How to stop my dog from eating poop
Poop eating is a nasty behavior. What could be the reason, and how can we adjust it?
It understandably grosses us out. We have known owners that rehome their dogs for the reason of poop eating.
The scientific name of this behavior is Coprophagia. There are behavioral and physiological reasons for dogs to eat their feces.
Poop Eating Is Normal for Dogs and Puppies
Studies have shown that eating of fresh stools when living in nature is for the reason to protect members of the pack from intestinal parasites present in feces that could occasionally be dropped in the den/rest area. So the behavior could partially be caused by instinct.
For some dogs or puppies it might be a normal way of obtaining important nutrients or being overly hungry. It seems to be a normal, natural behavior for dogs. Take a look at the mother dog’s behavior. She licks her puppies to trigger them to eliminate, and cleans up their feces by eating it, for about the first three weeks of the puppies’ life.
One other reason we have found is that YOU scoop up the poop, cleaning the yard or kennel run, and the dog is observing you “playing” with his poop! – and interest is created. To avoid that possibility, do not have him around when you scoop!
How to Stop Your Dog From Eating Poop
The most successful way to stop the problem is through actual training and keeping the environment clean. All other suggestions (supply enzyme, supply “stop eating poop” supplements, changing diet) have not proven to us to be very effective.
Have your dog on a leash, or remote collar (if he has been well trained with it!) and provide negative consequences either electronically of mechanically as soon as he is interested in poop.
It should always be our main concern not to only provide negative consequences to a bad behavior, but to provide positive consequences for good behavior.
A behavior is punished and stops. Now a different behavior is present. Yes, stopping one behavior leads to a different one. It is a behavior NOT to eat poop. No matter what that behavior looks like. After he is punished for being interested in poop, we suggest you provide lots of treats! You just depressed the interest in poop, so now the interest in treats will increase. After going to the bathroom, and being punished if interested in poop, he gets rewarded for it.
We have to be solidly be aware of the fact that stopping-/or not even doing an unwanted behavior has to be rewarded.
After a few punishments he might then not even make an attempt to eat his poop. He might run straight to you to pick up his treat!
A great example of stopping a behavior and thinking that “now he is not doing anything”:
We were conducting a private dog training session at the park with the owner of a Chihuahua that would bark at any dog and person coming in sight. The Chihuahua had previously been conditioned to the clicker. The owner was clicking and treating royally every time his dog would stop barking. After 30 minutes the dog did NOT bark at a person coming in sight from around the vehicle…..! I told the owner to click and treat at that moment, and asked afterwards, why he didn’t click?
He answered, because my dog didn’t do anything!
Oh God, exactly my point. He didn’t even bark at the person! Problem solved.
Please do not miss to reinforce once the undesired behavior disappeared.