Believe it or not, some dogs eat poop. This is known as Coprophagia. While it is something that probably grosses out most pet owners, it is a reality. It happens. The problem is, poop is not something that you want your dog eating. We had a dog once that used to eat poop out of the litter box, and that was a difficult habit to break, but we did it! First things first, you need to learn why dogs eat poop. By understanding this, you will be closer to breaking the habit.
#1 – Face the Facts – Dogs are Scavengers!
Dogs are instinctively scavengers, and while they have been domesticated over the years, it doesn’t take away that natural instinct that they have. Years ago, in ancient history, dogs would often times feed on the waste products of other animals, including other dogs. Also, it is completely common, normal even, for new mothers to eat the poop of their puppies. This helps them to keep the den clean, and keep it from smelling and attracting predators. Again, just another natural instinctive behavior that occurs from time to time.
#2 – They Want to Hide an Accident
Most pet owners don’t react too kindly when they come in to an accident in the floor. Even if you have a whole lot of patience, your dog may be ashamed of themselves if they have an accident in the house. They may even eat the poop to cover up the accident. This is especially true for dogs that don’t have patient owners. An impatient owner may rub their dog’s nose in the poop (please DON’T!), or punish them in other ways. To avoid this, Dogs may just dispose of it so that there is no evidence left behind to incriminate them. They may even see it as their way of ‘picking up’ after themselves.
#3 – They Crave Your Attention
If your dog isn’t getting enough attention, chances are they may be just eating poop out of boredom, or just to get more attention from you. When they eat poop, you probably have a pretty negative reaction to them, but in their eyes, they are just getting the attention that they want. They don’t always care if it is negative attention or positive attention, just as long as they are getting some attention. If you just give your pet a bit more attention, you may actually be able to nip the problem in the bud if this is why they are doing it.
#4 – They Are Lacking Key Nutrients
Some reasons why dogs eat poop are a bit more serious, and may require a veterinary visit. If your dog is not getting enough nutrients, they may eat poop to try to make up for what they are lacking. Insufficient amounts of vitamin B is actually one of the most common causes of Coprophagia. Sometimes, your dog may be getting enough food, but may just not be absorbing the nutrients. This may be due to an underlying condition, and you really need to schedule a visit with your vet to rule out anything serious.
#5 – They Don’t Know Any Better
Finally, you may find that your pup simply does not know any better. As we said before, it is a natural thing for them to do. If your dog has never been scolded for eating poop, or is still just a puppy, they may really just not know that they don’t need to do it. Puppies often eat poop out of curiosity, but soon learn that they don’t prefer the taste.
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How to Stop Dogs from Eating Poop
Now that you know why dogs eat poop, it is time to take a look at some of the methods for stopping this habit. There are several things that you can do, and they include:
- Change up their diet and feed them high quality, nutrient rich dog food.
- Feed your dog enough food so that they aren’t doing it just because they are hungry.
- Schedule a veterinary exam to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
- Don’t leave poop around for them to consume. Instead, get rid of it right away.
- Teach them a simple ‘leave it’ command, and use this to reinforce positive behaviors.
- Praise your dog when they do as they are told.
- Give your dog the attention they need, so they won’t eat poop out of boredom.
- Use effective house training tips to prevent accidents.
Don’t freak out too much if you see your dog eating poop. Just try to remind yourself that it is actually somewhat common. Remember – it is always best for you to stop the behavior as soon as you notice it. If it continues, it can actually be harmful to your pet, especially if they eat poop that comes from a sick animal. You don’t want them to contract a disease or other illness from it. So, while there are several reasons why dogs eat poop, the ways to stop it remain the same.
Talk to your vet if you have issues along the way, and they can point you in the right direction.