First it is important to identify why your dog is eating poop – also called stool eating or coprophagia. Understanding why your puppy or dog is eating poop will help you identify the most appropriate strategy for correcting the situation. You can do a quick analysis by going here.
My approach is a holistic approach. By making sure you address all contributing factors to an issue you have the best opportunity to resolve the issue.
Don’t punish your dog as this will not resolve the issue and will create additional problems. Instead work to change your dog’s habits and perhaps some of your habits too.
I recommend that you go through the list below, decide which items apply to your situation and implement changes to help your dog leave the habit behind (pardon the pun).
Clean-up the Poop
Puppy and Dog Poop
Pick up your dog’s poop as soon as he/she eliminates. This is the #1 most effective method to curb the habit dog-poop eating – also known as coprophagia or stool eating. If you have a large property or your yard backs on to a forested make sure you clean the stools from the immediate surround of the house.
Remove Access to Cat Poop
Don’t set your puppy or dog up for failure, set him/her up for success by placing cat litter boxes where your puppy or dog cannot access them. My cat litter boxes are not accessible to my dogs – a simple and effective approach.
Wild Animal Poop – Rabbit, Deer…
This is one form of poop eating that you really must be present to stop. Even dogs on a truly biologically appropriate diet may still choose to indulge in this form of poop eating sometimes.
Review Your Dog’s Diet
Processed Dry Dog Food
Processed dry dog food is a common trigger for poop eating as dogs are not evolved to exist on an exclusively dry processed food diet. Making matters worse – the vast majority of processed pet food is poor quality – this is true for inexpensive products and many of the expensive products.
Add Quality Digestive Enzymes
Your dog’s pancreas may not be able to make enough digestive enzymes to support his/her digestive requirements. In the absence of sufficient enzymes many dogs will naturally look to self medicate by seeking out alternate sources of digestive enzymes – hence ingestion of other dogs poop, rabbit poop, deer poop, cat poop etc.
If your dog is on a diet of processed dog food – the chance of enzyme deficiency is greater – in which case your dog will benefit from having good source digestive enzymes added to each of his/her meals. This will help with the absorption of nutrients.
Add Quality Probiotics
Viable (live) probiotics are another important element in the digestion of food. Don’t count on the probiotics included in processed dry dog food – the heating and processing kills the probiotics rendering them useless.
Vitamin B and Potassium
Add vitamin B rich foods to your dog’s daily diet – my dog’s get brewer’s yeast, garlic, as well other B vitamin and potassium rich foods.
As noted here, anxiety is another trigger for poop eating in dogs. If your dog is anxious it’s time to work on resolving his/her anxiety issues. This is something that should be done for your dog’s long-term health and happiness anyway.
Work On Recall and General Attentiveness
If you have not yet developed good recall and attentiveness between you and your dog it is time to work on doing so. Again, as with anxiety this is something that should be done for the over-all health of you and your dog’s relationship, your dog’s health, happiness and safety. If your dog is indulging in poop eating solely out of greediness improving recall and general attentiveness is essential.
Offer a Healthy Alternative
This is last on my list as I am not big on ‘treat training’ and if used exclusively without consideration of the other interventions listed above you may make matters worse…
If you see your dog is about to partake of poop offer your dog a real whole food ‘treat’ rich in vitamins and nutrients. My dogs love fruits and veggies, cheese, yogurt, natural peanut butter, tahini, hummus. You can make your own chicken or meat jerky – go natural and forget about processed food and treats.
If After Diligently Implementing All of the Above
Your dog still indulges in eating poop eating. Your dog may just be a greedy eater, or less likely but possible – there may be an underlying medical reason for his/her chronic coprophagia. You can get some blood work done by your veterinarian to see if a medical issue may be causing the poop eating.