Coprophagia: Why Does My Dog Eat Poo?

dog eats poo

Nobody enjoys talking about it but, if your dog eats poo, it’s important to understand the problem. Our canine companions bring joy and fun to our lives but, let’s be honest, they can have some pretty gross habits.

Don’t worry, because coprophagia is a fairly common problem and – in most cases – an easy one to solve with some basic dog training strategies.

Why Does Your Dog Eat Feces?

Just like many of his behavioral patterns, your dog eats poop because his wild ancestors had to. In the wild, this behavior could mask the presence of vulnerable pups and protect pack members from disease and predators. And if food was scarce, well, dogs have never been too picky about their diet.

Dogs explore the world with their eyes, ears, noses and mouths, and sometimes a sniff isn’t sufficient to tell him what he wants to know. It can result from boredom, anxiety or isolation, or from being confined to a small area. Some dogs simply like to keep their area neat and clean.

If you rescued our pet, especially if he spent his early life in a puppy mill, this behavior is unfortunately very common.

Coprophagia can develop if your pet has a medical problem, including diabetes, thyroid disease or parasites. It may also occur if he’s taking certain medications, if his diet doesn’t meet his nutritional needs or even if he eats too quickly.

Don’t Freak Out if Your Dog Eats Poop

Approximately 25 percent — one in four — dogs eat poop. In multiple-dog homes, that number increases to more than 33 percent.

Unfortunately, some pet owners seriously overreact in response, abandoning their pets at a shelter or requesting to have them euthanized. As a result, many awesome dogs are sacrificed every year over a behavior that can easily be addressed with dog training or veterinary care.

If you notice your dog snacking on waste (his own or that of your other pets), don’t freak out. Instead, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. The first step in dealing with any behavioral issue is to rule out any potential medical problems.

If your vet gives Fido a clean bill of health, it’s time for a little dog training.

How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poo

Start by keeping your pet’s area clean and free of feces. Supervise him while outdoors, to ensure he doesn’t get into anything gross or inappropriate. Also make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation throughout the day. Revisit Fido’s diet too, to ensure that he’s getting all the nutrition he needs.

Finally, to truly solve the problem, deploy the appropriate dog training techniques.

Teach your pet the “come” command, to come to you when called, as well as the “drop it” or “leave it” command. Both of these dog training commands are critical to your pet’s safety and well-being anyway. Never punish your pet or make a big show of cleaning up his waste. Either of these actions can worsen the problem.

Because this is a hot button for many pet owners, consider letting a professional handle your dog’s poop eating problem. The experienced trainers at Innovative K9 Academy understand how this behavior may bother or embarrass you and your family. We use proven methods and positive reinforcement to address this and other behavioral problems you may experience with your pet.

Contact us today to learn more about our professional dog training services and additional insight about why your dog eats poo.