How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop

My dog is eating poop! The horror of this discovery turns your stomach. It’s not right, it’s not natural, and something is wrong, but scolding and punishing your dog for a behavior that is not his or her fault is not right. So, how do I stop my dog from eating poop? Relax, become informed and correct the problem.

In this article we’re going to help you to understand the causes that tend to make dogs eat poop. Once you have determined the cause, then you will be able to execute a plan of action to help eliminate the behavior. Before going into the causes and means of correcting them, let’s define the behavior.

Dogs Eating Feces

The medical term for the behavior is coprophagia. There are three types of coprophagia. They include:

• Autocoprophagia, which occurs when a dog eats its own feces.

• Intraspecific (within the species) coprophagia, which is eating feces of any and all dogs.

• Interspecific (outside the species) coprophagia, which includes eating the feces of other animals like deer, rabbits, horses, cows, etc.

Among the three types, interspecific coprophagia is the most common. Though the specific cause is not fully understood, there are a number of theories which seem to point to why dogs take up this behavior.

Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

There are at least eight common theories for why dogs eat poop. In an attempt to determine how to stop the behavior, it is important to know what could be causing it. Although it might be nice that your have less poop to pick up, there could be something wrong with your dog. Consider each of the theories and see if they fit your dog’s condition(s).

Maternal Behavior

It is maternal instinct for mothers to stimulate the sphincter and clean up the feces as they are produced in new born puppies. This behavior continues for several weeks until the puppies are able to perform this function on their own. Mothers consume the feces and urine in order to keep the nest clean and avoid the stench that might attract other predators.

Dog mother with pups

Nutritional Deficiency

If your dog is not a mother tending to her puppies, then the first consideration as to why your dog is eating poop has to do with nutritional deficiencies. When dogs eat the feces of other dogs or other animals, they are probably missing some nutrient that might be present in the feces of other animals.

Allelomimetic Behavior

This behavior stems from two sources, the first is a learned behavior from their time in the nest. They watched their mother eat the poop, so they do the same for themselves and their siblings. A dog can also learn to do this behavior from watching their owner clean up their area as well.

Medical Problems

Another common cause for coprophagia has to do with medical issues. The behavior tends to be connected to pancreatic or intestinal problems. Besides the possible presence of parasites and Cushing’s disease, some speculate that consuming feces might have something of a probiotic effect for dogs and is a means of helping to balance gut flora.

Attention Seeking Behavior

Though it seems strange, scolding your dog for a certain behavior is often one of the best ways to encourage it. If you tend to not pay enough attention to your dog and your scolding becomes the primary means of interaction, then your dog could take on this behavior in order to get your attention.

Stress/Anxiety

Stress and anxiety tend to make all of us do things we wouldn’t normally do. Though you and I might not eat poop to relieve those feelings, your dog might. If your dog is stressed, its behaviors won’t be limited to coprophagia, but there will also be other indicators associated with it. Learn more about signs of stress in your dog.

Confined Space

Keeping your dog in a confined space for an extended period of time will often cause it to begin eating its own feces. Dogs do not like to sleep in their own crap any more than any other human or animal. The only means at their disposal for cleaning it up is the same way their mothers cleaned up their birthing nest.

Likes the Taste

Another possibility, which seems odd to us, is that they like the taste of the feces. This is most often the case with autocoprophagia or intraspecific coprophagia. Often times, some flavor(s) in the dog food being fed, attract a dog to the appetizing flavor of his own feces or that of other dogs.

How to Stop Your Dog Eating Feces

The first thing to do, once you’ve determined the cause of your dog eating feces, is to directly address the cause. In some cases, the solution is a simple one, but in others, it is more difficult. Obviously, you wouldn’t try to correct the maternal instinct of a mother cleaning her puppies and her nest, but you should consider one or more of the solutions below to help other puppies and dogs gain control over this issue.

Provide for Proper Nutrition

This should be your first consideration because making certain that your dog has a complete diet with all of the recommended nutrients should already be a priority. If the food your feeding your dog isn’t measuring up, then you need to consider another brand or supplements. Here are the recommended nutritional values for your dog.

Worming or Other Medical Treatments

If you suspect that your dog has parasites or other intestinal issues, then you need to have it examined and treated accordingly. By consulting with your veterinarian and describing the problem, you will probably be able to gain a great deal of insight into all causes and possible solutions for your dog’s issue.

Reducing Stress/Anxiety

Like nutritional and medical issues, your dog’s mental health ought to be a priority as well. Once you have recognized that your dog’s coprophagia is brought on by stress, you ought to utilize as many means as you can to help relieve your dog’s stress and relieve its anxiety. Here are some tips on relieving stress and anxiety.

Taste-aversion Products

In some cases, you might need to stay away from certain brands of dog food that encourage autocoprophagia. There are taste and smell aversion products that can be used to help discourage the palatability of feces. The drawback to this method of correction is that you don’t often have control over what others are feeding their dogs.

Cleaning Up

If you keep your dog in a kennel, then you absolutely have to clean it regularly to help prevent your dog from tending to it himself. Get to the feces quickly before you dog feels the need to tend to the cleanliness problem itself. Additionally, make sure your dog isn’t present and “helping” you clean up.

It’s a Phase

If your coprophagia concerns are over the behavior of a puppy, then it is possible that you won’t need to do anything. Many puppies take up eating feces because they see their mothers doing it, but as they grow older and other things take over their attention, they simply grow out of it.

Muzzling Your Dog

This is something of an extreme measure for more extreme cases when around the house, but it isn’t a bad idea to keep in mind if you tend to take your dog out into a more natural setting where it has picked up the habit of interspecific coprophagia. Muzzling your dog in these settings might also be a legal requirement where wildlife interacts with dogs and people.

Training

The most obvious solution to problems that are related to behavior is training. Most dog owners are unaware that most behavioral issues for dogs are not as a result of the dog’s training, but the training of its owner. We have already mentioned several of those behaviors above as they pertain to the following:

• Diet and nutrition

• Medical attention

• Mental health

• Cleaning up after your dog

Puppy training book

Basic Obedience

In addition to correcting these behaviors of your own, learning and utilizing basic obedience tips when exercising your dog outside your home can help you gain control over its aversion to eating the feces of other dogs and other animals.

Attention Seeking Behaviors

Attention seeking behaviors tend to stem from boredom, a lack of physical activity or nervousness. Training those behaviors out of your dog tend to involve meeting those three needs in a proactive manner. Though the above, basic obedience tips will help as well, here is another resource specifically addressing attention seeking behavior training.

If you need any further tips or guidance with your dog’s behavioral problems, check out this great resource page.

If you are still struggling with your training, why not consider professional help from a qualified professional such as Theo “The Dog Lady” from www.dogidog.co.uk.

Conclusion

How do I stop my dog from eating poop? You have to move past that initial reaction, understand what is causing the issue, and utilize ways of correcting the problem rather than just letting it go. In most cases, how your dog is being fed as well as his physical and mental condition can be altered to eliminate the problem.

Pay attention to your dog and work on utilizing proactive solutions like those we’ve provided for you above. Armed with knowledge about the issue and how you can help your dog gain control over it, you can eliminate the problem completely.

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