How to Stop a Puppy from Eating Poop: 8 Things We Can Try Right Now
By now, we all know that puppies love doing crazy things all day long. From chasing their tails to bumping into furniture — these small balls of fur sometimes seem as if they only exist for our entertainment! However, one of the craziest types of behavior they engage in is feasting on their feces. So, that’s what we’ll be talking about today — how to stop a puppy from eating poop, no matter how much it’s enjoying it!
To be honest, most of you probably think it cannot be done. Some dog owners even claim that all we can do is wait it out. Over time, the puppy will overcome this type of behavior and learn that kibble is good and poop is bad. Nevertheless, there are some things we can do right now that could put an end to poopy dinners once and for all. But, first — we have to talk about why it’s even a problem.
How to stop a puppy from eating poop: Why does it even happen?
They saw their mom doing it and thought they should do it too
Dog mothers often try to keep their puppies as clean as possible by eating the poop everyone leaves in piles all over the den. By doing so, she’s showing her maternal side and sort of setting an example.
Another reason for the mother to eat poop is protection. She doesn’t want any predators to come after her babies, which they might if they get drawn by the scent.
So, in essence, this is learned behavior most puppies are bound to exhibit at some point. And, even though everyone expects them to stop as soon as they’re weaned and know where they should do the deed, some rascals continue eating poop into adulthood. Thus, it becomes a major issue — one that could easily put owners off dogs forever!
Something is going on with the puppy
On the other hand, if we notice our puppy is suddenly eating poop, we have to carefully consider its environment. Has anything changed in the meantime? Did a favorite family member leave, or did we get another pet? All these things could lead to anxiety and stress, which are known to cause poop eating in dogs.
Boredom and lack of attention
Puppies need a lot of entertainment, plenty of exercises and new experiences so that they may, one day, become confident adult dogs. Therefore, if they’re bored, i.e., no one’s playing with them as much as they need, or their owners are not giving them enough attention, they might resort to eating poop. If they’re bored, eating feces will provide them with at least 15 minutes of doing something. Likewise, if they lack attention, even a negative reaction will get us to spend at least five more minutes with them!
Underlying medical condition
Finally, poop eating could have a medical background. Worms and other intestinal parasites are known to wreak havoc and cause nutritional deficiency. The puppy is eating all its food, but it’s not getting enough nutrients because of the parasites. Thus, it tries to supplement its diet by — you guessed it — eating the poop.
The same can be seen in dogs that suffer from poor digestion. If the puppy’s diet lacks digestible nutrients, it will come out of it almost in the same form it came in. The puppy won’t be able to process it properly, which is why it will try to “start over” by eating its feces.
How to stop a puppy from eating poop: 8 ways to put an end to it.
- Plenty of exercise and playtime
- Change the diet
- Learn obedience training
- Use a leash to distract the puppy
- Use treats to reward good behavior
- Get Cleaning & Scrubbing
- Get a check-up with the vet
- Pay attention to all poop
#1: Make sure it gets plenty of exercise and playtime
Even though we sometimes think that just a quick session of tug-of-war is enough for our puppy, we have to remember that dogs thrive when they get plenty of exercises. It’s in their nature to always be outside, running around and catching prey. So, by not giving them what they actually need, they could easily spiral and start showing signs of anxiety, boredom, and stress.
Luckily, the solution is quite easy. All we have to do is commit to at least two half-hour walks per day. If the puppy is growing fast because it’s one of those larger breeds, we will have to adjust our schedule to have its needs met. That way, it’s likely that it won’t even have time to think about eating poop, let alone do it.
Besides, this is a great way to ensure it’s getting all the attention it wants. Spending time with it at the park, running around the backyard, and playing fetch twice a day is enough for us to bond with the pup and show our love for it!
#2: Change its diet
As mentioned, poor digestion is one of the main reasons we might notice our puppies are suddenly eating poop. Given that they’re not getting enough nutrients, we cannot even blame them. They’re just looking after themselves!
However, the problem is that poor digestion and lack of a proper, healthy diet can affect the dog’s health. It could lead to all sorts of issues related to weight and development, as well as a both watery and insufficiently broken down stool.
Thus, it’s time to pay attention to what our puppy’s eating. We have to make sure we’re giving it only the best of the best. Sure, high-quality kibble might cost more. A raw diet full of protein is definitely going to make a dent in our budget, especially since it isn’t even for us. But, let’s face it — it’s all worth it if it will keep our dog from eating poop and leaving us early!
