Treating dogs with severe separation anxiety

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Dogs do some pretty crazy things, several of which fall within the "dog being a dog” realm.
While you look on in shock and horror as you watch your dog down a mouthful of poop, you'll get some solace in the fact that you are not alone. In fact, a preliminary study out of the University of California, Davis, found that up to 16 percent of dogs eat feces frequently, with 85 percent of the stool eaters consuming the feces of other dogs.
Although gross, stool eating is generally considered harmless in a healthy dog free of intestinal parasites, especially if he’s eating his own stools that are less than two to three days old, says Benjamin L. However, there is a slight risk your dog could develop an intestinal infection if he already has such an infection and is eating his own stools that are five days or older, which increases the intestinal parasite load. To get this behavior under control, if your dog eats poop frequently and isn’t a puppy or nursing mom, don’t yell at him — and certainly don’t rub his nose in feces, which is inhumane — as this could inadvertently cause him to become compulsive about this behavior, Reid says. You can also add taste deterrents to his diet, as they can make poop less palatable, or apply taste deterrents to feces in your yard, along your walking routes, or even in litterboxes if he’s eating cat poop — better yet, move the litterboxes out of his reach. Yet another strategy is to try distracting your dog — Reid tells of a dog owner who barked at her dog every time she saw her eating feces — and asking him to do something else.
I think that dogs also like to eat poop because it tastes like the food that the dog who pooped ate. Cat feces probably attracts dogs because cat food is higher in protein and fat than dog food, and consequently cat feces is, too. You can often pique a dog’s interest in a specific toy by taking it out, playing with it excitedly by yourself, then putting it away again.


There are some well-accepted behavioral explanations for dogs eating their own stool — not that I know of any research to back them up. Many people muzzle their dogs to prevent poop-eating, but the commonest result is simply a muzzle stained with droppings, which is more than you wanted. As to why some dogs continue the behavior when they’re older, one theory suggests that their diet may be lacking certain nutrients. Consult with your veterinarian before using a deterrent to determine if it’s safe for your dog.
Your guess is as good as mine, as for why dogs like horse and cow manure and goose droppings. Dogs who suffer from malabsorption syndromes, like exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, sometimes eat feces, including their own. Whenever he saw a cat issue Muggsy adored cat poop and used to head for the box at a dead run. Tidy the lawn and clean up the poop so there is nothing poopy for your dog to experiment with. Many cats resist using a covered box or one that’s in a little, enclosed space, especially if a feline housemate likes to pounce on them when they come out.
If the poop-snack habit isn’t well established, it might die away on its own, provided your dog has no additional opportunities to practice it. Unlike humans above the age of two, plenty of dogs just love The Poop, whether it comes from cats, horses, geese, or, most disgustingly to many a proud owner, their own body or their master’s.


Before dogs were dogs, they were wolves, and upon locating human excrement and human garbage, the wolves chowed down. The rationale would be the same one that makes crate training so successful: dogs avoid soiling their nests. Train yourself to hear those little cat feet going scritch scritch scritch, and scoop the poop as soon as kitten’s done. The commercial taste deterrents you feed your dog don’t have any impact on any feces but hers.
Eventually, there evolved an animal like the wolf, except that it was smaller, it hung around folks, and mostly scavenged instead of mostly hunted: The Dog.
Poop, too, may suddenly rise in value to your dog when the result of his own provisional sniff and lick is the fact that you shriek, tug him away, and stash the experimental stuff in a bag. And no matter how much your dog hates it, and which kind of hindrance you use, sooner or later he will find an untreated stash.
And the following time he spots some feces at the dog park, he speeds up the snatch-and-grab, and you melt into a puddle of embarrassment.
Result: poop snacking is on what is technically known as a variable intermittent reinforcement schedule, which is what trainers use whenever they want to produce an extremely persistent, lasting behavior.



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