Dog Poop Eating Behavior Explained
Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?
It depends. If you have been reading my pet blog for a while, you probably know by now there is never a one size fits all. My intention for this “dog eating poop” article and video is to cover a few reasons why dogs eat their own poop, eat rabbit poop or other dog’s poop. Then, I will offer a few suggestions on how you might be able to stop your dog from eating poop.
Watch the Facebook LIVE video on dog poop eating and don’t forget to subscribe!
Dogs May Eat Poop Because of Poor Canine Nutrition
It’s true. A dog’s body is telling them that something is missing from their diet. My first recommendation is to feed your dog a species-appropriate fresh-food diet. Those canines were meant to eat meat, whether you feed your dog a DIY balanced raw dog food, home-cooked dog food, or a prepared raw pet food, your dog and his gut will thank you for it.
If you are unable to feed your dog a fresh-food diet, or if your dog or puppy still eats his dog poop, the next thing I think about is a dog’s gut health. A dog’s gut consists of a proper good-to-bad bacteria ratio to aid in his digestion. If your dog’s gut isn’t functioning properly, you may need to tweak a few things in his diet. Poop, especially fresh poop, is a great source of digestive enzymes! Hence, why a dog may be eating his poop or the poop of other dogs and animals, think rabbit poop. There are lots of enzymes in rabbit poop.
Dogs Often Eat Their Own Poop Due to Behavior Problems
As with most dog behavioral problems, a little digging into your dog’s history can shed light on why your dog eats his own poop. Let’s take a look at some of the more common behavioral reasons a dog may eat his poop.
- Punished for Eating Dog Poop– As a positive dog trainer, I see more problems with the use of punishment that I see good. Even a firm “no” can lead some dogs to act out more aggressively or more inappropriately. If your dog has been yelled at for pooping in the house or even eating his own poop, he may try to eat the evidence. You may be surprised to find out how many of my new dog training clients think their puppy is potty trained, only to find out later that the puppy has been eating his poop.
- Confined Too Long in Dog Crate or Kennel– The beauty about crate training your puppy is that most dogs do not like to be near their own feces. By teaching your dog how to enjoy his crate, you can speed up your puppy potty training efforts. However, leaving your puppy or dog in his kennel or crate too long may teach him to eat his own feces rather than be next to it or step on it. This is particularly true for dogs rescued from puppy mills.
- A Hungry Dog– In the puppy mill situation, it is not uncommon for dogs to eat their poop because they are hungry and do not have regular access to food. Even though your puppy mill rescue now leads the good life, he may still do this behavior due to a learned response.
- Your Dog or Puppy is Bored– Boredom is often the cause or at least a contributor to bad behavior. I see this behavior a lot with dogs that are happily playing with poopsicles. Oh, what fun it is to bat at their frozen dog poop and chase it in the yard. Toss in a good dose of their human chasing after them, and what a fun game we have created. Poopsicles make me very nervous, as I’m always afraid a dog may swallow it and choke.
Dogs Learn to Eat Poop by Watching Other Dogs
Monkey see, monkey do. Dogs absolutely can learn both good and bad behaviors from other dogs. People, too, by the way. Boy, do I sure hope they aren’t learning poop eating from watching a person. That’s a whole other type of blog.
When to See Your Dog’s Veterinarian about His Poop-Eating Behavior
I’m never against taking your dog to his veterinarian for a physical and exam. This is especially important if this is a new behavior and/or if your dog is losing weight. A new behavior always gets my “see your vet” vote. Your vet may want to run blood work on your dog, including checking for pancreatitis and looking for various parasites.
Stop a Dog or Puppy from Eating Poop
Improve your dog’s nutrition and gut health. This typically includes prebiotics, probiotics, and the addition of digestive enzymes to help your dog’s gut break down his food. You may consider providing your dog with probiotic, prebiotic, and enzyme supplements, or you may look at providing your dog these from fresh foods.
Personally, I tend to do a combination of both, and I rotate between brands and foods. You can read more about dog probiotics and prebiotics in this article. When using foods, I prepare Dexter’s raw DIY and include approximately 5-15% fruits, vegetables, and greens into his mix. Some of those will include foods that offer natural enzymes. Some natural digestive enzymes for dogs include: pineapple, papaya, mango, honey, bananas, fermented foods, kiwi, ginger, kefir, and pancreas.
Entertain and exercise your dog. This by far is a topic that often breaks my heart. We bring these active, fun-loving creatures into our homes, then we don’t do anything with them. We expect them to just be ready for a short walk or a toss or two of the ball and to be zombie dogs the rest of the time. Sorry, folks, canines are very playful creatures. Play is an integral part of their lives, which is probably why we love them so much. Take a good look at what you are currently doing with them to engage both their minds and bodies. You may need to up your game.
Pick up, pick up, pick up. Pick up your dog’s poop. It’s time to ditch all the temptation and to help your dog go down a better path. This may mean you will need to be right there with your dog during pooping time or even have him on his leash. If you have multiple dogs, this may also mean taking turns to potty or partitioning off a part of your yard for the poop eater, and you go outside with him while the other pups are doing their business. Think long and hard about your personal situation. I ask my clients, “If you had to pay me $10,000 every time your dog ate poop, would you be able to manage his environment to prevent the behavior?” All clients have come up with a solution.
Products to stop poop eating. Honestly, I do not find this option very successful. First, if you are thinking about using a product on the market to stop a dog from eating poop, PLEASE read the entire ingredient panel before making your decision. There are some very nasty products out there that include ingredients I would never give my own dog. A few things I may try are to add either pure pumpkin, pineapple, or spinach to the pooper’s diet. It is said that after eating these foods the poop won’t be as appealing and I feel these ingredients are safe to feed a dog. But, it’s either going to work right away or not. I typically suggest about a teaspoon or tablespoon a day of one or a combination of all three.
OutFox® Field Guard is another option to manage your dog’s poop eating. It’s not my first suggestion, but can help those people who really are stuck for a good management tool. This is a typically safe black mesh hood that covers and protects a dog’s entire head, preventing them from eating things. The original intention is to prevent foxtail injury, but a lot of dog owners have been using OutFox® Field Guard to prevent their dogs from ingesting things they shouldn’t.
Dog Poop Eating Conclusion
So, there you have it. Those are the most common reasons why a dog or puppy may eat his poop or another dog’s poop. The suggestions I offered on how to stop a dog from eating his poop will only work if you follow through. Management is typically a necessity with most dog behaviors and is especially true for poop eating. Good luck, and don’t forget to read up on stopping a dog from eating cat poop and how to brush your dog’s teeth here in the blog!
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