5 Reasons Why Dogs Eat Poop

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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.

To go directly to “How To Stop Poop Eating” click here ->

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

There is plenty of coprophagia information on this website to get you started on getting rid of your dog’s habit. It usually takes a specific combination of dietary and behavioral changes and takes quite a bit of experimentation. Of course, if you want to take advantage of my experience and get a guaranteed system, please take a look at my Dog Poop Diet guide.

To go directly to “How To Stop Poop Eating” click here ->

Creative Commons Licensephoto credit: naughty architect

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{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Natalie January 26, 2015 at 1:37 pm

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

Jasmine December 30, 2014 at 4:00 pm

How can I get my dog to stop eating poop?

Donnie December 22, 2014 at 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 at 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 at 1:44 am

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

debbie December 9, 2014 at 10:28 pm

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

Tabatha December 2, 2014 at 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 at 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 at 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 at 9:35 am

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

cathy September 29, 2014 at 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 at 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 at 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 at 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

AL Petrides April 26, 2014 at 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 at 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 at 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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