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5 Reasons Why 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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{ 125 comments… add one }
  • Dorkel February 11, 2016, 10:20 pm

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  • Jp faddz February 7, 2016, 1:03 pm

    And the puppy continually eats & brings it in from the yard and plays & eats it like it best thing sense dogg food & i wanna break him from that disgusting habit because he brings it up on the furniture and the other 2 olders never had that happen and need few scenarios to break the nasty puppy habit pls if any -1 has any suggestions feel free to write me email or txt me (614) 886-9171 names porkchoppp

  • Brandi January 27, 2016, 3:49 am

    I found in the past that giving your dog pineapple defers them from eating faeces. My Yorkie was eating her puppies poop so he didn’t get in trouble. But she stopped & 2 days ago my dachshund past away & this morning she was eating her poop I wonder if it’s from depression? But I gave her some pineapple we’ll see. It worked for my mom’s German Shepherd that loved eating his poop yuck…

  • Joani January 10, 2016, 3:04 pm

    We have a beagle who never seems to be full….ever…he will ask to go out after eating his food and trying to eat the terriers food…and commence to “cleaning up the yard”…he then chows down on all the poop in the back yard…we clean it regularly but with the snow don’t always see it…he will unbury it and well…you know…if we try to pull him away or stop him he shows his teeth and howls at us like we are taking away his last meal…I find it so disgusting I have avoided him at times…his breath is atrocious…I,m about at my wits end…all the reasons you give are not the reasons he does this….beagles are always hungry…they will literally eat themselves to death….they will eat just about anything…this is a breed of dog I will never get again…he is well cared for and my husband loves him to bits but I can’t find him very endearing when he does this….

  • Tammy January 6, 2016, 8:23 am

    I have a 7 month old teddy bear pomeranian. He has recently started “nibbling” on his poop. He is in a “pen” when we are not at home. It is a big area which includes a kennel that he can go in to sleep, his food and water bowls, a soft comfy bed that he lays in and his puppy pad for going to the bathroom. He pees and poops on the puppy pad but then he takes his poop off the pad and it almost looks like he “breaks it up” on the floor but mostly he puts it in his soft comfy bed WHERE HE LAYS?? I just dont understand. Anyone know a reason for this? If I see the poop on the pad first, I clean it up. But if i am at work or something, i come home to it all over the pen.

  • Mkke December 13, 2015, 3:12 pm

    My dog is half mini pinscher, half Chihuahua. I used to get angry at him when he was younger for using the bathroom inside the house. I believe this is the main reason he eats his poo. As it says in the article, they could be hiding the evidence. He is a really good dog and this only happens when I leave him alone for an extended period of time. I learned not to be angry at him anymore for a lot of situations, because most of them I could have prevented.

  • Darlene December 12, 2015, 9:52 pm

    I have 6 dogs, all of a smaller breed basically chihuahuas ranging from ages 1-14 although that’s counting in ages my mom’s two I’m babysitting as she’s going through cancer so that puts it to 8 dogs at the present. Yes a lot. Now they all have shots and they all are pretty well mannered dogs, I got my last addition my 6th Lil man about 5 months ago and he was displaying signs of coprophagia so I had broken him from it being that I rescued him from a bad environment I assumed that was the reasoning, since then he has been to the vets for several examinations though I never thought to bring it up. But now my middle dog has started hers I think might be because she is the princess of the family and now she has to share yet more of her time plus she’s seen Lil man do it. Now I feed all my dogs Kibble and bits small breed. I also buy pro plan to mix with it because they hate regular brown foid. I feed them wet cedars or Iams in a can lamb not rice just a few table spoons as a treat but they always have a cess to the kibble mixed with either pro plan or Iams and I always buy what fits them like the small breed or I’ll feed the oldest man for senior or healthy joints so I’m asking do you think this might have been aquire from my Lil youngest guy who’s right at about a year because he came from where most likely he had to eat do to make it a meal and my female saw it or does it sound like something else. I’m about 98% sure it’s not health related it’s been a month since my dogs have been to the vets though. But all else and everyone else seem fine any ideas??

  • Deb November 30, 2015, 5:34 am

    I’ve noticed several people posting keep asking for help on what to do when their dog eats poop. You really need to download the free guide this author has graciously offered! The answers are all there and it’s free!

  • June Montgomery November 24, 2015, 12:26 pm

    I have two Shih Tzu’s. One nine and a half, 2nd one is one year old. The older one ate poop at first but started again when the new puppy began eating poop. I now take them out on a leash in different areas but can still see each other. I have had several dogs at one time and even my German Shepherd lived to be 12 years old and others have had long lives so think I do a good job with my dogs. I have read your book and will begin trying your suggestions. First will take poop to Vet before. I begin. They have regular vet appointments and have always been healthy. The Vet is excellent and have been seeing him for eighteen years. He like most vets doesn’t have answer. I use recommended food at age appropiate. Just began feeding them the same food when younger one hit one year about 10 days ago. Eat separately and taken out right afterwards. Pick up poop and dispose it after dropping it. Doing fuss but they started going several times a day. This makes it hard. ????

