The main causes of dogs eating poop are:
1. Natural behavior
3. Anxiety, fear, and stress
4. To evade punishment
6. Learned Behavior
Why is my dog eating poop?
That is a question I am asked all the time. It is not uncommon for pets to consume poop and is a behavior widely known as coprophagia.
This behavior is quite a common occurrence in a dog’s life and it is caused by several factors. Even as gross as it sounds, your dog might find a delicacy in his or other pets poop. However, it is a vice that you can be able to control and stop as it has its own shortcomings.
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Why is my dog eating poop? Some of the factors that could encourage coprophagia in dogs include;
1. Natural behavior
Now, we often forget that dogs are still natural scavengers, even after domestication. This makes him want to do things he would be doing in the wild. For instance, in the wild, dogs will eat poop to get rid of the foul smell, or because he likes it.
If your dog has developed this habit, you will need to monitor him in order to know how to stop him. If your dog has recently given birth, she might eat poop to protect her young puppies. Dogs are aware that poop may attract predators and thus the need to get rid of it.
Your dog might also engage in eating poop from other pets, and animals, especially during walks. People who keep both a cat and a dog may also have to deal with coprophagia. This is because dogs really like cat poop and will consume it at every chance he can.
And an underfed dog is definitely going to find his and maybe other animals’ poop a delicacy. This is because the poop will smell like food, and sometimes your dog will be right. cat poop usually contains nutrients that most dogs like. This means that if your pup feels underfed, he might end up supplementing his diet with poop.
You should be able to determine the amount of food you should give your dog. Your vet will be able to determine this through your dog’s weight, age, and other factors. It is recommended to feed your dog twice a day for adult dogs and three to four times for puppies.
Dogs love routines and that is why you should teach them to feed at particular times. Once you have trained him to feed at the scheduled time. This way, you can always be able to pick up waste to keep him from eating it.
However, if you own a highly active dog, you may have to consider increasing his food amount. You should be able to consult with the vet about the amount of food to offer him.
3. Anxiety, fear, and stress
Just like humans, dogs have to deal with everyday anxiety and stress on various occasions. For instance, if you have a new dog eating poop, it might be a result of anxiety. A new dog will experience anxiety and stress for the first few days before he adapts to the surroundings.
However, you can be able to correct this behavior after a few days. You may help your new puppy overcome anxiety by spending more time with him. You may take him with you to your bedroom, probably in a crate. This way, the feelings of loneliness and stress will be unlikely to show.
However, you should also train your dog to be alone after a few days to prevent him from developing anxiety. You can do this by moving his crate to his sleeping place and spending time with him. By playing and exercising, your dog is unlikely to develop anxiety-related conditions.
4. To evade punishment
Most people will punish their dog for failing to obey certain rules that have been taught to him. For instance, even after intensive training, your dog might still fail to remember potty training. Of course, you are going to be frustrated and probably feel the need to punish him.
Punishment is the most ineffective way to reinforce any type of training. In fact, most dog experts recommend rewarding as the best means to make your dog learn. If your dog eliminates in the restricted area, you should not yell or scold him. Instead, increasing his training time and finding more effective ways to reinforce it will work.
If you punish your dog for pooping in the house, he might develop a habit of eating it to hide. This way, he will not be punished as you will not be aware that he soiled the house.
Dogs are easily bored by having nothing to do than wait for their master all day long. For this reason, they will find something to do, which might include eating their own poop. This is common with under-exercised dogs, who will need a way to release pent-up energy.
Usually, dogs get a release of extra energy through playing, exercise, and walks. When you haven’t spared enough time to play and exercise your dog, he might get bored. This leaves him energetic and he will engage in inappropriate behaviors to distract himself.
It could help if you left your dog some rotating toys to play with when you are gone. You can spend exercise time to train him on how to play to avoid boredom. When your puppy is occupied, it is unlikely for him to eat his poop.
6. Learned behavior
This is a common cause of coprophagia, especially in dogs that have lived with older dogs with the behavior. For instance, if you recently got a puppy from a shelter and he has been eating poop, it might be he has learned it.
In a shelter, the dogs are grouped and stay together, which means they meet their initial nature of living in packs. This way, they learn behaviors from other dogs including coprophagia. If your dog has learned the habit, proper training should be able to eliminate the behavior.
Dogs will eat poop simply because it is there, they can smell it, as well as see it. If you leave the dog and other pet waste in his sleeping place, he might consider eating it up. This will, in turn, become a chronic behavior that is hard to correct.
