With Time, Practice and Consistency, Your Pup’s Poop Eating can be a Disgusting Habit of the Past!
It turns out the biggest problem with a dog eating poop is the ick factor for us, their humans. Dogs, especially puppies, eat many things they shouldn’t, and this often includes feces — theirs and that of other dogs and even other animals. Gross as it may seem, dogs eating poop is pretty common.
The scientific term for poop eating is “coprophagia” (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh). It is surprisingly common! A study out of UC Davis studied 3,000 dogs and found that 16% of them were “severe” poop eaters, meaning they did it six or more times, while 24% of those dogs ate it once.
Dogs evolved from scavengers and had to eat whatever was available to them. The behavior stems from basic survival instincts, so it is literally built into dog DNA to not be disgusted by their own poop!
There is a variety of reasons your pup may eat poop: parasites, nutrient deficiencies, conditions that cause an increase in appetite like Diabetes or Cushing’s Disease, medication, anxiety, copying another dog they saw do it, eating close to where they potty, being isolated in a small space, or boredom.
There are quite a few simple strategies to curb the poop eating. Recommended options are vitamin supplements to correct any nutrient deficiencies, enzyme supplements to aid in digestion, and taste aversion supplements to make it taste bad. If you have multiple dogs, remember to treat them all with the taste aversion supplements!
Training your dog and working on managing the behavior will also help your poop eater! The first step is to make sure you always clean up after them right away so they do not have the option to eat it. Supervision is key- you can’t stop your dog from eating poop if you’re not there when they go!
Teach your dog a consistent “Leave it” cue and reward heavily when your dog leaves the poop alone. A “Drop It” cue will also be vital if you’re a little late and it’s already in your dog’s mouth. A reliable recall is also key here: if you see your dog heading towards a poop pile, call them back to you. This also works well if you have a fenced in area where they potty — call them to come to you consistently every time they’re done pottying and reward with a special treat so they get in the habit of returning to you right when they’re finished. Be sure to make it worthwhile for your dog to leave it, drop it, or come to you. Offer a special treat– even tastier than the poop! With time, practice and consistency, your pup’s poop eating can be a disgusting habit of the past!
If you continue to have trouble stopping your dog’s poop-eating, work with a certified trainer to work through other ways to solve the problem.