When you see your dog wagging his tail and running up to you with remnants of poop in his mouth, do you lovingly help him clean up or do you avoid him? If you feel angry enough to punch or kick your dog, you are an example of the opposite.
As a responsible dog owner and companion, it is important to control your emotions when dealing with your dog's poop. Instead of getting angry, take the time to investigate the cause of the behavior. Once you understand the reason behind it, express your attitude in a reasonable manner. If there is a feasible way to correct the behavior, take action.
Next, get the dog poop scooper ready, and let’s explore the truth together.
What is coprophagia?
Coprophagia is the medical term for the behavior of eating feces. This behavior is observed in a wide range of species, including rabbits, rodents, primates, marsupials, rats, and to a lesser extent, pigs, horses, and dogs. It is even observed in humans, although it is extremely rare. While this disorder is uncommon in humans, it is prevalent in dogs and certain other animals.
Fecal eating is not a disease for dogs, but rather a survival and evolutionary imperative. This behavior may seem strange to some, but it is a natural instinct for dogs. They absorb nutrients from feces to aid in their growth. It is important to understand this aspect of their behavior in order to properly care for them.
Why do dogs eat poop?
There has been research and hypotheses as to why dogs eat feces, largely related to their physiological systems and behaviors. The most reliable reasons are:
- Absorption of nutrients from feces
- Because of their health: including pancreatitis, intestinal infections, malabsorption due to food allergies, diabetes, etc.
- Intestinal parasites
- Because of hunger
- Getting the owner's attention, playing tricks
- Because of anxiety, stress, or punishment for bad habits
- Boredom as a pastime
- Cleaning up the environment and the nest
- Camouflaging their scent because of predator avoidance, hunting for food
- Social behavior with companions
These hypotheses are based on observations and experiments that positively correlate with dogs eating poop. If you care about your dog, you can find these observations.
There are also some unsubstantiated assumptions, such as some dogs liking to eat poop. However, one study showed that dogs who eat poop can be house-trained as easily as dogs who do not, suggesting a normal aversion to feces. Dogs that eat feces are more likely to be reported as greedy eaters than those that do not.
However, most hypotheses are not fully supported.
Realities and Coping Strategies
Approximately 23% of dogs experience coprophagia,or poop-eating, and 16% of those dogs engage in this behavior regularly.
If your dog is one of them, it can be a concerning issue. After learning more about coprophagia and your dog, what steps will you take to address this behavior?
How to stop your dog from eating poop?
Proven unsuccessful methods
Methods with successful cases
- Do not feed whole grains, feed raw dog food
- Feed on time and ration
- Pay attention to the nutritional balance and incorporate nutritious but unappetizing foods into its diet. For instance, pumpkin puree, fruit vinegar, probiotics, digestive enzyme supplements, green vegetables, pineapple, citrus fruits, and garlic.
- Add pancreatic enzymes to your dog’s food
Keep the environment stable
Dogs are highly perceptive and sensitive animals. They can easily become anxious due to sudden changes in their environment, which can in turn affect their digestive function and eating habits. This may require restarting the stool elimination treatment.
Train your dog
In daily life, bring your dog with you whenever possible, play with him, and use a leash to keep him away from feces.
Instead of relying on complex command systems, prioritize keeping your dog away from feces and use simple, instinctive commands.
Remain calm, patient, and avoid lashing out at your dog. Remember that he will internalize your reactions, including any instances of him secretly eating his feces.
Clean Dog Poop Anytime
Be prepared to "compete" with your dog for poop with a pooper scooper kit that will clean up as much poop as possible, whenever and wherever possible, without giving your dog access to his poop. You can reduce your workload by training your dog where to poop. For example, pooping in a special dog waste receptacle. Be aware that they can sometimes be crafty and even hide their poop.
Using a citronella spray collar treatment is an effective adjunct treatment that can greatly reduce the number of times the dog poops in the early stages. Reduce your training stress.
Some dogs can be stubborn or mischievous and engage in coprophagic activities to challenge their owners or maintain their habits. With such dogs, it may be necessary to take some corrective measures. Remember, coercive measures should be a last resort. For example, you can use a mask and a special litter box to prevent them from eating feces.
However, it is crucial to have patience and not give up halfway. Maintain control of your emotions to prevent your dog from reacting poorly and undoing your training efforts. Correcting coprophagia can take up to six months, so be patient and consistent in your training. Additionally, it is recommended to prepare a pooper scooper kit in the meantime.
Consult a professional
Learn to consult a professional, you will most likely need their professional advice.
Many people find coprophagia disgusting and worry that it will harm their bond with their dog. However, true love is selfless and tolerant. If you cannot tolerate the behavior, you must recognize this and make a choice. Making the right choice is often the most important thing.