Does your dog embarrass you by eating their own, other dogs or cats poop? Imagine, you are talking to an acquaintance in a park, someone you would like to become your friend, you are happily talking to your new found friend and then your dog does the unspeakable. Not only does he squat and “do his business” in front of you and your new friend but then sniffs it and begins to eat it. Unless you have been there, it’s hard to imagine the feeling – or maybe you can. There are reasons for this behavior and ways to stop your dog from eating poop!
Believe it or not this is quite a common problem that many dog owners face. This article was prompted by a question from Debbie on my article about Dog Separation Anxiety. The term used for dogs eating theirs or others poop is Coprophagia.
Today we explore the following topics;
Then we have a look at ways to stop your dog from eating their own or other animal poop with the following;
- Adding to the diet.
- Health and maintenance of the diet.
- Clean living environment.
- Dog Training devices.
- General dog training.
There are a few different theories why dogs eat their own poop however the reasons can be broken into to two categories.
- Behavioral Problem.
- Medical Problem.
If your dog has been sick and started eating their poop since then a visit to your favorite veterinarian is a must. There may be an underlying medical problem left from the illness that is causing your dog to behave in this way. Your veterinarian will be familiar with the medical reasons for this behavior and will be able to offer treatment or advice as well as give you dog a thorough health check up.
Ensure that if your dog has just started this behavior to keep their vaccinations up to date. Many diseases and parasites are spread through excrement and your dog could be exposed to serious illnesses.
Reasons and Causes Why Dogs Eat Poop.
Here are the main reasons why dogs behave in this way:-
- Some dogs find the taste appealing. (ewww)
- High fat – low fibre diet. Dog diets high in fat and low fibre are digested too quickly and the dog might try to digest it again to gain the necessary nutrients they need for health.
- A symptom of Dog Separation Anxiety or boredom.
- Some puppies experience vitamin or mineral deficiencies and eating their poop restores the delicate balance in their intestinal system.
- Bitches of young pups will clean the pups as needed to keep the area clean and puppies may copy this behavior.
- Puppies may “hide the evidence” by eating it if they have been punished for leaving little surprises around the home. Puppies don’t understand what they are being punished for and will think that they are being punished for actually pooping rather than going in the wrong place.
- Maybe your dog is trying to clean their living area – either inside or in the yard. If you suspect that this is the reason then you need to clean the area daily.
- Copying other dogs behavior.
- Over feeding -if your dog is getting too much to eat it is likely that he/she won’t be able to digest the food properly and the partially digested food is eaten again.
- Under feeding. Some dog owners only feed their dogs once a day leaving the dog hungry and they will go into scavenger mode and eat anything around. It is best to feed your dog twice a day.
- Medications or antibiotics. Some dogs develop poop eating behavior when they are being treated for other aliments.
- Some dogs may eat the feces of a companion dog who is sick. This type of behavior is an effort protect the companion dog from predators.
- Change in diet. Radically changing a dogs normal diet can cause dog coprophagia. This is most common when the diet is higher in fat. (see point 2)
Adding to the diet.
Add a little pineapple, spinach or pumpkin to your dogs meals. Apparently when these foods are digested they smell and taste terrible to dogs. There are also specific additives that are designed to make the poop smell bad so your dog is not tempted to eat it. These products are available through your local veterinarian.
Health Maintenance and Diet.
Clean Living Environment.
Dog Training Devices.
Negative reinforcement by the use of a choker collar can be helpful if other methods fail. In worst case scenario you could use a well fitting muzzle and only remove it for meal times, however this is an extreme measure and may not curb the behavior but only disable your dog from doing it. On the other hand, this could be a practical solution in the short term so you can take your dog out in public with out fear of them eating theirs or another dogs poop.
General Dog Training.
By leaning good dog training methods and techniques for effective command training you can train your dog to respond to commands like “leave it” or “no” or “off”. Using positive reinforcement and praising your dog for good behavior can work well also.
Most dogs grow out of wanting to eat poop by the time they hit twelve months old, however this is usually to long to wait for most dog owners to wait.
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