HELP! My dog eats poo!
The subject of poo eating often pops up in consultations. It is one of those subjects that is often whispered about or owners find it embarrassing that their dog does it!
There are so many factors to consider if your dog is eating poo…. yes, it is very disgusting to think about and talk about especially if your dog likes to lick people afterwards.
First of all it is a very normal aspect of puppy behaviour and will often see it in young puppies or young adolescent dogs. Often the hope is that the puppy will grow out of the behaviour which does sometimes happen but for some dogs it can develop into a habit that stays with them into an adult behaviour.
It can manifest itself in different ways and can vary from eating poo from different sources including their own. I often joke that if rabbit poo came in treat form Duffy would be in absolute heaven!
Although on the surface it can seem like an insignificant behaviour that can be ignored, it can actually be quite a dangerous behaviour to perform. Especially if they like things like horse poo, as if the horses have recently been wormed this can actually be poisonous to dogs. So, it is important to try and stop the behaviour occurring.
It is important to look at diet as what goes in can come out smelling just as nice to your puppy or dog. Plus, if your dog is on a high protein diet they may not have digested the proteins properly and still feel hungry.
A lot of treats have high sugar content so it is worth looking at the back of the packet and see what additives are in both their daily diet as well as the treats they are given. Some treats are very well marketed so it is worth doing a little research to ensure you are happy with the quality of the treats you are giving to your dog.
It can be a really hard behaviour to ignore so can easily become an attention seeking behaviour to perform. It is important to remember even if your dog receives negative attention, to them it is still attention from you so it can be strongly reinforcing them to perform the behaviour.
It is trying to break the habit as quickly as you can so it doesn’t become an ingrained and well-practiced habit. It will take management so the dog does not get a chance to practice the behaviour.
Teach key obedience skills the top ones are – leave it, this way, and teach discrimination tasks where they do not just get to pick things up from the floor.
Another management technique to teach is muzzle training with a closed basket at the bottom so they cannot eat it through the muzzle. As with any equipment a muzzle will need to be slowly introduced to your dog so this one will take a little bit of practice to get them comfortable with the muzzle. However, it is a great way to break the habit occurring.
It is also important to worm your dog regularly if they like to scavenge poo as it often carries parasites and worming reduces the risk of these been transmitted to your puppy or dog.
Supervise them whilst they are outside and during toilet breaks so you can pick up quickly before it gets snaffled. Using a long line can help especially if your puppy or dog is speedy!
It is also worth having a chat with your vet to rule out any medical causes to the behaviour too as there can be medical causes to the behaviour happening.
If you are worried about your dog eating poo please ask any questions that you may have about this habit and how I can help you with your puppy or dog.