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There are several reasons why your puppy or dog might be eating his own poop.
- Boredom / Crying Out for Attention
- Lack of Time with Mum when young
- Protein Deficiency
Although all these reasons for dogs eating poop are common, they can be quite normal behaviour. Our newest puppy, Rupert, when we first got him used to eat his poo regularly. Sometimes it would even before it had finished coming out of his bum. He would be turning round trying to get it. This obviously was a worrying sign for us as Ralph had never done it. We would get up in the morning and there would be poo stains in his bed but no poo. After researching why he ate his poo we were able to prevent him. After a couple of weeks of strict training, he has now stopped eating his poo and goes normally.
If you do not stop your dog from eating his poop then it will become a much bigger problem later in life.
When we first saw Rupert do this, initially we panicked and ran out to stop him. However, we quickly learned that this was not the right way to go about it. When puppies are younger, their mothers normally clean up the poop for them. This helps to keep the Whelping Box nice and clear for the litter. Generally puppies will copy their mothers and that can be a reason why they eat their poop.
With Rupert, we found that it was a mixture of Hunger and lack of Protein in his food. Although he was having 3 meals a day, Rupert was just never full.
To prevent him from eating his poop we made sure that every time he went to the toilet we stood with him. As soon as he pooped, we would be on hand to pick it straight up. We then gave him a treat as a reward for not touching it, even though he didn’t have chance. We continued this process for approximately 2 weeks. He quickly learned that once he had pooped he would then get a treat. Eventually he would just walk away from his poop and come straight to us awaiting his treat.
Secondly, he always seemed hungry. 3 meals of puppy food just wasn’t enough. Once he had grown, we started all smaller Adult biscuits which had higher protein than the puppy biscuits. This helped fill him up between meals. We kept the food brand the same but changed to adult biscuits. By keeping the brand the same, his stool was not disrupted.
Training your puppy to not eat its poop can be a quick process but not a very nice one. Seeing your dog eat poo for the first time can also knock you a little sick. Be patient and calm and you will quickly get the out of the habit.
Some Details as to Why Your Dog Might Eat Its Poop
If your doggie continues to eat its own poop then you may need to consult a dog trainer behaviouralist. Some people recommend seeking the advice of a vet but when we asked they said its behaviour and nothing they can provide.
Lets take a quick look at other reasons;
- Digestion: Puppies that do not digest there food properly will definitely eat there poop. But what does this mean. Some puppies tend to eat the food too quickly. Sometimes without even chewing your dog will swallow the food. This can cause your dogs stool to come out the same way it went in. Making it smell like dinner time and making them want to eat it again. Higher digestive nutrients in the foods can really help slow them down and digest it properly.
- Bored: If you leave your doggie alone for too long in the day, especially as a pup, they will eat it. When puppies are young they require a lot of attention. If you work all day, then you still need to find regular time to go and see them. You need to regularly let them out, walk them and water them.
- Stress and Anxiety: Puppies taken from their mothers too early tend to become stressed. This can leave them not knowing what to do or where they are going. They will also struggle with their new surroundings. Punishing your dog for eating its poop is not the right way to go about things. This can cause more stress. Teach them, treat them and above all else. LOVE THEM!
- Worms: We found that with Ruperts constant hunger, came worms. These affected his digestion and made him hungry all the time. Worms can seriously harm your dog if not treated quickly and correctly. As a Puppy, they should be wormed every 2 weeks until 12 weeks old. Then they should be wormed at least once a month until 2 years old. We have since found out that Rupert was bred at an illegal puppy farm which we didn’t know. This meant he had been mistreated and not looked after at all. Worms were the main problems we have found but 6 months later.
Sometimes, it is just something your puppy or doggie likes to do. There can be no explanation as to why, they just do. They may have a great diet, great exercise and be an active happy doggie. But eating poop can be the norm for them. The only way to stop this it to distract and treat. Distract and Treat. Distract and Treat. Keeping up with this regular occurrence will ensure they stop doing it. If you do not prevent at an early stage then your training will be much more difficult.
How Can I Stop My Doggie Eating His Poop?
- High Quality Food: Puppies require a good source of protein vitamins and lots nutrients to help grow and be healthy. If your puppy struggles to gain wait or has regular watery poops then lack of protein / nutrients could be the main problem. Finding a puppy / dog food that is higher than your current food in protein, minerals, vitamins and other nutrients is a great way to prevent this. Check with your vet if you are wanting to change food if you are unsure.
- Attention: Puppies, like children, need a lot of attention and exercise or they quickly become bored. Boredom is one of the main reasons why dogs will eat their poop.
- Regularly Clean Up: Watch your puppies toilet time, every time. As soon as they start to poop, collect it. This will give them less chance of playing with or eating their poop. Sometimes, you may require a lead to be able to move them away from their poop but this most of the time is not necessary. Encourage and Treat is the best ay of stopping your doggie from eating poop.
- Walking Your Puppy: When walking your dog or your puppy, always use a lead. Not all dog owners pick up their dogs poop after them and by not being on a lead, your dog may eat it. This can be very harmful to your puppy as they could get parasites and contract other illnesses. By being on the lead you can quickly pull the lead to move them away and prevent them picking it up. Again, praise the behaviour with a treat once they have moved away from the poop.
- Rewards: As with all dog training, praising your puppy / dog with treats for good behaviour helps in the long run. Your doggie will quickly learn to stop eating poop and instead want a treat for good behaviour. SUCCESS!
Do Adult Dogs Eat There Own Poop?
All of the above works with puppies as well as adult dogs. Puppies do generally grow out of eating their own poop however, on occasion, they continue into adulthood.
If your dog has never ate its poop and then suddenly starts, go to the vet. It could be a case of weight loss or behavioural problems that have caused this. A case of being sick or diarrhoea is another main reason adult dogs can start. Getting them to stop is much more difficult as adult dogs can be more difficult to train.
If you adult doggie is fit and well, then everything above will work. It just may take a little bit longer. Change food, increase exercise, give them more attention than normal and even treat them just that little bit more. It will definitely help in the long run. The most important factor of all though is clean up immediately. Preventing them from doing it in time will cure them. Prevent and Treat.