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Why Dogs Eat Poo And How You Can Stop Them

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Guilty looking Australian shepherd dog

Dogs eating their own, or other dogs’, poo is a rather disgusting yet surprisingly common problem that us dog-owners occasionally must face. There are many reasons that a dog may do this and, thankfully, several ways in which you can help put a stop to the behaviour.

Why Do Dogs Eat Poo?

  • Believe it or not, it’s completely normal for a female dog to eat the faeces of her new pups. It helps to keep their sleep area clean and, from a natural instinct point of view, it helps to remove traces of them that may be picked up by predators or rivals. Some pups will then go on to copy this behaviour. They do usually grow out of this but it’s good to have some ideas in the back of your mind of how to stop it if your puppy does carry on ‘cleaning up’ after itself.
  • If your dog is a rescue or was born on a puppy farm, it could be down to the environment in which she was raised. Hunger, stress and being confined without the chance to get out and relieve herself can all contribute to coprophagia (poo eating).

Dog on a woodland walk

  • Have you had a difficult time toilet training your pup? Sometimes it can be as simple as your dog learning that it can ‘eat the evidence’ and potentially avoid a telling off if you haven’t realised what’s happened.
  • As with many areas of training, if a young dog spots an older dog displaying this behaviour, he will often imitate.
  • There are some medical issues that may increase the likelihood of a dog eating its own, or other dogs’, stools. These include certain deficiencies, parasites and even diabetes.
  • Just as with children, sometimes any attention is good attention. If your dog feels that he’s not getting noticed enough, he will act up to get a reaction out of you. Most people aren’t going to ignore poo eating!


How To Stop Your Dog From Eating Poo

  • The most obvious first step is to keep an eye on your dog when out toileting and clean up after her as soon as she has finished defecating. If she has a habit of eating her poop immediately, once you see that she’s finishing, distract her with something of a higher value, such as a ball or treat.

Dog retrieving a ball

  • Be sure to keep your dog stimulated, both mentally and physically, so that the poo eating doesn’t become a habit borne out of boredom.
  • Make sure that your dog doesn’t have any underlying medical issues and that he is treated for worms.
  • Many people advocate adding pineapple to your dog’s meals. Apparently, it makes the poo less appealing and puts them off – not that I would suggest that dog poo is appealing in the first place!
  • Distraction and training are the most direct tactics, especially if the poo is from other dogs whose diets you can’t control and you can’t avoid coming across it whilst out on walks – not everyone is as vigilant as they perhaps should be at cleaning up after their dog. As soon as you notice your dog going towards a suspicious brown mound, recall him and/or distract him with a ball or treat. Make your offering more tempting than the free meal… Training a ‘leave’ command is also effective.

As with all issues regarding your dog’s health, if you are unsure and/or things don’t improve after trying these techniques, have a word with a trusted veterinary professional to make sure that there are no unseen problems affecting your dog’s behaviour.


Related Articles:
Is Rescuing Dogs From Abroad Doing More Harm Than Good?
Why Dogs Shouldn't Play Fetch With Sticks
Why Do Dogs Eat Grass? Another Old Wives' Tale, Say The Scientists

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