How to Stop Dog From Eating Poop!

how-to-stop-a-dog-from-eating-poopIf you are wondering how to stop your dog from eating poop, don’t worry you are not alone! There are plenty of poop-eating dogs out there. Why would a dog resort to eating poop when we provide them perfectly good daily meals you ask? I know, to us humans it’s a disgusting and repulsive act, but to a dog it’s, eh, whatever.

When we smell something vile such as feces we naturally distance ourselves from it. Then again, we also possess a natural defense mechanism that steers us away from things that are unhealthy for us. However, from a dog’s perspective such a smell isn’t thought of as offensive at all, nor is it necessarily unhealthy for a dog to eat poop…at least not in most cases.

Poop eating, also known as canine coprophagia, is for the most part harmless. In small instances, if they’re eating poop other than their own, it can cause parasites. Generally, this problem would occur when eating the feces of another dog or cat, but is not an issue when eating the feces of herbivore animals, such as rabbits, horses, cows or goats. In addition, eating feces can be harmful if it contains the presence of bacteria or viruses.

Theories on Why Dogs Eat Poop

There is no definitive answer as to why dogs eat poop, however, there are several theories as suggested below:

  1. There are many hard-wired behaviors that dogs have retained from their wild ancestors, and this may be yet another one of those behaviors. Wild dogs would eat the poop occasionally dropped in their dens in order to protect other pack members from intestinal parasites present in the feces. Eating the feces was a quick way to eliminate the poop from the area prior to infective larvae hatching.
  1. An attempt to clean up. It is a necessary, and natural, behavior for mother dogs to eat the feces of their puppies in order to keep the area clean. Back in the days when dogs were wild, keeping poop clean from the den meant hiding the scent of the pups from predators. This behavior continues in domesticated dogs, but should fade after the puppies are weaned from her milk. However, on occasion some dogs may continue the behavior.

In addition, puppies learn the behavior from their mothers, and although the behavior should fade as the puppy matures, on occasion it may not. Such might be the case if the puppy’s human caregiver in the beginning of its life did not clean up after it, thereby giving the puppy the opportunity to continue eating it. In this case, since the behavior was never discouraged, it has cause to persist.

A dog may also attempt clean up duty if its yard has heaps of feces that have not been cleaned up. For this reason it’s very important to be sure poop is consistently scooped.

  1. Boredom – Hey, anyone want to play with some poop today…tastes great! 🙂
  1. A learned behavior from another dog.
  1. They simply like the way it tastes. Particularly if they have a low quality, bland dog food diet, where the poop may not taste any different than what they eat fresh out of their bowl.
  1. Malnourishment. Dogs who lack the fundamental nutrients for a healthy diet, or who are unable to digest the nutrients in their current diet may, in turn, attempt to eat the partially undigested food from feces.
  1. Medical condition. Some dogs will begin eating feces when health issues are present such as gastrointestinal disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, pancreas disorders or parasites.
  1. Anxiety or stress.
  1. Attention. If a dog receives an abundance of human attention when eating feces (even negative attention) a dog may have the desire to continue the behavior in order to continue receiving the attention. In contrast, if a dog has been severely punished for eating feces, he may eat it in attempt to get rid of the evidence and avoid the negative attention/punishment.

Even if a dog at one time or another fell into one of these categories, but it no longer applies, it’s possible that the behavior may persist due to pure habit.

How to stop dog from eating poopHow Can I Stop My Dog From Eating Poop?

Since eating poop can be habit forming, if you truly want to put an end to it, and I’m betting there’s not a single owner of a poop-eating dog who doesn’t, it’s best to address it as soon as possible. If allowed to become a long-term habit it will be much harder to break.

Although only a small number of feces eating cases are the result of a medical issue, you may want to speak to a veterinarian to be sure you can rule out the possibility.

Speaking with a veterinarian can also help you to determine if eating feces is due to certain nutrients missing in your dog’s diet. Researchers have suggested that dogs that eat the feces of herbivore animals, such as rabbits, horses, cows and goats, may do so to replenish their vitamin B supply. Other nutrients have also been pinpointed. When dogs are eating poop due to an enzyme deficiency, or intestinal malabsorption, it is usually suggested to add digestive enzymes and probiotics to your dog’s food.

There are many products sold on the market that can be added to your dog’s food that result in producing terrible tasting feces. One of the most common is a product called For-Bid. As an alternative you can also use a meat tenderizer (the dose is 1/4 teaspoon per 10 lbs. of body weight). The assumption is that your dog will give up on the habit since the feces no longer has a desirable taste, however, outcomes are not always successful.

Some people have hopes of deterring the habit by adding cayenne pepper or tabasco sauce to the feces itself (not your dog’s food) to make it taste terrible. The point here is to relate poop-eating to a bad experience so that they won’t want to do it again. At any rate, it is not always successful either as some dogs have the innate ability to acquire a taste for just about anything!

The Absolute BEST Way to Get Your Dog to Stop Eating Poop

The very best thing you can do is to not provide your dog any opportunities to eat stool. Be sure to ALWAYS clean up immediately after your dog, leave nothing behind!

I know at times it’s easier said than done…1) you’re in a hurry with no time to clean up after your dog, 2) you’ve missed a stool or two but Fido has no problem finding it, or 3) you’re peacefully walking your dog when suddenly you realize he’s chowing down on a piece of delectable gung he scented out. But, by all means, try your best to avoid the opportunity.

If it is cat poop that your dog is eating, be sure to place the litter box in an area that your dog does not have access to, or get a self-cleaning litter box.

Since it has been proven that a bored dog is more likely to acquire bad habits, be sure your dog is mentally and physically stimulated. Ensuring your dog gets an adequate amount of exercise, and has access to toys he enjoys playing with is two of the best methods for preventing boredom. Interactive dog toys, such as a stuffed Kong are also great ideas.

Never yell, punish, or get over-excited if you catch your dog eating poop. The attention received, whether negative or positive, won’t resolve the issue and can end up causing more harm than good.

Teach your dog the commands “leave it” and “come”. These are key commands that your dog must know in order for behavioral intervention methods to be successful. Always be sure to praise your dog when he obeys the commands. Offering a treat (one that he loves even more than poop) can entice your dog to “leave” the poop alone since he will learn that something even better will be available to him when he “comes”.

Do you know a dog that eats poop? Leave your story in the comments section and let others know if you have any tips or strategies!




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