build a base (install the command) so that the correction is meaningful to him ("Oops, I wuz supposed to stop doing that").
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2019, 06:16 PM
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I wouldn't even hesitate. I would set him up and then give him a correction he will never forget.

This is one of those harmful or fatal things. It cannot be left unanswered. Your dog could be at risk of ingesting something that will kill him. And even if the mushrooms in your area aren't fatal, what if you travel? Someone I know very well lost a dog to a very small mushroom that they did not even see her eat. It was an agonizing death and no one was aware of toxic mushrooms growing in that area.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2019, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies all. I am indeed freaking out over it so don't worry. I am taking it very seriously.

That said, the mushrooms are in my backyard and it is 3.5 acres of pine forest. I eventually need a long term solution as I need to be able to train, play, and exercise him offleash eventually.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2019, 06:50 PM
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Get them identified by your local mushroom hunters -- I have neighbors that do that sort of thing and have been studying mushrooms for 30 years. Ask around -- there's almost certainly someone nearby who knows and will want to see what you've got. The reason you'll get free help easily is that your pup may be eating its weight in gold. This has been a magnificent year for Morel mushrooms in Colorado. If you have them on your property, they're very valuable (maybe $50/lb fresh...3x that dried)...and delicious....and those mushroom hunters will gladly rid you of the "problem." The Colo. Mycological Society (in Denver) might be able to help too.

Here's a chart that's a starting place -- but I'd always recommend having someone who really knows these things double check your best guess:
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Last edited by Magwart; 07-23-2019 at 06:54 PM.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 07-23-2019, 07:08 PM
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Yeah, get them identified by someone who LEGITIMATELY knows their ID.

It has been a banner year for morels and oysters, but there are also false morels and many mimics that are completely different (and in some cases very dangerous).

I’d issue a whopper of a correction for attempts at eating raw mushrooms if your “leave it” is being ignored.... I take my dogs with me when I’m hunting for them, which is fun for all, but they’re banned from browsing. Not a nagging correction, a serious correction. As you’d treat interest in snakes/etc.
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