Unusual Eating Habits in Dogs
Why Do Dogs Eat Dog or Cat Poop?
There are lots of theories as to why our dogs eat their poop - they can be broken down into two general groups:
- Canine Behavioral Problem
- Underlying Medical Problem
If you believe a medical problem could be causing your dog to eat his or her poop then a trip to your Vet is a must. They will perform an examination and can pinpoint the problem for you immediately.
An important thing to remember for all dog owners, who have a poop eating puppy, is to ensure that all dog vaccinations and worming treatments are up to date. The reason for this is that various diseases and internal parasites can be passed from dog to dog through coprophagia.
Common Causes of Dog Coprophagia
- It simply tastes good to your dog
- Could be a symptom of anxiety, stress or boredom.
- Puppies may have a vitamin or mineral deficiency and they eat feces to restore this balance.
- If a puppy is punished for eliminating (pooping) inside your house he may on future occasions eat his poop to "hide the evidence". This could happen because your puppy has misinterpreted the punishment. In other words he believes that he was punished for pooping, rather than for pooping in the wrong area.
- Could be that your dog is cleaning up his living area. This of course should be the owner's job.
- Sometimes dogs develop this feces eating habit because they are copying the behavior of other dogs. There is also a theory that some dogs eat their poop because they see their owners cleaning it up, and they just decide to do it for themselves.
- Bitches with a young litter of pups will often eat the puppy's droppings. This is to keep the area clean and also to help conceal the litter from any predators.
- Could be the result of over feeding. If a dog is over-fed he doesn't properly digest his food, therefore his feces still smell and taste like his dinner!
- If you only feed once a day, some dogs can become very hungry and scavenge around for any food (including feces).
- Some dogs have been known to develop Coprophagia when put on certain medications or antibiotics.
- A dog may eat the feces of a sick dog. This behavior is an attempt to conceal or protect the sick dog from predators.
- Dog owners have noted that when changing their dog's diet the dog has developed coprophagia - especially if the change was to a diet high in fat.
How to Stop Dogs Eating Dog Poop
The techniques below have proven to be an effective way to stop dogs eating dog poop. You should try one method or combine a few until you break your dog's habit. Remember that unnecessary punishment or getting angry with your dog does not work - for this or any other dog behavior problem.
- Feed well balanced and nutritious meals.
- Try feeding twice a day at regular times rather than only once.
- Always keep your dog's living area clean of feces and provide a few stuffed chew toys to keep them occupied.
- Be sure to adequately exercise and stimulate your dog - mentally and physically.
- Teach your dog the basic obedience command "leave it". If you have established yourself as the fair and always consistent leader in your owner-dog relationship, this command will work immediately.
- Put a tablespoon of pineapple in his or her food. Apparently pineapple tastes terrible when eaten in poop.
- Always reward desired behavior.
- As soon as you see your dog in the act of pooping provide a distraction. Maybe run off on him or call him over to you straight away - you can then praise or reward him. This may be sufficient to break this nasty habit, but you must be consistent using this method.
- If you visit your local pet store you will find various products specifically designed for this problem. Forbid and Deter are a couple of products which have proven to help some dogs stop eating feces.
- In some cases fitting a muzzle to your dog may help to break a feces eating habit. This method is suitable in times when your dog is off leash, like at the beach or local dog park.
- Use the power of "negative association" through the use of a choke or prong collar. Fit your dog with the collar and every time he goes to eat poop give a short sharp tug on the leash. This correction will quickly teach your dog that eating poop is not a pleasant experience.
Whichever method you try with your dog be sure to be consistent. You must enforce your strategy every time in order to stop dogs eating dog poop. The longer you let this habit establish itself, the harder it will be to break.
One last thing - most dogs do eventually grow out of their poop eating habit, just not fast enough for us owners!
Reprinted by permission of the Complete Guide to Responsible Dog Ownership.