Coprophagia in Dogs
By Samantha Hamilton
Dog coprophagia is the consumption of feces and a problem all dog owners hate. It’s a disgusting behavior that makes no sense. Coprophagia is most common in puppies up to a year old, but can occur at any age. Fortunately, there are many techniques and training methods you can use to correct this habit.
While there are many theories as to why dogs eat poop, they can be broken down into two general groups: canine behavioral problems and underlying medical problems.
If you think it’s a medical problem causing your dog to eat his poop, then a trip to your veterinarian is in order. She can potentially pinpoint the problem for you right away.
If you have a poop-eating puppy, you need to ensure the dog’s vaccinations and worming treatments are up-to-date. Various diseases and internal parasites can be passed from dog to dog through coprophagia.
Common causes of dog coprophagia include:
- It simply tastes good to your dog (disgusting, I know).
- A symptom of anxiety, stress or even boredom.
- Puppies might have a vitamin or mineral deficiency and they eat feces to restore this balance.
- Some dogs have developed coprophagia when put on certain medications or antibiotics.
- If you only feed once a day, some dogs can become very hungry and scavenge around for any food, including poop.
- Overfeeding: If a dog is overfed, he won’t properly digest his food, making his feces smell and taste like his dinner.
- A dog could also develop coprophagia from not having enough space in his kennel or X-pen.
How to Stop Dogs From Eating Poop
Remember that unnecessary punishment or getting angry with your dog doesn’t work for this or any other dog behavior problem. Try these solutions to get your dog to stop eating poop.
- Feed well-balanced and nutritious meals.
- Try feeding twice a day at regular times rather than only once.
- Always keep your dog’s living area clean of feces and provide a few stuffed chew toys to keep him occupied.
- Always be sure your dog has enough space to sleep, eat and eliminate in separate areas. Dogs naturally don’t like to sleep where they eliminate.
- Be sure to adequately exercise and stimulate your dog mentally and physically.
- At your local pet store, you will find various products specifically designed for this problem. Forbid and Deter are products that have proven to help stop dogs from consuming feces.
- Lastly, always reward desired behavior.
Whichever method you try with your dog, be consistent. You must enforce your strategy every time in order to stop your dog from eating his feces. The longer you let this habit establish itself, the harder it will be to break.
One last thing: most dogs do eventually grow out of their poop-eating habit. It might just not be soon enough for you.