  • Barack O'Bobo November 12, 2015, 5:31 pm

    Your mom has been eating my dogs poop.

  • Ryan November 8, 2015, 9:43 pm

    These comments are golden

  • Hamish mackie November 4, 2015, 2:15 pm

    I EAT MY DOGS POOOOOP

  • ernie November 4, 2015, 12:09 pm

    My dog eats her poop.
    Help me, it stinks.

  • Cassie October 20, 2015, 10:27 am

    I have a female shih tzu who will be a yes in December. She has developed this habit of eating her poop and I don’t understand why. I he changed her food 3 times and she now is on Science diet which supposed to be better than her previous brands but the habit still persists.. what should I do?

  • anusha August 31, 2015, 3:47 am

    Thank you for the colume will try the different options . Really concerned about my Levi a german shepherd 3months old . He is only on Eukunuba puppy for large breed .

  • tricia fohey June 30, 2015, 8:06 pm

    I have a male and female bichon both age 7,my female does not eat her own stool,but my male bichon will eat hers and his stool. He is a rescue dog we have had for about 4 years.
    I decided to make their dog food when my female started having skin alergies.
    The dog food ingredients are raw gr turkey,raw eggs,aleo vera juices,apples,peas,lima beans,spinach,sweet potatoes, reg potatos,oatmeal mixed all together.
    They have one cup each morning and apple treats through out the day.
    I just dont understand why he does these.

  • Deborah Vanzella June 10, 2015, 1:02 pm

    I need to know why my male dachshund eats my female dachshund poop. They are not related. He does not eat his own poop. He is not undernourished he goes to the vet regularly has his blood work done regularly so I don’t know why he does it. He tries to hide his by pushing the grass over it to cover his. I never ever hit my dogs or put their nose in their poop. I don’t hit them at all. I’ve never had a dog do this.

  • brenda marino May 27, 2015, 7:36 am

    HELP !! I GIVE TABS THAT MAKE HIM DILIKE THE TADTE -BUT ITS NOT WORKING -HELP ##

  • Delaney May 27, 2015, 5:00 am

    i think dogs do eat poop!!!!!

  • Prabu May 25, 2015, 10:29 pm

    I have two St. Bernard pups male and female . Male one z having this habit

  • Aleesha May 14, 2015, 7:52 pm

    my dog loves to eat kangaroo and bird poop.EKKKKKKKKKK

  • madelyn cruzbaez April 17, 2015, 5:56 pm

    Por que los perro comen caca

  • Lauren April 16, 2015, 2:50 am

    My Weimarana eats her poop, she has been sterilised and is currently 4 years old. She’s been eating her poop since she was a puppy and we have tried everything to make her stop but she just won’t! She has anxiety and even when my dad is home all day with her she still does it, she eats well and has lots of toys and we always spend time playing with her but I don’t understand why she still does it.

    If anyone has any advice, please share

  • chris April 3, 2015, 8:28 pm

    That was a very enjoyable read and some great information on Coprophagia. i thought the idea of the stronger dog covering up the weaker dogs smell was especially interesting.
    Thanks a lot

    Chris

  • Uma March 28, 2015, 9:14 am

    Who thinks dogs eating poop is gross p.s it is. I have a shih tzu and she eats her poop. Here’s a soulution: give your dog a treat when they use the bathroom then they know when you see their elemanation you give them a treat wich prevents them from eating their poop. Thank you. Contact me at 479-457-9087 if there is a problem.

  • arf garfarkle March 23, 2015, 7:03 am

    dogs eat poo because they are unhygienic animals

  • Maddie March 17, 2015, 2:01 pm

    I once had a good friend who’s dog ate poop very often. They never really did anything about it, but not because they thought it was harmless or that there was a reason behind it. Come to think of it, I think they were just careless and that’s why they never helped the dog. Anyways, it naturally grossed me out and I had never heard of dogs eating poop before then, so it was quite weird to me. This is good to know and now I understand why dogs do it and how to fix it. I haven’t had an issue with it before, but as someone who prefers to adopt rescues I’m sure it is likely I’ll encounter it at some point. Thank you for sharing!

  • Natalie March 12, 2015, 1:16 pm

    I am Mom to a 15 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback mix, who recently started eating her own poop. She is very healthy and still very active despite her age. We have been feeding her breakfast and dinner since she was born. She has an enormous appetite, that for some strange reason, is getting worse. I walk her on a constant basis, but sometimes she poops in the yard. When I am out there cleaning up, she will eat her remains. I don’t know why she has started this. We have never had a dog with this type of appetite. She is actually at a perfect weight, despite all that she eats. Any thoughts??

  • Vicki March 6, 2015, 5:54 pm

    My puppy just turned 6 weeks. I have had 5 days and I think it is so discussed when she does it.