It is essential to always make sure that your pet’s waste is collected and disposed of as soon as possible. This way, your dog will not have access to the poop.
This is common especially in young puppies that are experimenting and learning about nature. You should have it in mind that your dog still has scavenger instincts even after domestication. This leads to your dog fetching for himself around your house. If he comes across poop, he might end up eating it right up as he explores.
The behavior is likely to stop as soon as it is discouraged.
Why is my dog eating poop? Is coprophagia harmful to your dog?
This behavior is normally harmless, but it could expose your dog to some diseases and parasites. This usually happens when your dog is eating poop from other animals. They could have had internal parasites that could cause your dog-related illnesses.
It is unlikely for your puppy to contract a disease from eating his own poop. This, however, will depend on whether you deworm your dog against intestinal parasites. If you notice symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite after he consumes poop, consult the vet.
If poop eating becomes chronic in your dog, you should consider checking for underlying conditions. This should not alarm you but dogs with chronic coprophagia may be diagnosed with diabetes. However, parasitic infections are more common than serious illnesses in dogs.
How do I stop my dog from eating poop?
This is quite a common question among dog owners, especially when they are facing coprophagia. However, it cannot be emphasized enough that knowing the cause of the vice is helpful in curbing it.
Coprophagia is actually more of a behavioral condition than a medical one. This means that it is not as difficult to eliminate it.
Below are some of the methods you may use to curb coprophagia;
i) Make waste unpleasant
This is one of the most effective ways of dealing with coprophagia, especially in young puppies. Most puppies may end up eating poop as they experiment with things as they grow. By making poop look or smell nasty, you will be keeping your puppy away completely.
However, as mentioned earlier, it is important to investigate and find out why he is doing so. If your pup is eating his own poop, you can get some additives to his food. This will make him eliminate undesirable wastes and thus solving coprophagia.
If he is eating other animal’s poop around your home, you may make the poop unpleasant as well. There are additives you can add to the waste to give it a foul smell.
ii) Clean after your dog
Now we have talked about neglect and how it can encourage coprophagia in dogs. It is important to keep your dog in a clean place, and also remove his waste often. Having a feeding time is essential as it gives you a rough estimate of the poop time.
Most experts recommend feeding our dogs twice a day, in the exemption of young puppies. Dogs are likely to poop 15-30 minutes after feeding. This means that you should fix a feeding schedule that is respective to your schedule.
For instance, if you always have to go to work every morning, you should schedule your dog’s feeding time. This way, you can go about your business knowing that he is not stuck with his poop at home. If your pup is eating cat poop, you should consider keeping him away from it completely. You can be able to do this by restricting certain areas during training.
iii) Avoid punishing him
Dogs are probably the most obedient animals in the world, and they hate annoying their masters. For this reason, he knows he is going to be in trouble for soiling his master’s place. And so he will eat his poop to erase any evidence that he did it.
Dogs are connected to their masters and they can feel your body language. When you scold your dog for accidentally soiling your house, you might be encouraging coprophagia. Instead, you should consider training him once more until he figures it out.
It is also important to check for dementia when your dog does this severally.
iv) More exercise
This is a common solution to most behavioral issues in dogs, especially coprophagia from boredom. As listed above, boredom can also cause your dog to engage in coprophagia when he has nothing to do. When your dog is exercised, especially in the mornings and evenings, it is unlikely for him to get bored.
This is because, after every exercise or play session, he has already used up all the energy. He will probably slide into some relaxing nap to kill time and also rest. You should also teach your dog how to be alone as well as get him toys.
Rotating toys are great for keeping your dog occupied as you go on your business every day.
Training will solve just about any behavioral vice in pets, mostly dogs. Domestication requires us to train our dogs so that we can have a mutual understanding of each other. It is the reason we have been able to live with pets for this long.
Training your dog to use the potty so you can be able to eliminate his waste easily cannot be that difficult. However, as a dog owner, you should remain calm even when he is not getting it. Approach dog training from a friendly point of view.
This means that you have to show your engagement and dedication to dog training. This is because we do not have a common language with our dogs and yet we want to understand them so bad. You should be able to teach your dog a few tricks that will help you control behavior.
For instance, it could be helpful if we train our dogs a few phrases to be able to stop them from eating poop. The command ‘leave it’ or ‘stop’ could actually be helpful to communicate with your dog.
Coprophagia is usually harmless but if your dog’s behavior is accompanied by vomiting, you should consult your vet. It is rare for coprophagia to cause serious health problems in dogs but also check for parasitic infections. It should not take long before your dog stops indulging in gross behavior.