Many dog owners will be able to relate to the not-so-lovely phenomenon of their dogs eating poop! While most of the times are dogs are pretty adorable, this is simply not one of those times – but it is a very common behaviour that almost all of us have witnessed at one point or another! So, what are some reasons why our dogs are so keen on these forbidden treats?
It Tastes Good!
Depending on what the animal who produced it was eating, faeces can actually be quite tasty to our dogs! Recycled carbs, particularly in the mess left by herbivores like rabbits, sheep and even cows, can be very appealing to our discerning pups!
Diet & Deficiencies
This isn’t always the case, but if your dog has suddenly started this behaviour then it is well worth investigating. A lack of vitamin B and K is thought to be related to coprophagia – the fancy term for eating poop! If you’re at all concerned, speak to your vet about how to go about ensuring your dog has the correct vitamin and nutrient levels and whether a change in diet is called for.
While eating poop now and then isn’t an unusual dog behaviour, it can sometimes become excessive and problematic due to behavioural issues our dogs are dealing with. Coprophagia is commonly seen in puppy farm dogs and rescues, who were at some point kept in filthy conditions, and dogs who were house trained using punishment-based methods may become anxious about going to the toilet and eat their own mess to clean up the scene of the “crime.”
So, what are some ways we can prevent this from becoming an established behaviour?
If you have any concerns at all about your dog’s health, pop to the vet for a check-up. Even if your dog seems otherwise healthy, a sudden change in behaviour can be an early indicator that something is amiss; a vet check is wise if your dog has suddenly started eating poop when they never did so before!
Monitor Your Dog
If you are walking in places where you know there might be some messes around, considering popping your dog on their lead or even a long line and keeping a close eye on them so you can call them away before they dig in! It can quickly become a difficult habit to break if we leave them to tuck in, particularly if this happens many times in the same places!
Clear Up – Right Away!
If your dog has been eating their own poo or other household dogs’ poo, be sure to clear up in the garden immediately whenever they go. Again, allowing your dog to continue practicing the behaviour is the best way for it to become and established habit – so managing the situation by removing the mess right away is the best way to ensure this doesn’t happen!
Never Scold for Accidents
If your dog makes a mess in the house, never tell them off – this is something we need to address through correct training and management (or an immediate vet check, if your older, house-trained dog is suddenly having accidents at home!). If the behaviour is at all driven by anxiety, scolding your dog will only make the problem worse and cause intense distress in your dog.
Teach good Impulse Control
Where your dog has the ability to leave things unless they are told they can have them. To teach your dog good impulse control why not sign up to one of our impulse control master classes here