The whole point of obedience training is not to make a dog our slave. It’s to give its life some structure and help it understand that our world has some rules. Therefore, if the poop eating is happening purely because the dog is misbehaving or is unable to resist it, we should aim to teach it a few commands that could help it refocus.
These include the simple “stay,” “stop,” and “come,” which will be enough to help the dog switch focus from feces to us. It’ll leave the poop alone, stop playing with it, and over time, stop even trying to eat it once it’s “out.”
#4: Use a leash and distract the puppy
If you’re outside and notice the puppy is often sniffing around other dogs’ poop, know it’s time to take action. If by any chance the poop is full of parasites, you could be in for a world of trouble. Therefore, aim to keep the pup on the leash at all times until it stops. It has to “learn” that poop is, in general, stinky and not something it should eat.
If that doesn’t help, though, you can also always use distraction techniques. Pointing out something in the park, or refocusing the dog with a toy is all it takes for it to leave the poop alone. And, if we repeat the same technique often enough, at some point, the dog will just “know” not to eat/sniff the poop.
#5: Use treats to reward positive behavior
When trying to teach a dog anything, even when it’s related to something as crazy as eating poop, we have to give it an incentive. It has to know it will get something nice in return. So, one of the best ways to reward positive behavior is by using treats.
All we have to do is give the dog a treat, preferably one that won’t cause even more digestive issues, to show it that it’s doing a good job whenever it leaves the poop alone. That way, we’ll help it form a habit out of it, and as you all know — habits die hard.
#6: Arm yourself with cleaners and get scrubbing
One of the major reasons both puppies and adult dogs continue to eat poop is the scent and the taste. The floor they used as a bathroom might not seem that dirty to us, and we’ve scooped up the poop. However, the scent might be still there! It might entice them to poop on that same spot tomorrow and end their day on a high note by eating some “delicious” feces.
What can we do about it? Well, we have to try to keep things as clean as possible. That means whenever the puppy passes stool — we have to pick it up immediately and throw it away. Even when it’s dark outside, and it’s hard to see the poop — a flashlight will be our best friend. That way, we’ll not only show it that poop is not to be eaten, but we’ll also prevent other dogs from feasting on it.
Whatever we do, we shouldn’t let the dog inspect the poop or play with it. That could make it think this sort of behavior is OK. It has plenty of toys and lots of food, so poop definitely shouldn’t be on the menu.
#7: Get the puppy to the vet for a check-up
If you haven’t noticed any behavioral or mood changes, the puppy might be actually suffering from an underlying medical condition. In that case, you should take it to the vet and bring a few samples of its stool. In fact, you can notice some changes yourself. If there are rice-like segments in the feces, that could be a sign tapeworms are the real issue.
On the other hand, if the dog is a diarrhea master (and loves eating it), you could be looking at a roundworm, hookworm, or whipworm infection. In any case, the vet will know how to treat it and finally give you some peace of mind.
#8: Pay attention to ALL poop
And finally, we have to talk about the fact that puppies tend to eat other animals’ poop too. Cat feces, in particular, are quite appetizing to them. Don’t be surprised if you see your puppy near the litter box. It might be going for a snack!
Why dogs love eating cat poop is something that bothers most dog owners. In most cases, it could be down to the taste; after all, even we cannot say that cat food doesn’t look tempting sometimes. Another reason could be plain boredom again, or nutritional deficiency, which they are looking to compensate for by eating both their own and the cat’s poop.
The easiest way to solve this is to make sure the litter box is out of the puppy’s reach. Additionally, the same cleaning routine goes for cats — immediately cleaning up after them is essential. Cats don’t like dirty litter boxes, and they might start pooping somewhere in the house. So, by failing to keep up with both pets, you could create additional problems for yourself. Not only would the cat stop pooping in the box, but the dog would keep eating poop as it would be even more accessible then!
As you can see, a puppy eating poop may or may not be a huge issue. It could just be learned behavior that’ll take some time to overcome. On the other hand, it might be trying to tell us something; it’s anxious, under a lot of stress or just looking for some love!
Either way, now you know how you can stop it fast without punishment or yelling. All you have to find out in the meantime is how to stop the puppy from licking your face right after eating poop!