Eating Poop is So Not the Sh!#, but Sparky Doesn't Understand This
How frustrating! You feed your beloved dog some pretty expensive and high quality dog food, yet she still eats her own poop. Now this may seem "So Gross" to us Humans, but to Dogs, it's simply instinctual.
Why Dogs Eat Poop
Before dogs became our domesticated fur-family, they were scavengers and pack animals. They lived off of whatever they could scavenge, such as the feces of other animals (including other dogs). So it's instinctual and a part of their history.
When a mother wolf has her puppies, she will actually eat their poop to keep their den clean. So in essence, your dog is instinctually also just trying to keep her den (aka your house and your yard) clean.
Speaking of puppies, like babies, puppies put everything in their mouths. This is one way they learn things. So if your puppy is eating poop, don't freak out about it. It's a learning experience for them and they will probably grow out of it.
Another reason is dominance. Submissive dogs will sometimes eat the poop of their more dominant pack members. It can be seen as their job, their honor to do so. Our male Homer is the dominant one out of our bunch. I've never seen Homer eat poop, but I always catch Hera, the more submissive of the two eating poop.
Your Dog May Be Bored our Crying out for Attention
Dogs poop. They are bored, they see poop, they smell poop, so they eat it. It's not taboo to them. If they are bored while you are gone at work all day, try putting some treats in a Kong Ball and freezing it over night. Give it to your dog when you head off to work and your dog will have a field day with this delicious, time consuming past time.
Negative attention is better than no attention. Like human kids and teenagers, dogs will act out when they are not getting attention. Part of this behavior can be eating their own poop. So be proactive.
Your Dog May Be Sick!
Your dog may be eating his poop because he is sick. Or he may be eating other dog's poop because the other dog is sick. Try to rule out if your dog is sick first. It's instinctual for a dog to eat the sick dog's poop to protect the weak, so that other predators won't come get them.
Maybe Your Dog is Just That Hungry
Maybe your dog is just so damn hungry that she is eating her own poop. You can try to feed her more frequently and see if this does the trick.
Many Times the Dog's Poop Just Tastes Really Good To Them
Gross huh! But not really, it's props to you as their human for giving them such great food. ;) Many dogs love poop! It's their nature to do so, so please don't punish them for being themselves.
Definitely DO NOT do This:
There are many ways to help with your dog eating poop, but here are some of the things that you should absolutely not do. You may think that these help, but they are definitely counterproductive and some are simply kind of mean to your "best friend".
Wee Wee Pads Can Actually Lead to Dogs Eating Their Own Poop!
What!?! Seriously, you spent all that money on a wee wee pad for Fido while he is inside all day while you are at work.
When the dog goes on their pad, they go and eat their own poop because they instinctively want to keep their den clean. Wee Wee pads in many cases that is far away from the living quarters, it will make him much more likely eat their poop.
Don't Pick It Up Right Away
When your dog goes number 2 outside, don't go clean it up right away. This sends the wrong signal to the dog. Poop is kind of a big thing to dogs. When they poop and you immediately go to pick it up with a pooper scooper, your dog may see "Wow, my human is going to get my poop. My poop must be great stuff" and they can now see it as a scarce resource (since you are collecting it right away) and "present" for their human/master.
Well, I need to pick up my dog's poop eventually! Yes you do! But rather than doing it right away, wait till your dog is not around watching you do it.
What if I'm on a Walk With My Dog and He Goes? I'm Obligated to Pick It Up!
Yes and thank you! Please do pick your dog's poop up, but don't rush to do it and make a big fuss out of it. Try to distract your dog, and nonchalantly go over and pick it up. Again, if you go grab it right away, your dog is interpreting that as "Whoa buddy, my poop is amazing and my master wants it! Everybody must want it. I never realized my poop was so amazing!" and then it becomes that scare resource to your dog.
Fail! Crazy "Remedies" That Just Don't Work
There have been some crazy ideas to make your dog stop eating poop. We had this issue with our English Bull Terrier female, Hera. True Story: she would literally poop and turn around, mid-poop mind you, and start eating her poop while she was still going. Sounds gross right?! But for dogs, it is not.
Muy Caliente! (aka Very Hot!)
