Your dog is probably one of the essential things in your life. As a dog owner myself, I know what a dog can mean to people. Many dog-owners describe the love for their canine companion as parental love. But while parents love their adorable babies, they also have to deal with some pretty awkward things like their toddler playing with its vomit.
If you’ve owned a dog, you’ve probably encountered some repulsive habits, too, like when dogs lick their butts or sniff the butts of their dog friends. These habits are actually pretty normal and largely harmless. Similarly, if you found your dog eating poop, don’t be alarmed. There are many reasons behind this behavior and many ways for you to train this habit out of your pet.
Why Dogs Eat Poop
Some people are shocked to see their dog eating poop, while other people almost expect it because their dog has done much weirder things. Whatever the case, as humans, we like to stay well away from our poop. The simple thought of someone not washing their hands on their way out of the toilet irks us. So why do dogs eat poop is a question on everyone’s mind. Let’s find out.
Normal Reasons Why Dogs Eat Poop
If you caught your dog eating poop and your mind started rushing to conclusions about their health and wellbeing, you can take a breather. There are cases where this behavior is considered normal and no reason for alarm.
- They Are Nursing
- The Poop of Other Animals Tastes Good to Them
Abnormal Reasons Why Dogs Eat Poop
Now that we’ve gotten the casual reason for poop-eating out of the way let’s take a look at when poop-eating might be a symptom of a deeper issue. If your furry friend is eating dog poop and doesn’t match the description above, you need to investigate more for the sake of your dog.
1. They Want to Get Your Attention
Sometimes we can underestimate how much our dogs pick up on emotional queues and when they take something to heart. Whether you leave home for a long night out or you’re too caught up in the work-from-home routine, your dog can feel the distance. From your dog’s perspective, every time it does something it’s not supposed to, you react instantly with a “stop” or “don’t eat this” command. While your intention may be to discourage your dog from this behavior, your dog still feels noticed. Under this theory, your dog is just eating poop to get your attention.
2. They’re Not Feeling Well
There’s actually a name for poop-eating: Coprophagia. If you trust your dog-parenting skills and don’t think a lack of attention is the issue, then you’re dog may be physically unwell. This case is usually accompanied by weight loss and lethargy, and a key indicator is when an adult dog with no childhood poop-eating habit suddenly develops one.
Poop-eating, in this case, hints at a problem in their digestive tract, possibly the intestine. The best way forward here is to get your veterinarian involved immediately.
3. They Have Anxiety
Another psychological reason behind this unappealing habit is anxiety. More specifically, however, I’m talking about separation and confinement anxieties. Humans may have trained and domesticated dogs, but as animals, they hate being captured and limited.
If your dog is showing discomfort in its current space, it may be feeling restricted, which could be leading to this habit.
4. They’re Scared of Being Punished for an Accident
Pavlov’s dog experimented showed how dogs do more of something which they get rewarded for. The Pavlovian response works the other way around too. If dogs are punished for a certain behavior, they will try their best to either not do it or to keep you from finding it.
If a pup got punished for pooping around the house, and it did that again on accident, it will eat the poop to get rid of the evidence. Over time, this can become a habit.
How to Stop a Dog From Eating Poop
Now you probably have an idea why your dog is pooping. With this understanding, you can piece together a strategy to train your puppy out of this habit. Here are some tricks you can start off with. Of course, there are different approaches depending on your dog’s profile. For instance, a dog adopting this habit in adulthood needs to be treated differently than one who starts eating poop from a young age. So our tips and tricks have been categorized accordingly.
Dogs That Eat Cat Poop
If your dog has a roommate cat and it’s eating the cat’s poop, then this isn’t necessarily a sign of some deeper problem. Your dog probably has a tongue for cat poop -as weird as that sounds. But we understand if you still want your dog from chewing on your cat’s poop. Besides, while cat poop (or poop of other species) might contain nutrients that the dog is lacking, there’s no denying the health hazard of potential bacteria that lurk around in the poop.
For these cases, you can engineer some nifty ways to keep your dog from sneaking evening snacks from the litter box. One strategy you can use is to put a door in front of the litter box that is big enough for your cat to sneak in with ease but still too small for your dog. This makes it too inconvenient for the dog. The mini-snack is simply not worth it.
But for people who have small dog species like Yorkie owners, this solution doesn’t really work. As an alternative, you can place the litter box on a table. The table needs to be big enough to not only accommodate the box but have a large landing space. This way, your agile cat can leap up to the table, but it’ll be out of your dog’s reach.
If this doesn’t work either, don’t lose hope. Chew candies will be your light at the end of the tunnel. If you can’t keep the poop out of your dog’s reach, these candies can make the taste of poop unappetizing for your dog.
Puppies That Start Eating Poop
I like to think of dogs, especially young puppies, as little babies just finding out about the world. Like babies, little puppies develop strong habits and are very impressionable. So it’s very important to take the right measures if you’re dog starts to develop a poop-eating habit at a young age.
Telling your dog to sit in a corner as punishment for eating poop is probably not going to work, as we explained earlier. In fact, it may complicate the situation further. The best way to deal with this is not even to let your dog get the opportunity to get its paws on poop. When it’s time for your dog to defecate, grab a dog treat, have your dog poop, and then immediately reward your dog with the treat. While your dog is distracted, munching away its reward, quickly clean up the mess.
Pro tip: you can make this strategy more efficient if you train your dog to poop at specific times of the day. Additionally, you’ll be killing two birds with one stone and introduce discipline to your dog.
Dogs That Are Crated or Have Anxiety or Separation Anxiety
The case of anxious dogs is the most sensitive one to deal with. This is especially true for people who have rescue dogs that exhibit distress and tension.
The best way to deal with this is to target the root cause of the anxiety. If you suspect your dog feels confined or fears that it will be confined, then change its living space. A good idea would be to shift it to a more comfortable place with ample space to roam around. Additionally, if space is fairly quiet, it can help calm your dog down.
Another solution that you can use in conjunction with the previous tip is to fill your dog’s space with toys. The idea here is to keep your dog occupied with something more interesting to do than eating poop. I personally recommend that you use puzzle toys that engage your dog more. Don’t make it too tricky, though, because that will get your dog even more worked up and anxious.
If you feel like the issue isn’t with space but instead has something to do with your dog’s past history with separation and abandonment, then it’s better to bring your dog’s space closer to other members of your house. If you have other dogs, then keeping them close by can also help.
Adult Dogs That Have Learned to Eat Their Poop
If you’re dog never exhibited poop-eating before, there are some specific ways to deal with it.
Redirect Your Dog’s Attention
The first game plan is to distract your dog. It might be a little inconvenient for a while, but you should accompany your dog when it goes for a poop. Then use the same treat distraction trick that we discussed earlier.
Utilize Dog Training Tools
If you’ve always wondered what dog head collars were for, then you’re about to find out. One of the uses of this multipurpose tool is to keep your dog from eating poop or other stuff laying around the house.
Make the Poop Less Appealing
If your dog is still finding ways to sneak a poop meal, and it’s interesting in its own defecation, then you can feed it chew tablets. These will change the taste of the poop and hopefully repulse your dog from poop-eating.