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How to stop my dog or puppy eating poo

Yuk! Not gonna put a piccy here!

Well, it's a very common problem. Many dogs and puppies eat poo. It's natural! But, it is ok to let them? Does it harm their health? Why do they actually do it?

I mean, why is it when we give our pets a tasty and healthy diet and make sure they don’t get hungry, they go outside and eat rabbit droppings, or horse or sheep or even worse – their own, unmentionables…? Hmm, well, ask ourselves - why do we eat that last tasty morsel of pudding when we know, quite categorically, that we’ve eaten enough already – it’s that one last tiny spoonful….

Well, ok, dogs have a completely different view of food. For a start, they obviously have very different thoughts on what’s tasty and what’s not – yeuk! Could you eat smoked (dog) jerky – or even their normal dog food?

There are so many theories on why dogs eat poop
  • It’s tasty
  • They’re hungry
  • They think it’s nutritious
  • They smell something left over from their dog food
  • They’re suffering from a some mineral deficiency
  • They’re suffering from a clinical problem
  • They’re cleaning up after themselves
  • It’s instinctive

Will we ever know the true answer? Probably not. And does it matter that we don’t know the underlying cause? In this case, usually not. The fundamental thing is that we simply want them to stop it.

In the first instance, and especially if the problem has started suddenly, it’s certainly worthwhile discussing things with your vet, as there can certainly be circumstances where there is an underlying medical problem. Then, once assured that your pet’s ok, we can look at various ways to stop them.

4 steps to fresher breath…..
  • If it’s their own poop they’re eating, then try improving the quality of their food, or using a different brand of the same quality.
  • Also really make sure you keep the garden very clean. Then over time you’ll hopefully notice that the behaviour has faded away.
  • At the same time, use gentle and rewarding methods to teach them to “leave” things (shouting at them doesn’t work – long term!). Start out with very basic training lessons and build up the level of training, so that they really understand that leave means leave in any place at any time.
  • If that doesn’t work, or you need help with leave training, then seek help from a qualified behaviourist or trainer, who uses kind and fair methods, and can help to teach your dog that the behaviour simply isn’t going to bring the expected rewards.

This habit will not go away on it's own. Prevention is a crucial part of the overall work to stop dogs eating poo - and even more so with puppies. Preventing the habit forming in the first place is much easier than diverting a well ingrained habit.

Go to Dog Training Notes | Puppy Training Notes