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In a study that included information from nearly 1,500 pet owners with dogs that had been seen eating feces daily or weekly at least 10 times. About 10% of the dogs ate only their own stool, whereas 32% ate the feces of others, and nearly half of all dogs who ate feces didn’t care who it belonged to.
The behavior does not reflect poor den sanitation: 82% of dogs in the survey almost never soiled their own house. I first noticed something was amiss when Mischief, my youngest dog, didn’t come in after her last potty break of the night.
The technical term for poop-eating behavior is coprophagia, and disgusting as it is to us, it is a normal behavior for dogs. All that said, coprophagia is not a behavior most of us will tolerate in their companion dogs. The more your dog practices any behavior, be it eating fecal matter or sitting politely to greet guests, the better the dog gets at that behavior.
Since there were still likely to be some poop hidden under the fresh snow, I also needed a way to prevent Mischief from gobbling up anything new she found. Since my goal is for her to be responsible without my help, I jackpot her with several pieces of this food and lots of praise any time she chooses to pass a pile of poop without my prompting. If you need little extra help solving a tough poop-eating problem with your dog, don’t be afraid to call in an expert. Your dog might be eating cat poop or other animal poop to get key nutrients and minerals not available in his own food. When I called her, she took a couple quick, habitual steps in my direction, then darted back to swallow something in the snow before running in.


This means that if your dog eats poop and you want them to stop, preventing them from “practicing” that poop-eating behavior is of vital importance. This was difficult, as nearly a foot of freshly fallen snow meant it was difficult for me to find old piles, but easy for Mischief with her talented nose.
While there are several food additives on the market that claim to make the dog’s poop unappetizing, these options were not available to me due to Layla’s severe allergies. I reviewed it with her, setting out toys and treats, so that I could make sure her self control was where it needed to be. We didn’t bother to practice stationary leave-its (where the dog is sitting or lying down before the distraction appears), since these didn’t have anything to do with the real-life situation she’d be placed in. She wears her muzzle if she’s going to be off-leash or if I can’t completely supervise her.
Over time, I will start allowing her to go out on a long leash while I supervise from the doorway, and then gradually progress to allowing her off-leash freedom again. And as anyone who has ever had to clean up a mess of the sort Mischief presented me with the other night can attest, it’s well worth the effort to stop this behavior in its tracks.
This is most likely if your dog is confined to a crate or kennel, or when he's chained up or otherwise restricted. This can happen when dog food is low quality and includes materials that are easily passed and not absorbed by your dog.
Many dog owners get very upset when their dog eats poop, which means the dog gets attention. Your dog might be more submissive than other dogs, resulting in strange poop eating behavior.


If you only feed your dog once per day, and your dog eats poop, it could be an indication they want to eat more frequently. Wild canids would eat human refuse outside of settlements, and over time these animals came to resemble our domestic dogs more and more. If your dog has allergies, as one of mine does, the undigested remnants of allergens in the poop of animals fed certain diets can trigger an allergic reaction. If you go this route, it’s important to treat every dog in the household, or the offending dog will learn to just keep trying in order to find an unadulterated pile to munch on. Your dog observes you and learns from you, by putting the poop in his mouth you put poop in a bag. This is a wonderful opportunity for your dog to interact with you, although it is because of negative attention.
This seems to occur more in households with multiple dogs where dominance and submission is a factor. There does not seem to be any effective way to stop a dog from eating their own or other pet's poop, other than immediately cleaning up any feces, keeping litter boxes spotless (as dogs do eat cat poop too).
Dogs like poop, and their digestive systems are designed in such a way that they can often gain nutrition from the waste products of other animals.



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