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5 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Poop

why do dogs eat poop

Like humans, dogs each have their own motives for their individual behavior. Dogs eat poop for various reasons, based on their age, their training, their living conditions and their diet. There are basically 5 different classifications, or reasons that your dog may be eating poop.

PRO TIP: Here’s the most effective way to stop poop eating right away. This super simple method works better than anything else.

Your Dog Was Born to Eat Poop!

Before dogs were domesticated they were scavengers, living off of whatever they could find. Dogs commonly fed on the waste of other animals (and other dogs) thousands of years ago. Poop eating may just be a remnant of dog history.

In certain situations, as with a newborn litter of puppies, eating poop is instinctual and completely normal. A mother with pups is wired to keep her den clean so as not to attract predators with scent cues. Thus, she quite often will clean up after her young by consuming their poop.

For households with multiple dogs there is often a pecking order of dominant and submissive roles. Submissive dogs will sometimes eat the stool of their dominant counterparts.

Dogs Are “A” Students

Dogs pick up things quickly and will often learn things that you don’t want them to. For instance, consider a dog that is punished for a housebreaking accident. If he is punished by having his nose rubbed in poop (which is absolutely not a good way to deal with the problem) he may try to “dispose of the evidence” the next time around.

If you clean up after your dog while he looks on, he may misunderstand your intent and try to copy your actions in some fashion by “picking up after himself”. Your dog might also see other dogs eating poop and learn the behavior from them.

For puppies, eating feces may simply be a learning experience. Puppies learn things by putting nearly everything that comes in front of them in their mouth. Most puppies will develop a distaste for poop in fairly short order. So, if your dog is a puppy, you can relax… chances are that they will change their behavior in due time. Just make sure you keep an eye on things and try to remove waste whenever possible so that your dog doesn’t develop bad habits.

Why You Should Take Your Poop Eating Dog to the Vet

If your dog eats poop, you should make sure it’s not because of a health issue. Some dogs will start eating poop when they aren’t absorbing enough nutrients, they have parasites, or they have issues with their pancreas. All coprophagic dogs should be examined by a veterinarian. Please read my other post on coprophagia and dog health.

Another, rather interesting phenomenon is when multiple dogs are in the same household and one gets sick, the healthy dog will sometimes eat the feces of the unhealthy dog. This may be an instinctual reaction to hide the weaker dog from “predators” much as a mother does with pups (see the section on instinct below).

Why Your Dog Sometimes Prefers Poop to Dog Food

A dog’s digestive system is dependent on a specific mix of enzymes to break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats. There is some evidence that suggests that dog digestive systems haven’t quite caught up to modern diets that include less animal protein and far more carbohydrates and plant proteins. Some veterinary nutritionists have suggested that dogs eat stool to replenish enzymes so that they are better prepared to digest their food.

There is also evidence that dogs that aren’t getting enough of certain nutrients will resort to eating poop. A lack of vitamin B is often said to be a cause of coprophagia.

Another common theory is that overfeeding a dog can lead to coprophagia. A dog that is overfed can’t absorb all of the nutrients in his food, and thus may try to “recycle” his nutrient rich waste.

Neglectful Parents

In many cases, a dog’s behavior can be linked directly to the owner’s behavior. Many dogs will eat stool simply for the attention that they get from their owner. Negative attention is still attention, and owners who scold their dogs for the behavior will quite often only reinforce it.

Dogs that are bored and lonely may play with and eat stool as a pastime. And, some dogs may resort to eating stool because they are not getting enough real food. If a dog’s living area is not kept clean, some dogs will resort to their own “housekeeping” efforts by eating stool.

Solving The Problem

Here’s a short video that explains the best way to solve the problem:

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{ 163 comments… add one }
  • Wendy Stubbs September 20, 2016, 2:04 pm

    My five year old jack Russell cross has suddenly started to eat other dog’s poo. He doesn’t eat his own. He’s on chappie which is fish based cos he has a very bad stomach which is aggravated by certain meats such as beef and white bread. I don’t understand why he’s doing this when he’s been fine for most of his life. Any ideas would be appreciated or I’m going to have to get a muzzle.

  • JC September 17, 2016, 6:18 am

    My dog tries every thing just to get his way to have a bite with a soiled dipy. . . & how he go crazy over it and spread the horor all around he went. Then we all shout get out!!! Get out you stinky mut!!!

  • Sam September 5, 2016, 3:30 pm

    My dog Harvey sampled 2 different poops today, I’m not sure if they were human or dog, I wasn’t going to get up close. Either way, he got kid listerine rinsed through his mouth, bad enough he licks his own butt, eating crap is just off limits. Thinking about getting a Tazer….

  • Gino Silva August 29, 2016, 5:15 am

    At the pet store they sell a “treat” that makes the poop not atractive. I dont remember the name but just ask them

  • Lotte August 28, 2016, 9:16 am

    Funny that Malcolm mentions walkers and other people in Spain poo outside. I live in England and I thought that was something that was unique to the Brits. It seems to be everywhere in public parks over here! My dog shows interest in human poo too which is distressing. At least when we go back home (Iceland) we don’t have to deal with this problem.

  • Sue Stretton August 22, 2016, 8:28 am

    My dog doesn’t eat his own poop, it’s when we are out on walks, he doesn’t do it every day either. He’s fed an excellent food. He doesn’t have parasites and has my undivided attention. He’s 12 months old and I have had him 3 months.

  • Yogesh August 20, 2016, 7:12 pm

    It gonna take sooooooooooo looooonnnnngggg time, I think whenever dog tried to eat poop we should make her know that it’s not good by saying Nooo making our sound angrily as they can understand that how we sound when we are angry or happy.

  • Vet tech August 16, 2016, 12:48 am

    A natural way to stop dog poo eating is to give your dog (and other dogs in household) buttermilk. There is also a medicine called forbid that you can put in their food. Call your vet, this shouldn’t have to be an office visit unless your dog is having other issues, and they can order it for you. Check your dog for parasites, pick up all poop in yard, give your dog a high fiber diet and add probiotics. Proviable and/or Synacore are 2 great brands of probiotics and you can get them right online, you don’t need a prescription for it. Hope this helped!

  • Malcolm March August 15, 2016, 1:41 am

    I live in Spain. My dog, and my neighbours dogs, don’t eat dog poo but do eat human poo. Disgusting, I know, but in this part of the world walkers, cyclists, builders often just go to the toilet in the bushes. Is there some reason why human poo is so attractive to dogs, when dog poo isn’t attractive to them. what I can do about it is another matter !

  • nope August 7, 2016, 9:49 am

    nope nope nope Nope NOpe NOPe NOPE NOOOOOOIOOO GOD PLEASE NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNIIIIIIIIIOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  • tom August 4, 2016, 12:26 pm

    I’m sure this would make a good movie…however I don’t have the time. Quit trying to be entertaining and get to the DAMN POINT.

  • Stephanie August 4, 2016, 3:30 am

    I tried everything. NOTHING works so just keep cleaning up the poop and deal with it.

  • Doni Whitley July 29, 2016, 2:02 pm

    Our dog Buddy has only recently started to eat his own poop. I am taking any & all advice offered short of taking him to the vet. We cannot afford to do that at this time.

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