  • Denise Dennis February 19, 2015, 10:38 pm

    I wanted to know if her eking poop can give human any illness or germs? I wash her mouth out with vinager. And can I get some dog toothpaste or mouthwash? I know human toothpaste can harm her

  • Denise Dennis February 19, 2015, 10:35 pm

    Can it be harness to me if the dogs eat poop? As far a catching something from the dog. I wash my yorkshire mouth with a towel with vinegar, I read on website to xoxo that. Also can I get dog toothpaste ?or something to clean her mouth.

  • Marty February 18, 2015, 3:38 pm

    My alsations bitch picks up her poo and leaves it on the doorstep ?? She doesn’t eat it but hides when we open the door ??

  • samuel February 1, 2015, 4:17 pm

    My dog is 4 months old and he eats his poo and I searched up what does it mean when a dog eats his own poo and it came back that the dog may be suffering with stress.

  • Natalie January 26, 2015, 1:37 pm

    My dog has been eating poop and been getting sick from it its gross

  • Jasmine December 30, 2014, 4:00 pm

    How can I get my dog to stop eating poop?

  • Donnie December 22, 2014, 10:59 am

    Same here as Tabatha, my dog only eat cat’s poop, not other dogs’s poop, would you please give a solution for this?

  • jj December 21, 2014, 9:09 pm

    my dog lives for poo. its a battle to who can get to the poo first nothing will stop it, cyan pepper, shock collars, all i can think of now is a muzzle its a lost cause. although she was a Petland dog we got from an abusive neighbor so most likely as a puppy mill dog she caught on the habit as a puppy. buts that’s just a guess. I NEED HELP any ideas

  • yogesh December 16, 2014, 1:44 am

    My 3 months old German shepherd eats poop …what. I do ..??/?/?????

  • debbie December 9, 2014, 10:28 pm

    My dog don’t eat other dog poop she only eats cat poop why???

  • Tabatha December 2, 2014, 12:33 am

    My dog has been eating cat poop from our cats liter box for a while now. Her breath now always smells like ut and when sje throws up it smells even worse. We cant afford to take her to the vet right now, what should we do?

  • Nicole November 23, 2014, 8:01 am

    We have two dogs one is pretty old and the other one is a lot younger. The older one is eating poop. He does take a lot of meds for arthritis how do we stop her

  • Sue Mountain October 15, 2014, 7:34 am

    I have 4 dogs 2 are 7 , 1 is 3 and 1 is just a year old . The 3 year old eats the poop of the 7 year old dog. He doesn’t touch the other two just the older boy. How can I stop him.

  • jeffrey squier October 1, 2014, 9:35 am

    lucy doesn’t eat her poop but prefers horse,chicken and rabbit why?

  • cathy September 29, 2014, 8:18 pm

    I have three dogs
    1- 8 years old
    2. – 16 months
    3.- 5 months

    the 5 month just started eating poop and the sixteen month may also be doing this. How can we stop it??

  • Lynn Cooper July 12, 2014, 11:39 am

    I have a 7 month old blue nose pit named “KARMA” and she’s been eating poop !!! Hers and my 7 year old pit “LEXI” she gets fed the proper amount of food in fact she’s very healthy and as tall as the 7 year old already for a pup . I don’t understand it it’s so gross because our dogs lick us on the face and I mean they are BIG TIME lickers !! When I catch her I make her wash her own mouth out in the water bowel , then clean it out and put clean water in it . Please I need H E L P !!!! I don’t like poopoo kisses ! :(

  • Skankona Singer June 10, 2014, 9:49 am

    My dog eats his own poop. and any kind of poop he can sink his teeth into……he also likes to bite the dingleberries off his anus…. afterwards,He then ltries to lick my face………..not a chance!…..gross!,,,,one time my neighbor had a party and like ten people barfed into a corner, a big puddle of puke!,,,,,my dog ate all of it……He then ran to the front of the house and started licking my brotther & sisters mouths and faces….nasty mongrel~

  • Frank May 2, 2014, 11:29 am

    We have a pup and he is a poop eater
    I guess one way to look at it is that we
    Done have to clean up after him. He sure
    Likes the stuff let me tell you , now what do
    We do for this mutt . Thank you
    Frank

  • AL Petrides April 26, 2014, 1:34 pm

    I appreciate the information regarding causal factors as to why dogs eat poop. With regards to how to stop a dog from doing so, I submit there are different approaches to dealing with the issue; appropriate for each of the different causes. That said, as a rule, I have had great success with capitalizing on my role as “pack Leader” to resolve this unwanted behavior (absent a medical causal factor) in a “domesticated” pet dog. After research with notable dog trainers (including Cesar Milan; Q & A his web site) this behavior can be trained out of the dog via consistent behavior modification.

    Respectfully, AL Petrides (K-9 Unit Trainer. Sgt., Modesto Police Department, (Retired) Modesto, California.

  • psp April 1, 2014, 9:00 pm

    My dog eats and plays with her pop everywhere when I am gone its normal just let them be its their choice.

  • Cristina March 17, 2014, 5:18 pm

    How can I stop my boxer/pit bull from eating his and the other dogs that I have poop. He is 4 yrs old he has been doing this for the past 3 wks

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