Q: My 4 month old Yorkie eats his poop. We have tried putting the powder on his food a vet recommended and also changed to Pediatric food but he continues to eat it. What can we do to make him stop eating his poop?
Now, read the trainer take:
Hi there! Thanks for writing in with such a great question. Although it’s not talked about very much, you are not alone in owning a dog who likes to eat his own poop! There are quite a few dogs who engage in coprophagia actually. I know of more than few dogs who share this dirty little secret!
The thing about dogs eating either their own poop, another dogs’ poop, cat poop, or any animal poop is that it is completely revolting to us people, understandably! We just can’t imagine, or stomach watching our adorable lovebugs munching down on a fresh pile of his own poop. Eww! And god forbid, let him wriggle on over to cover us with slobbery poopy kisses!
But in the doggy world, this is a completely normal canine behavior. I know, you just gagged, but it’s true. And it doesn’t bother the dog one bit. The ones who do it really love it, as disgusting as that sounds.
There are many reasons as to why a dog might eat his poop, be it his own, or someone else’s:
- The dog is missing something from its diet, and is looking to regain enzymes or minerals it is lacking. Some dogs are also missing fiber in their diets.
- The dog is hungry, either due to lack of food, or internal parasites, such as worms. If the dog eats too quickly, then he may crave his nutient rich poop. Or if the dog has digestive problems, and his food is not being properly absorbed.
- The dog is either bored, lonely, anxious or stressed.
- The dog may eat his poop to clean up his area, especially if he poops in his crate or bed.
- The dog may eat his poop to hide the ‘evidence’ if it knows it will anger you.
- If the dog is a female, it is natural for her to eat her offspring’s poop to keep the den clean, and to ward off predators, so eating her own poop, or a housemates’ poop might be natural for her.
- If your dog is an older unneutered male, or a male who was neutered late in life, he may eat other dogs’ poop to try to establish ownership of territory.
- Some dogs eat poop just because they love the taste of it.
- Some puppies eat poop as a novelty. The smells may be intoxicating (in a good way) to the pup. Puppies are also very curious by nature, and they love to get into things that are new. Puppies also love what is familiar to them, and a fresh poop can seem very similar to what his mother fed him when he was a tiny puppy, when she regurgitated food for him.
Now that we’ve covered the reasons why a dog may eat his own, or other dogs’ poop, we’ll go over how to stop him from doing so. If he’s eating his own poop, there shouldn’t be any danger to the dog, but if he’s eating other dogs’ poop, then he may pick up some unwanted parasites. All that and the
fact that as people, we just find it plan gross!
When it comes to treating any unwanted behaviors, the best course of action is always prevention, and regaining control of the dogs’ environment. We want to set the dog up to succeed, so we will try to prevent him from doing it in the first place. The best way to do this is to keep the dogs’
area clean. Do not leave him enough time alone with his poop so that he has time to wolf it down. Clean up after him right away. You can also keep him on a leash, so that he is not allowed to get near ANY type of poop.
You can then offer him a better course of action. One that will reward him more than his poop eating, as he finds his poop eating to be a VERY self rewarding behavior. He wouldn’t do it if it didn’t reward him in some way. All we have to do is find out what is more rewarding to him.
That may be a change in diet, a deworming, more exercise, neutering, more people/dog time, or rewards that are much yummier than doggy poop!
I would not suggest using any negative forms of punishment, such as yanking on his collar or leash when he tries to eat poop. A voice command may work, but luring him away with a much better smelling, yummier treat will get a better result! The dog will choose whatever pays off the best! Teaching the dog the ‘off’ or ‘leave it’ command can also come in very handy here.
There are also consumable deterrents you can use too. Pet supply stores and your vet carry products for this purpose. You can also put one of the following into the dogs’ food that should render his poop not so tempting anymore. Adding cooked spinach, pumpkin or meat tenderizer should help with
All in all, the deterrents should work, but dealing with the source of the behavior will yield in much better results. So long as you practice diligence and consistency, you should be able to help your dog to give up his dirty little secret!
Good luck and happy training!
Perfect Pet Training