When Hera first started doing eating her poop, we added so many things to her diet to try to prevent this. We bought so many things that we would sprinkle on her food that was supposed to make her poop taste bad to her, but I swear she only loved it more! We sprinkled hot sauce and spicy red chili pepper on her feces in the backyard to try to "teach her" to not eat her poop, or else it would taste too spicy. Well, this is where we learned Hera loves spicy food! Needless to say, this didn't work.
Shock Collars - Shockingly Does Not Work!
I remember telling a neighbor about our issue, and they suggested using a shock collar to zap her when we saw her eating poop. It's called classic conditioning. The idea is that you condition your dog to perform or refrain from a certain behavior or action with pain or pleasure, and then it becomes automatic. However, the issue in this type incident is that your dog cannot understand English or what you are thinking. He only knows that when he poops, he's going to get a shock.
I'm not a fan of shock collars, I think it confuses the dog and just makes them fearful. However, we were desperate to get Hera to stop eating her crap. I reached out to a vet regarding this suggestion and voiced my concerns over it and asked what else could be done. He said the shock collar was definitely not a good idea.
You zap your dog when he eats the poop and yes, the first few times it will work, but then your dog is conditioned to think that when he poops, he will immediately be punished, so he will learn to jump back (or something similar in protective mode) right after he poops to avoid or brace himself for the pain, but then later on, he will come back and eat the poop.
Now We Know the Why, but What is the How? How do I Get My Dog to Stop Eating Poop?
There are a few things you can do to help prevent your dog from eating her own poop.
- Increase Your Dog's Fiber Intake. Add things like pumpkin, zuchhini to their food. The taste on the other end is not good at all.
- Organic Apple Cider Vinegar - For
- For every 30 pounds that your dog weighs, add a teaspoon of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar to their food. My dog's love this.
Change up their Food: Raw or Whole Food Food Diet?
The pet product companies push dry and wet dog foods on us. However, most of these dog foods are not really good for our dogs. A lot of them are filled with bi-products and fillers. Next time you buy your dog's food, check and see what the first three ingredients are. That will be an eye-opener for you.
Despite what pet food marketing departments would have us believe, most of the commercial foods available today are not a good fit for our dogs. They are just not biologically appropriate. Coprophagia (the official term for eating poop) is usually a symptom of a daily diet that’s out of whack with nature. In other words, dogs that eat poop do so mostly because they’ve got a nutritional imbalance. That’s really what it boils down to.
Not only are dogs not getting the right nutrients, they are getting things they aren’t supposed to eat! Your dog’s ancestors never ate wheat, soy beans, corn or cow’s milk in their lifetimes. Nowadays it’s difficult to find dog food that doesn’t use one or more of these foods as a base ingredient.
Raw Food? I can hear the uproar now. There is so much debate regarding the Raw Dog Food Diet. A main argument for the Raw Food Diet is that dogs are descendants of wolves and are meant to eat raw meat. However, a defense to that point is that dogs are more closely related to each other than wolves. Dogs and wolves evolved from a common ancestor between 11,000 and 34,000 years ago, according to new research. I found a lot of research trying to debunk the claim that dogs are descendants of wolves. But you know what I say...who cares.
What's the point in arguing about this when both sides are sincerely just interested in the well being of their dog. I don't think there is a one-size fits all or one-way to do something. Look at us humans and all of our diets. Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Atkins Diet, Ketogenic Diet, etc. A person may swear up and down that a certain diet is working for them and who cares. It's great it works for them. Different strokes for different folks...different foods for different broods. Do what works for your dog. Experiment. But definitely hit up your Vet too and ask his/her opinion.
Please do not feed your dog onions, grapes, or raisins. Ok I got that in there. Carrying on now...
I switched my own dog to a whole food diet six years ago because of her skin problems and I will never go back to anything else. I really couldn’t believe the changes in their appearance, their comfort and their overall health. The diet I use for them is 1/2 protein (scrambled eggs, raw ground beef, cooked chicken), a scoop of gluten free brown rice, fruit, and veggies. And I usually squirt some coconut oil and a tiny bit of Apple Cider Vinegar on their food. It works for them so I'll continue to do it. Figure out what works for you and your dog. There are so many resources out there to help you and I'll continue to do some research on this, but in the end no one is right and everyone is right.
That's a wrap.