There are few things more disturbing to pet owners than letting their dog run outside to poop only to end up watching them eat it. All of a sudden, the thought of the dog licking your face becomes a non-starter. The question many dog owners have is why dogs eat poop and how to stop it. It turns out there are a few reasons why they do it, and there are ways to make them stop.
The eating of one's own poop is referred to in scientific fields as "coprophagia." Dogs can be indiscriminate poop eaters, meaning they will consume the feces of other dogs, too. This condition can develop either because of behavior or health issues. It's important to know the reason why your dog is doing this so you can address it properly and develop methods to get them to stop.
Studies on this behavior have found that almost a quarter of dogs engage in this type of behavior, and over half of the dogs that do it are chronic eaters. Some studies suggest the behavior derives from the fact that dogs are natural scavengers and will eat just about anything they find on the ground. This was a method ancestral dogs used to get and recycle needed nutrients to maintain good health.
Dogs typically have a preference for the type of poop they like to eat. Among the favorites are piles that have hardened. Dogs typically don't eat soft or poorly formed feces, instead choosing poop that is hard or has been frozen by cold weather. Pet owners who have dogs that suffer from this condition often refer to the feces as poopsicles.
The feelings of shame in a dog can begin during the house-training period of a young puppy. This is particularly true for dogs that have been trained not to poop in the house by having their nose rubbed in the mess. Veterinarians have observed that the feeling of shame and fear of disapproval from their owners is one reason why some dogs will clean up their mess orally after they have made it.
Certain stress and environmental factors have been identified as potential causes for dogs to eat poop. The factors include:
Your dog could be suffering from health problems, and eating poop is a way of alleviating them. There are several health issues that lead to this behavior:
There are a few things you can do to train your dog to stop eating poop. One of the best ways is to clean up the poop right after it goes to the bathroom, so there's nothing on the ground to eat. If you have cats, you should put the litter box in a place where the dog cannot get at it. Another method is to keep treats in your pocket so the dog will come to you right after they poop instead of paying attention to what is on the ground.
As stated, one of the reasons dogs will eat poop is to ingest the nutrients in it. If you supplement the diet with nutrients, it will have less reason to search for other sources. There are a couple of supplements you can use.
Obviously, a dog that eats poop doesn't mind the taste too much. You should add ingredients onto the poop to change its mindset. For example, put hot sauce or some other disagreeable tasting substance onto the fresh pile. In time, your dog will learn to avoid the poop instead of eating it.
Another method to control your dog's poop-eating behavior is to always take it outside on a leash until it poops in the backyard. Once it poops, pull the dog away and tie it up while you clean up the mess to remove the temptation. You can let the dog run free once the mess is cleaned up.
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