One of the most common approaches that vets suggest for stopping coprophagia is using taste deterrents, or making poop-eating such a horrific experience for your dog that he will think twice before snacking next time. Common deterrents are very sour sprays or liquids that are made especially to be dog deterrents (Grannick’s Bitter Apple, Veterenarian’s Best Bitter Cherry Spray, etc) or hot seasonings / condiments like black pepper or Tabasco.
So is it cruel to give your dog hot sauce?
Actually, no. According to the ASPCA website, it is a perfectly legitimate training method when you’re trying to break your dog of a chewing, licking or eating habit (although you should never put any substance directly on your dog for self-licking issues). They point out that dogs have taste buds, just like humans, that can detect sweet, salty, sour and bitter. It should be noted, however, that some dogs are more responsive to deterrents than others (in fact, some dogs actually LIKE spicy sauces or sour tastes).
When you introduce a deterrent, you should dab or spray some on a tissue or cotton ball and gently put it in your dog’s mouth. Let him taste it, spit it out and sniff it a bit. This introduces the bad flavor and allows him to associate the flavor and scent. If you’re using a spicy deterrent, you should also remove your dog’s access to water for an hour or so, otherwise they will simply wash the bad taste away.
Ideally, when you add hot or bitter substances to dog poop in the yard, the scent will be enough to make your dog avoid it, and eventually break them of the habit.
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photo credit: kim siciliano salem