So you bring home your little pup and they are as cute as a button! It’s time to go potty and once they’re done, they turn around and eat it up! YUCK! As gross as it is to us, it’s quite normal in puppies. But, why do dogs eat poop? And are there ways to make it stop? Let’s find out.
Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?
Coprophagia refers to the act of eating poop. It is often confused as a type of pica in dogs, but coprophagia is a different issue on its own.
There are many reasons why dogs would eat poop. Here are some of them listed below:
1. They Learned It From Their Moms
There is a theory that dogs poop away from their territory to eliminate the chances of parasite infestation in their body.
If you notice stray dogs you will see them practice the same behaviour. They don’t poop where they sleep.
But when it comes to little puppies, they are too small to travel far away to poop. Many parasitic eggs in the poop don’t harm adult dogs but it can harm puppies. So, the mother eats the poop to eliminate all chances of parasitic infections her puppies again.
The problem is, when puppies smell their mother’s mouth, they can catch the scent of their own faecal matter in the mother’s mouth. This gives them mixed signals as puppies and they can learn the habit from their mothers.
2. They Learned It From Other Dogs In The House
Similarly, dogs can learn it from other dogs in their house. There is a theory, that wolves and wild dogs eat their pack member’s poop to eliminate any trail created by their faecal matter.
We aren’t sure if that is why families with more than one dogs, may see this habit in all their dogs. It can just be that one dog, learned it from their canine brothers and sisters.
3. Digestive Problems
Dogs with pancreatic problems, or digestive enzyme deficiencies, will have large chunks of undigested food in their poop. This may cause them to eat their own poop.
4. Deficiencies And Illnesses
Other vitamin and mineral deficiencies may also lead to poop eating behaviours.
Another reason for poop eating may be because of excessive hunger caused by a host of other hormonal problems like Thyroid or diabetes.
5. Harsh Potty Training Methods
Dogs don’t understand the difference between ‘home’ and ‘outside’ when they first come to your house. As a result, they may have a few accidents.
If you scold your dog every time they potty at home, they may think that you are angry at them for pooping. So, as a result, they will eat their poop to get rid of evidence and avoid scoldings.
6. Attention Seeking Behaviour
If your dog is alone for long hours every day and ignored in walks they may start eating poop just to get your attention. To them, bad attention is better than no attention.
Apart from the reasons listed above, anxiety and depression in dogs may also lead to strange behaviours, like eating their own poop.
How Do I Make Them Stop
Many puppies eat poop but as they grow older they grow out of the habit. But unfortunately, 1 in 4 dogs will probably have that behaviour for life.
It’s usually very hard to get rid of the habit once they have become serial poop eaters, but if you are consistent with their training, you can have some control over it.
Here’s how you can stop this nasty habit.
1. Address It Immediately
If you notice them eating their poop, don’t make a fuss out of it because that will lead them to think that eating poop gives them attention. But, as soon as you notice it, you need to address it and ensure that it doesn’t happen for the second time.
Here’s how you can address it:
2. Meet Your Vet
We would suggest booking an appointment with a holistic veterinarian who helps you find out why they are eating poop instead of giving sprays and solutions to deter this behaviour.
Do a simple blood test to check for any nutritional and hormonal deficiencies.
Doctors will give them supplements to address deficiencies, but additionally, you can switch to a premium quality dog food, that is nutritionally balanced to help wean them off their nasty habit.
Your Veterinarian can also check their weight and prescribe a weight and height appropriate feeding schedule.
3. Cleaning On Time
The best way to address the problem is to pick up the poop immediately and throw it in the bin. If you have more than one dog, you must clean up after all dogs to ensure that this habit does not remain in one of the dogs.
4. Teach ‘Leave It’ And ‘Stay’
Of course, in India, where picking dog poop is not mandatory, and where we have many stray dogs, your dog is always going to find poop on the road even if you clean up after them.
In situations like these, you should practice and improve commands like ‘leave it’ and ‘stay’; these are some of the most important commands you should teach your dog.
5. Check For Signs Of Neglect, Anxiety Or Depression
Does your dog have a troubled past? Or do you scold them often and use choke chains, shock collars etc. All these cause pain and may lead to long term psychological problems.
We are always strong advocates for positive reinforcement training. It may take longer to teach them commands but you can trust that they will learn for the long haul.
Secondly, if your dog is doing this only when you talk to other people, or don’t pay attention to them, you need to outline what their day looks like. Are they at home alone for too long? Do you feel too busy to pay attention to your dog? All this can lead to confidence issues and strange attention-seeking behaviours and poop eating is just one of them.
Lots of love and positivity will also reduce the chances of behaviours like coprophagia in dogs.
We hope this article was helpful to you. Does your dog eat poop? What have you done so far to address it? Let us know in the comment section below.