How to Stop Dogs Eating Dog Poop

Dog Coprophagia – It’s Not Just Disgusting, It’s a Health Risk

How To Stop Dogs Eating Dog Poop


One thing’s for sure – this is a behavioral problem that nobody ignores. It’s hard to stomach being social with a dog who’s been caught eating dog poop.

Coprophagia (yes, there’s a word that means “eating poop”) is more common in puppies, but any dog can pick up the habit. Sadly, it’s not one of the best-understood behavior problems in the dog world. However, there have been plenty of successful techniques developed over the years to make it stop.

Why Are Your Dogs Eating Dog Poop?

(Or any other poop, for that matter…)

We know more about how to stop dogs eating poop than why it’s done, but there are two basic, broad categories of causes:

  1. Part of a larger set of behavior problems.
  2. Symptom of a medical problem.

In either case, a trip to the veterinarian is probably in order. If your dog might already have a medical problem that leads to eating poop, obviously that needs solving. If they don’t, well, eating poop is likely to lead to a medical problem. At the very least, make sure your dog’s vaccinations and anti-worm treatments are current, because coprophagia is one of the fastest ways to getting worms and other diseases that thrive in feces.


More Specific Reasons Why Dogs are Eating Poop

  • Extremely high quality foods can make them like the taste of the poop.
  • Over feeding results in food not being fully digested. The poop still smells like food.
  • Under feeding makes poop a viable source of nutrients if there’s nothing else to scavenge.
  • Some medical conditions, and some medicines, affect the sense of taste and smell.
  • Mental health problems including severe boredom.
  • Nutritional deficiencies which can be offset by eating waste.
  • Inappropriate levels of punishment, or unclear punishment, during house training. This can make puppies eat their messes to avoid future punishment.
  • The owner is not cleaning up the poop in the yard, so the dog is doing it.
  • Learned the behavior after watching another dog eating poop. It may have been a wild dog; alternately, mama-dogs will eat poop if “the litter’s litter” isn’t cleaned away by a human. (Puppy poop is a signal to predators of easy prey, so the mama is doing it to protect the puppies.)
  • Defending his pack (similar to the mama defending her babies), a dog might eat a sick dog’s poop. The smell of sickness attracts predators in the wild seeking easy prey.

How To Stop Dogs Eating Dog Poop


First off – don’t punish this behavior. If you didn’t read the above, just know that eating dog poop is usually either a matter of being confused or anxious about their food source, doing a job for their pack, or a symptom of some physical or mental health problem. So, it makes no sense to punish any of the most likely causes.

Now, on to the ways that are effective to stop dogs eating dog poop:

  • Correct their diet; don’t overfeed, don’t underfeed, and don’t feed them high fat content.
  • Make sure you’re feeding them the best dog food – your veterinarian might be able to help.
  • Make sure you are cleaning up poop as often as possible.
  • Give your dog toys. (It’s possible your dog doesn’t like the types of toys they have.)
  • Make sure your dog has enough exercise to fight boredom, and enough social play time with you to fight low self-worth.
  • Rely on your obedience training and establish the “leave it” command phrase. In a healthy relationship between dog and his human alpha, this will solve the symptom pretty quickly. (But make sure you solve the root causes as well!)
  • Add a small amount of pineapple to their meals. Digested pineapple is a huge turn-off for dogs. There are other foods that will give the same effect.
  • Make sure to reward your dog for ignoring their poop.
  • Train for an alternate behavior every time you see your dog eating poop, sniffing at it, or hovering near it. Telling him to come is one method, but what about when you aren’t there? Distracting them with a toy might be better. Whatever you choose, be consistent and use lots of repetition, so that you train them to decide “no, I won’t eat poop, I’ll play with my ball.”
  • Pet stores sell products designed to stop dogs eating dog poop.
  • Go behind (ha ha, behind) your dog and put a hot sauce or hot peppers inside your dog’s poop.
  • Use a muzzle when your dog is in public places to avoid teaching the habit to other dogs.
  • For additional advice, there’s a section about coprophagia in “Secrets of a Professional Dog Trainer.” Much of this advice I’m giving you here, came from that book.

In Conclusion


No doubt that if your dog’s eating dog poop, you’ll choose more than one of the above methods in order to deal with the problem as quickly as possible. Just remember to be consistent, and also remember not to overdo it. Too much training, too many kinds of training at the same time, and allowing yourself to give off too much sign of stress during training – all those will reduce the effectiveness of any kind of training.

And, although I hardly think this needs to be said, start working on your solutions as soon as you discover that your dog is eating poop. Everything dogs do, eventually becomes a habit.

Last but not least, be encouraged that most dogs stop eating poop all on their own without training. No harm helping the process along, though!

Go to training a dog at home or back to>dealing with behavior problems.

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