Dogs often do things that leave their owners completely confused. One of those things is eating poop. Why do dogs eat poop? It certainly can’t be appetizing! Here are some answers as to why dogs might engage in this disgusting habit.
Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?
It might be natural for a dog to eat its own feces. Consider the mother dog – when the babies are tiny, they can’t clean themselves, so the mother does it for them. This keeps the environment clean and is perfectly normal. Puppies then learn this behavior from their mother. Some dogs grow out of it, but others will continue to do it even when they are older.
A dog who is suffering from severe malnutrition and hunger might eat anything in sight – food, paper, fabrics, anything. They will even eat poop. So why does a dog that is well-fed eat poop? In some cases, it’s simply because they like how it tastes. Disgusting, yes, but true.
Animals have their own way of dealing with illness, and for dogs that might mean eating things that don’t seem appetizing at all. If your dog is suddenly eating poop when they have never done that before, it’s time to get to the vet.
Fear or stress
Sometimes a dog will eat poop when he’s scared or worried, and it might serve as a way to soothe him. If your dog has ever been punished for using the bathroom somewhere he shouldn’t, he might eat the feces to destroy the “evidence” so he won’t be punished again.
Boredom and confinement
If a dog is bored of his environment, or is in close quarters with his own poop, he might eat it. This is especially true if he is kept in a kennel and rarely has access to the outdoors, or if his feces is near his food bowls.
When to worry about dog eating poop
A dog who eats his own poop is likely going to be just fine, but when the dog eats the poop of others, that could be cause for concern. That’s because intestinal parasites and other things that can make him sick are there in the feces, and when he ingests it, he can become ill. He can also pass those things to humans through his mouth and saliva. Keep everyone safe by washing your hands often, watching over your dog to make sure he doesn’t try to at poop, and taking him to the vet if you see him eating the poop of other dogs.
How to Stop You Dog From Eating Poop
Rule out health problems
First, make sure there is no health issue that is causing your dog to do this. That means going to the veterinarian and having your dog checked out very thoroughly. They might have issues with illness, such as diabetes or intestinal parasites, which are causing them to do this. Once that has all been ruled out, then you are dealing with a behavioral problem, and that can be tough to fix. But there are some options.
Stay calm and do not scold him
Remember that getting angry with your dog or punishing him doesn’t work. You have to tackle the problem through positive means. Start by ensuring your dog has a healthy diet, a clean area in which to eat and plenty of exercise to keep him from getting bored.
Distract your dog from the poop
The moment your dog poops, try to provide a distraction to pull him away from the area. If your dog is well-trained with voice commands, you can tell him to “leave” the moment he is done with his business. Always reward your dog when he walks away and leaves the poop alone!
Make the poop taste bad
You might also try some sneaky methods. For instance, some dogs hate the taste of certain things after they have been digested. Try adding pickles or pineapple into their food. They will wolf it down and probably like the taste, but they will hate the taste of it when it comes out the other end! Some people will lace the poop with hot sauce so that when the dog tries to eat it, they get a nasty shock.
Buy some products
Finally, consider some other over the counter items that might help. Many pet shops have products that are meant just for this purpose, and will make the poop very unappetizing even to the most determined dogs. These products work best for those dogs who have recently started this behavior, as some habits are very tough to break.
Muzzle or behavior training
If all else fails, consider walking your dog with a muzzle on. He can’t eat anything when he has the muzzle, and that will break the habit after a few months. Another option is to take your dog for intense training that will teach him to ignore poop. Most importantly, never punish your dog for eating feces, as this will only backfire. You need to have a positive outlook and plan for your dog in order to make sure this doesn’t happen again.