Why Do Dogs Eat Poop??

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by Art, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. Art New Member

    Why do dogs eat poop? I have a male Border Collie that is just superb, I've trained him to do almost anything and everything, from obedience trials, agility and flyball! He excels at everything he does, except that I have this HUGE problem that I CANNOT for the life of me!

    My dog Taz eats poop, his own poop and the poop of my other dogs, it is utterly disgusting! I have tried punishing him by catching him in the act several times by pinpointing the bad behavior with a loud "ARGH!" and giving a shake, I've even resulted to trying a remote shock collar and used it about 10 times while he was eating poop. It didn't work!

    I really have no idea what to do, thus me asking this question on this forum. I am ashamed of it because my dog is just such a wonderful dog and everybody loves him, but I have to tell my friends not to let him kiss them because he eats poop.

    I just cannot tell you how disgusting it is to have a dog come in at night and you can smell poop on his breath. Makes me want to vomit!

    I need help! Please help!

  2. Art New Member

    I should also mention, that I hate using the shock collar, plus it only made him scared of everything, he didn't make the 'connection'.

    He eats very healthy raw food. It's not like he's not well fed, plus I train him constantly so he gets lots of treats. It must be a survival thing, but how do I stop it, and more importantly, why do dogs eat poop???
  3. mewzard Experienced Member

    If he's fed raw i would suggest that its a habit. My girl only ate poop when she was on kibble or had a tin of dog food. It became a habit.

    To stop him i would suggest that you:
    A) Put him on a lead and then take him away after he has done his business, and clean up all poops ASAP - remove his access to it.

    B) Put something in/with his food that makes the poop smell awful coming out the other end. We put mixed dry herbs (say a small teaspoon for 400g of food) mixed in which worked quite well.

    C) as for eating other dogs poop, this can be in part because that poop is 'appetising' to your boy - tinned dog food comes out smelling almost the same and smells very tasty (to the dog!) Cats poo is high in protein which is what dogs like to eat it.
    First off, teach your dog a very strong /leave it/, i would suggest using cheese or ham or boiled chicken as a reward - being raw fed, store treats are not higher value than his dinner! (i know this from experience). then reward him from coming way from the poop with your treats, him being on the lead means that this is easier to do. Use the lead to prevent him access to it and reward for the slightest movement away....that is after he has a solid understanding of /leave it/ around less desirable objects.

    Why do they eat it? I guess at some point one of the poops had something very tasty smelling and that started off a chain reaction that was exacerbated by you telling him off. he got more attention for eating them than not and so on. Also by using a shock collar there is an element of fear now over being caught which fuels the urge to do it quickly as eating the poop is in someway satisfying to him.
    Really preventing him from eating it is the best way to start, we cured our girl in a couple of months by stopping her from accessing it.
    Dogster likes this.
  4. Art New Member

    Thanks Mewzard! I will try my best with A & C, but it's hard in the winter, I'm a bit lazy and don't want to go outside every time my dogs do...

    As for B, do you know which herbs exactly? I've been giving them a bit of kelp with their meal as recommended by the raw food store.
  5. mewzard Experienced Member

    "mixed herbs" Thats what they are sold as...really not 100% whats is in them. They come in a little tub for putting in food dishes - it's a human product incase that wasn't clear!

    For C you can start in inside :


    kikopup has a second one after that too.

    To be honest A is the most important, there isn't a quick fix just like people can't just quit smoking. The other two ideas are to help you along but honestly A is whats going to make your progress quicker...
  6. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Post #10, or "reply #10",
    on the link below, is what i did to cure my poop-eating dog.
    http://www.dogtrickacademy.com/members/forums/threads/chances-3rd-chance.4363/#post-32008
    ^ It wasn't that hard, it just took persistence. My dog got the whole concept of "leave it" very very quickly, and solidly.
    I can now leave a hot steak on the floor,
    tell him "leave it"
    and leave the room, and my dog won't touch the steak. and he hasn't eaten a poop in years and years now. not one.
    his favorite poops were deer poops. He really loved deer poops.:rolleyes:
  7. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    I am SO GLAD you that you have retired the shock collar, i'd throw it away entirely. YAY for you, for noticing, that pain and fear is NOT the way to train dogs. Like you have done so well for your dog's agility and flyball, training your dog involves rewarding what you DO want.

    it's the same for eating poop. You reward the dog for doing what you DO want, which is to ignore the poop. You reward that. Step by step in "reply #10" in link in my last reply above.

    I never added anything to my dog's diet, and there are many many other poops out there, from other dogs,
    from other animals,
    for your dog to munch on,
    so herbs are not the way to go. Plus, anyone can grind up anything, and sell it, no way to know what all impact those mysterious plants could have on your dog's health.

