Dogs eating poop, also known as coprophagia, is a common but unpleasant behavior that many pet owners struggle with. While it may seem disgusting to us, it is a normal behavior for dogs and can stem from a variety of reasons. In this blog, we will discuss why dogs eat poop and what can be done to stop it.
Why do dogs eat poop?
- Nutritional deficiencies: A lack of certain nutrients in a dog’s diet can lead to coprophagia. Dogs may eat feces to supplement their diet and get the nutrients they are missing. If you suspect your dog is eating poop due to a nutritional deficiency, consult with your veterinarian to determine if a change in diet is necessary.
- Instinct: Eating feces is a natural behavior for dogs. In the wild, dogs would eat the feces of their pack to keep their den clean and eliminate any parasites or diseases. Some rescue dogs from puppy mills learnt this behavior because they lived in a kennel 24/7.
- Boredom or anxiety: Dogs that are bored or anxious may turn to eating feces as a form of entertainment or comfort. Providing your dog with mental self control and structured exercise can help prevent boredom and anxiety-related coprophagia.
- Attention-seeking behavior: In some cases dogs may eat poop to get their owner’s attention. This can be a learned behavior, and it may be more likely to occur in dogs that figure out ways to get attention from their owners through doing unwanted behaviors.
- Medical conditions: In some cases, coprophagia may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as an intestinal parasite or a gastrointestinal disorder. If your dog has been eating feces and shows other signs of illness, it is important to take them to a veterinarian for a thorough examination.
How to stop dogs from eating poop
- Management and scheduling: Teach your dog to do poop on leash at certain time windows. As soon as he/she is done say ‘let’s go’ walk away and reward. If you keep it up long in enough (sometimes a year) it tends to disappear. Dogs do what they practice and they stop doing what they don’t practice. Create a new habit right after poop time and imprint that new behavior in your dog.
- Proper hygiene: Keeping your yard and home clean and free of feces will reduce your dog’s exposure to it and decrease the likelihood of them eating it.
- Enhance their diet: Adding digestive enzymes or probiotics to your dog’s diet can help improve their digestion and reduce their interest in eating feces. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best options for your dog.
- Provide plenty of structured activities and exercise: Make sure that your dog is getting enough structured activities, walks and exercise to keep them happy and in a sound state of mind.
In conclusion, coprophagia is a common behavior in dogs that can stem from a variety of reasons. With proper training, management, and attention, it is possible to discourage your dog from eating feces and prevent this unpleasant behavior from happening in the future. If you are concerned about your dog’s behavior, it is always best to consult with a trainer/behaviorist to implement a sound strategy and with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
© Gabriel Riesco, Pawmos Dog Training LLC | All Rights Reserved December 2022