Dogs eat poop for a variety of reasons including –
- Nutritional imbalance –the stool still has undigested minerals and nutrients.
- Stress – extreme anxiety my cause this as a displacement behavior.
- Boredom – Lack of activity and interaction
- Enjoyment – Many dogs like the taste of leavings from cats or other animals.
- Clean-up – Some dogs may eat poop inside the house to keep their living space clean. Dogs that are physically punished for potty training mistakes, may learn to eat their own poop to avoid our anger or strong discipline.
- Any combination of the above.
The most effective method to stop our dog from eating poop, will depend on the reason for his behavior, his temperament, as well as your own preferences.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop
1. Feed your dog a healthy and balanced diet.
2. Maintain a fixed feeding schedule and on-leash supervision.
It will help keep his bathroom schedule regular and predictable as well.
During potty time
- Put the problem dog on a leash, and walk him out to do his business.
- If he tries to eat his own feces, correct with NO! and lead him away. Do some obedience commands, and then try again. If he does not try to pull towards the bad stuff, praise him and reward him well.
- Keep sessions short, and end on a positive note.
- Make sure to clean up after him.
- If you have other dogs, only let them out after cleaning up and keep the problem dog on-leash, to supervise.
3. Keep your dog busy and well-exercised.
Bored dogs will frequently develop behavioral issues and cause property damage. It is important to walk our dog regularly (preferably every day), and to provide structured, interesting activities, to keep his mind sharp and engaged.
4. Keep your dog’s environment clean.
Scoop up after our dog, as soon as he is done with his business.
5. Help your dog reduce stress.
Identify situations that cause extreme stress in our dog, and try to reduce the number of stressful encounters.
6. Teach your dog the ‘Leave-it’ command.
First, get some yummy treats that your dog likes. Put one treat in your hand, and make sure my dog knows it is there. Close hand into a fist, and hold it still.
The dog will naturally nose all over your hand, while trying to get to the treat. Say Leave-it, and wait for him to briefly stop nosing your hand.
As soon as he stops, mark the behavior (Yes!), and treat him from your other hand.
Slowly lengthen the time he has to leave your hand alone, before you mark and treat.
Practice the Leave-it command with a treat on the floor as he catches on to the game. (In this game, do not make the treat on the floor his reward. Give him one from your hand.)
Keep practicing this until you have a really solid Leave-it command. Now, we can use it when our dog gets tempted by animal leavings during walks.
Note that independent minded dogs may choose to eat the feces anyway, if they decide that your reward is of lesser value. If this happens, upgrade rewards, and make sure that the dog does not get within striking distance of the bad stuff. In addition, quickly march the dog home and end the walk, if he manages to sneak in some poop eating. This teaches him that if he eats the stuff, the nice and interesting walk ends. That is usually enough of a deterrent to stop any roadside temptations.
7. Make the dog poop taste bad.
Adding meat tenderizer containing papain, in small quantities to our dog’s food, will sometimes prevent poop eating. Commercially available stool deterrent supplements can also have some success.
Only use one additive at a time, so that our dog’s digestive system does not become overly unbalanced.
Remember to consult with our vet, before using any of these additives. Adding too much, may give our dog digestive issues. Some dogs may also be allergic to the added ingredients.
Instead of adding to our dog’s food, we may also coat our dog’s poop with taste deterrents such as Bitter Apple.
Note that taste deterrents are added to the feces, and *not* to the food.