Dog Eating Poop - Why and How to Deal with This Bad Behavior
There are many types of poop eaters.
Some dogs only eat their own poop, other dogs love eating cat poop, and some special connoisseurs only enjoy grass-flavored treats, especially from horses and goats. Bird droppings are also a delicacy that is in frequent demand by very many dogs.
If your dog is eating poop, you are definitely not alone.
It is actually a very common thing among dogs. Dogs are not humans, and they think and learn differently than we do. What smells good and what tastes good to them, can be very different from what smells good and tastes good to us.
However, for reasons of cleanliness and health (intestinal parasites), it is generally a good idea to stop your dog from eating poop.
Why Do Dogs Eat Poop
The most common reason for dogs to eat poop from other animals, is simply because they enjoy the taste.
Other reasons include stress, boredom, or nutritional imbalance. When dogs eat their own poop, it is usually because of one of these reasons.
1. Nutritional imbalance.
Stool eating can occur because the dog is lacking certain digestive enzymes or nutrients. When this occurs, the dog will eat his own poop to conserve those much needed elements. Studies have shown that insufficient vitamin B1 can cause poop eating.
Dogs will sometimes eat their own poop to relieve stress. This usually only occurs when the dog is extremely anxious.
This has happened to my Shiba Inu twice, both times at the vet when he was getting his shots. Shiba Sephy is extremely sensitive to handling, and to pain, so vet visits are always a high stress affair.
Different dogs will have different anxieties, fears and stress triggers that may result in stool eating. For example, dogs with extreme separation anxiety may poop, and then eat their own poop when left alone.
If dogs are left alone all day, with very little human contact and very little to do, their only choice for self-entertainment may be to play with and eat their own poop. Imagine if we were cooped up in the house all day with nothing to do, we would go a little bit crazy as well. Think cabin fever and The Shining.
Puppies or young dogs may eat poop out of curiosity. Everything is new to a puppy so he may want to explore and manipulate all that he sees with his mouth, including animal droppings. It is best to train a puppy not to engage in stool eating as early as possible, so that it does not become a habit when he grows up.
5. Helping to clean up the den.
Harsh potty training techniques may cause some dogs or puppies to eat their own poop, in an effort to appease us, or to avoid painful punishment. Some dogs may also see us cleaning up their poop in the house (den), and try to mimic that behavior. This is why many trainers suggest that we do not clean up potty mistakes in front of our dogs.
Stop a Dog from Eating Poop
Here are some common techniques to stop our dog from eating poop -
1. Feed our dog a healthy and balanced diet.
This will keep a dog's digestive system healthy, and provide him with all the nutrients that his body needs. An easy way to provide our dog with a balanced diet, is through high quality kibble.
Make sure the kibble has good protein sources that are from meat, rather than from grains, which are more difficult for our dogs to digest. Stay away from kibble that contains gluten (e.g. wheat gluten). Compared to meat protein, gluten is less nutritionally complete and may contain contaminants.
2. Consistent feeding schedule and supervision during poop time.
A consistent eating schedule will also keep a dog's stool regular. This makes it easier to supervise, and prevent our dog from eating his own poop. Scheduled feedings will also help to prevent overeating and obesity issues down the road.
3. Exercise your dog and keep him busy.
Play fun games with your dog, walk him regularly, and do frequent obedience training sessions. A well-exercised dog is better behaved at home, and less likely to eat poop out of boredom.
4. Keep the environment clean.
If there is no free poop lying about then our dog cannot engage in opportunistic stool eating.
5. Reduce stress.
Try to reduce our own stress and keep our dog relaxed. When we are calm, our dog will have an easier time staying calm as well. This results in a better quality of life for everyone, and will stop stool eating behavior that results from stress.
6. Teach your dog the "Leave-It" command.
Leave-It helps us communicate to our dog, what is acceptable to eat, and what is not. Some common house plants such as oleander, are poisonous to our pets. Some common people food such as onions and chocolates, are also poisonous to our dogs.
7. Make the poop taste bad.
One of the most common ways to stop stool eating, is to make the poop taste bad to our dogs. Some people suggest adding stool deterrent supplements, pumpkin, pineapple, or meat tenderizer to the dog's food.
However, this only works when we have full control of the environment. In addition, it only targets the symptoms of poop eating, rather than addressing the issue at its source.
[Note - Consult the vet first before adding any of these to our dog's food. Adding too much may be bad for a dog, and cause digestive issues. A dog may also be allergic to some of these ingredients.]
Frequently, stool eating starts at puppy-hood as a result of curiosity. Therefore, supervise a puppy early on, and teach him what are acceptable things to eat, and that poop is not an acceptable hors d'œuvre.
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