    It'd be safer,
    and easier, to keep your yard spotlessly clean, until he learns the cue "leave it".
    than trying to make his poop have unusual flavors.

    i just rewarded him for learning the cue "leave it".
  8. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //". I am ashamed of it because my dog is just such a wonderful dog and everybody loves him,"//

    your dog is still a wonderful dog. :D He sounds like a very very smart dog, and you sound like a very adept dog trainer, so i bet, you can and WILL successfully cure the whole poop eating thing. It's not that hard, it really isn't, if you just start with teaching a solid "leave it" cue, with something like a piece of bread, and advance along from there. Like i said in that link, you don't want to test out your dog's ability to "leave it" with that irristable poop, til your dog has "leave it" down pat, solid like a rock, first.
    THEN and only THEN, you begin to use "leave it" for a poop. It takes a while, but, it is not that hard to teach, at all.
  9. Art New Member

    Thank you for the replies. My dog does have a pretty strong "Leave It" although I called the command "Let it Go". The problem is that my dog will eat poop only if I am not there or looking, he knows that he is not supposed to do it. I even tried putting a security camera in the backyard so that I could monitor from the house and catch him in the act, which I did about 5 times but he kept on doing it... :/
  10. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    .//" The problem is that my dog will eat poop only if I am not there or looking, "//

    No idea how you taught the cue "let it go"
    but, if a dog only obeys it if you are looking, sometimes, that indicates, the dog was scolded/corrected/mildly punished while being taught what the cue means.........
    instead of
    being rewarded for actually leaving it.

    It makes a difference for some dogs.
    Is no harm in looking at "reply #10" in link above, and reteach the cue alllll over again from scratch, if you are really committed to wanting to eradicate this behavior. This is NOT impossible, it CAN be done.:)




    I have had to do that now and then, reteach a cue all over again from scratch.:rolleyes: You may want to use an entirely new word for it, if you do decide to reteach the cue from scratch. It doesn't take that long.

    //"and catch him in the act, which I did about 5 times but he kept on doing it... :/"//
    ........many dogs find being rewarded for doing the right thing,
    more powerful,
    than being punished for doing wrong thing. The punishment type of teaching, gives you what you have now, a dog who only obeys the cue if you are looking.


    If your dog truly does have a solid "leave it"
    and you can, in your home, put treats down in front of him, tell him "leave it"
    and YOU LEAVE THE ROOM
    and the dog still understands and obeys the cue, even if you are NOT looking at him
    then
    you could then begin doing what i did in reply #10, with the poops, teaching dog "leave it" cue with the poops, it's worth a try.

    A much simpler solution, til you and your dog conquer learning how to teach leave poops alone,
    is,
    spend some cleaning up your yard so it is spotless.
    and going out WITH your dog each time, and keeping it clean,
    til dog really does have a trustworthy "leave it".
    Everytime your dog eats poop, it is sorta/kinda undoing all your other efforts.....so you sorta have to prevent his access to poop til he really can obey the "leave it" cue, whether you are looking or not.
  11. mewzard Experienced Member

    Actually he doesn't - he knows he shouldn't do it infront of you so he doesn't get told off... In my girls puppy class, one of the pups vomited - all of them went running and tried to eat it...Dog's don't have the same idea's about bodily fluids as we do! Bitches eat EVERYTHING that thier puppies produce; poo, placenta's etc ...thie is to ensure the safety of the den.

    Thats human herbs - like you put on pasta or something. They aren't dangerous to dogs. Actually they are good for them. Other herbs like mint are particularly good and appealing to them. Dogs are pretty good at know what they shouldn't eat (as in not required for the body), with the exlusion of grapes and chocolate - which for some reason they are drawn too.
    The idea behind the herbs is to make them hesitate in the eating of it. If the dog goes "ooh poops! ...oh, hang on it smells odd" Art has 3 more seconds to get a /leave it/ cue in there. it's not a permanent fixture either... just long enough to start breaking the habit.

    Oh my other though on this is are you feeding a variety of meat? He could be eating it becuase he need something else and thinks this is the way to go. Many tinned food dogs will eat thier poo as they can digest more from it the 2nd time round - thats why it's huge! (though i expect you know this) ... maybe he just needs a couple of other meats?
  12. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    //"Thats human herbs - like you put on pasta or something. They aren't dangerous to dogs."//

    Oh, i thought you meant that stuff sold in drug stores for humans, which is not regulated and can be absolutely anything at all, and is often dangerous, only pulled off the shelves after enough ppl have died from whatever "wonder herb" is popular this year.

    Nah, i still have doubts if all human herbs or human spices are safe for dogs.

    and even if it WAS safe for all dogs to eat enough spices each day to attempt to make their poop taste weird,

    and even IF having a "new flavor of poop" did cause her dog to stop eating his OWN poop,(?)

    there are poops out there all over......... from other dogs.........bunnies...deers......other dogs....cats.......more other dogs....
    It's not the long term solution.

    it's just not.

    Keeping her yard clean would be both easier, safer, and 100% effective way of getting her dog to stop eating his OWN poop until she teaches "leave it" in a punishment-free way. Every time that dog eats a poop,
    it is sort of UN-doing all her efforts.:( So prevention IS a very good goal.

    I did cure-----100% cure------- my dog of this same exact problem. My dog LOVED poop. Just loved it!
    I did not even attempt to focus on trying to make his own poop "taste weird"... (?)


    Even after Buddy was eating the best diet, and tons of meats, of all varieties,
    top quality meat,
    my dog STILL LOVED EATING POOP. Even if my dog was full, he'd still eat poop.

    It is NOT a dietary deficientcy. It might have started out as one, it might have started out as boredom, but, by now,
    it's just plain ol habit now. She can feed her dog the best meat in the world,
    he'll still eat poop.
  13. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    but i totally agree with Mewzard's remarks about the dog not "knowing he should not eat it". Great point.

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