The correct term for a dog eating poop is coprophagia. Sounds more scientific, yes, but any less disgusting? No! Regardless, this is actually a natural behavior for some animal species. Learning how to stop a dog from eating poop begins with knowing why dogs eat poop to begin with.
Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?
People have a hard time understanding the reasons why dogs eat poop, whether it’s their own, or poop from other dogs, cats, or rabbits. This is usually most prevalent in puppies, and certain breeds are prone to eating poop as well. But from a person’s point of view, it’s just disgusting!
There are many theories about why dogs eat poop, the simplest being that the dog is just hungry. Make sure you dog isn’t underweight and that he’s getting enough to eat. Another theory is that they may have a vitamin deficiency, and the dog is trying to compensate by eating poop. Or perhaps the dog is suffering from malnutrition, starvation, or a parasite infestation. These are possibilities, but these causes are actually rare.
Puppies will sometimes eat their poop during house training because some foolish pet owner thought they should rub the puppy’s nose in it. This not only encourages the puppy to eat poop but can also make the puppy decide he better get rid of it (eat it) before their owner sees it. Also, food is not always completely digested by puppies so they can actually see nutritional value in their poop. (Has your dog ever eaten corn, then it shows up in their poop in the back yard? Lovely…)
Making sure your dog is in good health is the first and most important thing to do when facing this problem. Dogs can develop illnesses that can result in eating poop. In addition to that, here are several more tips to help you stop your dog from eating poop.
1. Have your checked by a veterinarian for parasites. Your dog may lack essential bacteria in his digestive system. And parasites are dangerous – they can compromise your dog’s immune system and put him at risk for serious illnesses.
2. Give your dog a daily multi-vitamin or stool eating deterrent. These can help ensure that your dog isn’t eating poop because they’re suffering from a vitamin deficiency. You can purchase inexpensive, chewable multi-vitamins for your dog here.
I had a miniature Dachshund several years ago who began eating rocks in the driveway. The vet suggested she had a vitamin deficiency and suggested a daily multivitamin. It worked…she stopped eating rocks.
3. Keep your yard and home clean. Wash your dog’s bedding on a regular basis, as well as their food and water dishes. I cannot express enough how important it is for you to keep your yard and home clean. Once your dog is housebroken, the chances of him eating poop inside the house are slim. However, he’s likely to start making messes in the house again if he smells old poop or pee odors in the house. You can use an inexpensive product called Nature’s Miracle to get rid of old pet urine and feces odors. You can purchase it here.
4. Distract your dog when he attempts to eat poop. When your dog is done pooping, lead them away from the area immediately. Same if you see them approaching another animal’s poop. As soon as they leave the area, give them praise.
5. Clean up the poop! Buy a pooper-scooper to clean up the poop after you’ve called the dog away from the area. Make a point of walking around the yard every day to clean up any poop. You can purchase an inexpensive pooper scooper here. Or, you can use poop bags which you can find here.
6. Clean your dog’s teeth! If your dog has been eating poop, then his breath is probably beyond gross, and his teeth are likely filthy. Here’s an article from PetMd on The Best Way To Clean a Dog’s Teeth.
How to Prevent Your Dog from Eating Poop
A dog eating poop can be frustrating. Consistent cleanliness and maintenance should prevent and stop your dog from eating poop, along with making sure they are in good health, don’t have parasites, and are not suffering from vitamin deficiencies. Don’t fret about this – it’s relatively common. It’s also preventable and treatable.
If you’ve tried all these tips and still need help, I can suggest the dog training website, The Online Dog Trainer. They have more than 300 step-by-step dog training videos where you get to watch Professional Dog Trainer and Behavioral Specialist, Doggy Dan, train dogs on all sorts of behavior issues. They offer a three-day trial for $1. You can read my full review of The Online Dog Trainer here.
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