Puppy Eating Poop, Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

by Scott Schuette
(MI )

Why do Dogs Eat Poop?

I have a puppy eating poop issue. My puppy is starting to eat its poop. She was not doing this when we brought her home. Now, 2 weeks later, the dog seems to be eating its poop. My wife cannot handle this!

Our Response

I’m sorry that you are having this problem it can be quite upsetting for you and your puppy. This is actually quite a common problem and is referred to as Coprophagia. Always speak to a Vet as this problem might be a symptom of a medical problem. Below is a list of the reasons why a puppy might start eating poop.

Why do Dogs Eat Poop?

1. A puppy might start eating his own poop as a way to clean the area where he or she is sleeping. For example if your puppy is sleeping in a Crate and it has not been cleaned then he might choose to eat the poop as a way to clean the sleeping area.

2. Coprophagia can sometimes occur when a dog or puppy is not being provided with enough food.

3. If your dog has worms this can leave your puppy needing more nutrients. Due to the parasites sucking all of the nutrients out of your puppy’s system this will leave the puppy needing to find more food as well as the food that you feed him.

4. Poop eating might start because a puppy is not being provided with a good diet and the right amount of minerals and vitamins in the dog food.

5. If a dog or puppy has become bored this is another reason why your pooch might develop this problem.

6. If your puppy has been having accidents around the House and you have been shouting or punishing him for doing this he might start eating the poop as a way to hide it so that you don’t shout at him.

7. In older dogs poop eating might start as the Mother’s instinct is to hide the poop from predators – this goes back to when dogs were in the wild.

8. If your puppy has seen other dogs eating their poop they might start to copy this behavior.

9. Another reason for this behavior to start is through allelomimetic learning this is when a dog or puppy copy’s your behavior. For example when you pick up the poop and put it in a scoop or bag then the puppy will copy this by putting it in his mouth (as he or she will not have a bag).

10. Bored, lonely and puppies experiencing separation anxiety can increase the likelihood of your dog or puppy starting this behavior. Leave your pooch with lots of toys – you can also purchase a ‘Kong’ this is where a bone can be filled with some food – the process of trying to get at the food will stimulate him, stop him from becoming bored and decrease the likelihood of him eating poop.

11. Some dogs and puppies just like the taste of their own poop. This may sound very strange but the poop is soft, moist and easy to digest – similar to moist dog food.

12. The problem might occur as way to get your attention. If you think about it any behavior that gets attention from you can increase and reinforce the negative behavior and increase the likelihood of it happening again.

13. If you only feed your puppy once a day this might not be enough for your dog or puppy and by eating the poop this is a way of getting an extra meal.

14. Remember that the puppy senses are much more sensitive than humans. A puppy will explore his environment through smell, sound and taste. Consequently a puppy might start eating poop as a way to explore his immediate environment.

15. In some cases poop eating starts because the puppy sees it as a novelty and new experience.

How to Stop Dogs and Puppies from Eating Poop.

1. Start by rewarding positive behavior and ignore negative behavior. Do not punish your puppy when he eats his poop as he won’t understand you and the very act of giving your puppy so much attention might reinforce the behavior and increase it happening in the future.

2. Feed your puppy more often than once a day.

3. Seek medical advice as there might be a reason why your dog or puppy is doing it.

4. Some Pet Stores sell products to help cure the problem (check with the vet). Popular products include Forbid and Deter – link below.

5. Distract your puppy through supervision – as soon as you see your puppy about to eat the poop call him and distract him with a toy or take him outside.

6. Train him with the ‘Leave it’ command – see below.

Leave it Command

1. In one hand have an ordinary treat (straight forward dog biscuit) and in the other have a really favorite and special treat – this is the reward.
2. Open your hand and show the treat to your dog or puppy. As soon as he approaches the treat – close your hand. If after you have closed your hand if your dog starts to walk away give him lots of praise and give him the really special treat (not the ordinary treat). Use a cue like ‘Good Dog’.
3. If your puppy keeps trying to get at the treat – keep your hand closed and ignore him.
4. Practice step one, two and three daily.
5. Keep practicing – your puppy will soon learn not to go for the boring ‘Leave it’ treat and will go immediately for the special treat.
6. Now we need to attach a verbal cue to the training – extend the hand with the ordinary treat – as soon as he goes for it say ‘Leave it’ and then give him the special treat and lots of praise.

Hope this all helps – below are some more links for extra help.