You may be lucky enough to own a dog that would not even contemplate eating it’s own poop or the faeces of other animals but what happens when this is normal behaviour for your four legged friend. Eating poop has to be the worst habit and if you are unfortunate enough to witness your dog doing this you are not alone.
According to researchers 1 in 6 dogs are classified as serious poop eaters. Scientists have a name for this habit:- coprophagia (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh). There are several reasons why your dog may have taken to this anti-social behaviour:-
Mother dogs will lick their puppies genital area to encourage them to poop on their own. This is perfectly natural and will continue for the first 3 weeks of a puppy’s life. Some puppies may eat poop because they are learning what tastes good. Puppies are like babies who put anything and everything in their mouths. There is not a lot you can do about this because it is normal behaviour at this time in their lives.
Some poop (particularly from other animals) may contain undigested food which smells and possibly tastes very appealing to your dog.
If your dog or puppy is feeling bored or anxious they may use eating poop as a calming exercise. Puppies in particular like to feel something in their mouths.
Your dog may have a medical issue such as intestinal problems or not being able to absorb nutrients from their everyday food. If this is the case you may want to take your dog to the vet to rule out any problems.
Here are some tips to eliminate this poop eating behaviour:
If your dog generally eats their own poop you may want to try the following:-
Make sure when out walking that your dog is on a lead when it is time to poop. Clean up the poop straight away and try to do this when your dog isn’t watching. Teach the commands to sit and stay and reward good behaviour. You may also want to increase the amount of fibre in their diet and even consider feeding your dog little and often if they appear to be having some digestive issues.
Your dog may enjoy eating the poop from other animals and if this is the case start by teaching them the leave it command. Whilst out walking always look at the ground ahead in case something has been left behind by another dog. If you have other dogs in the house, clean up poop as often as possible. Keep your dog active with food dispensing toys. Look at diets which can help to eliminate stomach issues.
Some dogs may like to eat the poop out of your cat’s litter tray. A solution would be to perhaps look at keeping the litter tray off the ground or in a cardboard box (with a bit cut out for your cat to squeeze through) but where your dog can't reach it. Some people keep litter trays in bath tubs as it makes it harder for little dogs to jump up to.
Experts agree that your dog might be lacking something in their diet so that’s where vitamin supplementation can be of benefit. It is worth consulting your vet for their expert advice.
Above all else be persistent with ongoing training for your dog. Be patient, never punish and certainly do not give up.