Poop eating is one of the worst things dogs do, but although disgusting this is a surprisingly common problem. Working out how to stop your puppy from eating its poop can be stressful, but you have a few options. Sprinkling the faeces with pineapple or chilli pepper can help. As can your switching your dog to a raw diet. It’s also possible to teaching your dog to come away from their poop, or to remove it from reach as soon as it emerges.
- Why do puppies eat poop?
- Can this bad habit make them sick?
- How to stop your puppy from eating its poop
If there is one topic guaranteed to horrify new puppy owners, it is discovering that their puppy eats poop. In this article we are going to talk about how to stop your puppy eating poop, but first we’ll take a look at why puppies do this, and at just how common and normal this habit actually is.
“Normal!” You cry “Surely not?”
The first time they see their puppy eating his own faeces, most new puppy owners are convinced that they have ended up with a depraved and highly abnormal dog. But this just isn’t the case.
Why Is My Puppy Eating Poop?
First of all, the hard truth is that many, if not most, dogs eat poop from time to time. Especially when they are puppies. A study carried out in 2012 found that 16% of dogs are serious poo eaters!
That dog that you shared your ice-cream with at the beach last week? He quite probably ate some poop first. Your friend’s dog – the one that gives your face a good wash each time you call around? He probably eats poop too.
Many, many dogs do this if they get the chance. It’s just that people tend not to talk about it. It’s something many of us find, well, embarrassing.
My point is – your dog is completely normal – I really want to reassure you on that score, because the worry about a puppy being weird or unnatural in some way is very common.
As to why dogs the world over often engage in this unpleasant past-time, no-one knows for certain, but it is looking increasingly likely, that they just like the taste.
Poop eating has nothing to do with a poor diet – well nourished dogs are just as likely to do it as any other. Though the occasional poop eater is more likely to indulge when hungry.
Some people, myself included, find raw fed dogs are less inclined to eat poop. Perhaps because their food is more completely digested.
Whereas kibble contains a lot of fillers and strong flavourings that pass through the dog and make their poop more bulky, smelly, and possibly more appealing to dogs as a snack.
Poop eating seems to be more common in some breeds of dog than others, but there are no hard and fast rules.
Will Poop Eating Make My Puppy Sick?
Surprisingly, poop eating seems to have no ill effects on most dogs. Some dogs will vomit a poop back up later in your kitchen – another endearing canine trait. But most will swallow and digest the poop with no ill effects whatsoever.
Of course, if your puppy eats another dog’s poop and that dog has worms, there’s a chance your puppy will get worms too. So if your puppy manages to lunch on the meal that has passed through another dog, its a good idea to worm him.
“OK” you say, “so he isn’t deranged, it’s fairly normal, and it won’t hurt him. But I STILL don’t want him to do it. It’s just GROSS. Which brings us to the final question most people ask
How To Stop Your Puppy From Eating Its Poop
Here are some of the techniques that people use to try and stop their puppies eating poop
- Sprinkling their puppy’s food with additives such as pineapple
- Sprinkling their puppy’s faeces with something unpleasant such as chilli pepper
- Switching the puppy onto a raw diet
- Punishing the puppy for touching poop
- Removing poop the instant it is produced
- Teaching the puppy to come away from poop for a BIG reward
But do any of these method work?
There is conflicting anecdotal evidence that the first two techniques work, some people claim they do, and others claim they don’t. Personally, I don’t want to feed my puppy something that is not part of a balanced diet.
And if you are close enough to your puppy’s stools to sprinkle something on them, it makes much more sense to me just to pick them up and dispose of them.
There is some anecdotal evidence that switching to a raw diet may help, but it doesn’t help everyone. And quite honestly it is a big change to make in your life that really should be considered in a broader context than just stopping a puppy munching on poop.
So that leaves us with punishing the puppy for touching poop, rewarding him for coming away from poop and clearing the poop up the instant it hits the ground.
I strongly recommend you combine these last two methods, and forget all about punishment.
Punishment has a number of downsides in any training situation and the last thing you want is for your puppy to be afraid of poop. That could lead to constipation, soiling in the house etc.
If you have got into the habit of letting your puppy outside to do his ‘business’ whilst you sit in a warm kitchen with a cup of coffee and the crossword. This is going to be annoying.
But getting out there with your pup and clearing up everything he does, the moment he does it, is a brilliant way to knock most cases of coprophagia (the fancy term for poop eating) on the head.
Coming away from poop
Combine a commitment to clearing up with teaching your puppy to spin around when he hears a special signal from you that means you have something ‘great’ to give him (a nice handful of juicy cooked chicken for example)
You then have the tools to deal with a ‘poop event’ when you get caught out.
Established poop eaters
You can often cure or drastically reduce poop eating by providing some pretty substantial rewards for coming away from poop.
Bear in mind that the first few times you do this, your puppy will probably pick up the poop he was eyeing up and bring it with him when he hears you call.
Train a magic word
Teach your puppy to come to a special word. This is a word that is always accompanied by a brilliant reward.
You can then use this word if you get into a situation – in someone else’s garden perhaps, or out on a walk – where your puppy finds a poo and is getting ready to tuck in.
Call your puppy with your special word
Resist the urge to faint with shock if he brings the poop with him. And DONT tell him he doesn’t deserve a reward when he is so revolting.
Pretend you think he still looks adorable (you can do this, you really can) – he will spit out the poop when you chuck him his reward.
Even if he swallows the poop on his way to you, still give him his reward. If the reward is good enough, he will soon start spitting out poop to get it, and eventually won’t even bother to pick it up at all.
Persistence pays off!
I have had great results with this method – but you must persistently reward the puppy when he reaches you, even if he eats the poop first.
It will take him a while to get his head around the fact that you have no interest in taking the poop off him. Just make sure you pick it up and dispose of it while he is eating his reward.
Love your dog in spite of his habits
Poop eating can really come between a dog and his family. Puppies have been given away or even abandoned because of poop eating.
This is because people tell themselves that their dog is depraved or disgusting until they believe it.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Try and accept that your puppy is just doing what dogs the world over have been doing since before time.
He is still the same lovely, loyal, dear friend that he always was.
Make the effort to dispose of poops immediately and most puppies will grow out of the habit. I’m not saying that they won’t occasionally be tempted, but it shouldn’t be a problem which features in your life in any significant way.
Does your dog eat poop
Have you had to deal with this problem? What did you try and did it work?
I was once told that dogs eat their own poo if they are lacking in certain vitamins. How true this is. I don’t know.
Dawn Stanton says
We got our puppy from a rescue shelter after he and his siblings had been surrendered at 4 weeks. He was 8 weeks when we brought him home. We immediately started house training, taking him outside every 30 minutes. We went outside with him, taking a treat and a poop bag. As soon as he did his business he got the treat and saw his mess scooped up into the bag. We accompanied him for the first two months of training and since then have not witnessed any poop eating.
We have a 16 month English bulldog that no matter what will eat poo – she will even eat the other dogs poo as he is actually doing the business!
Yes I have a Lab that does the exact same thing! It is truly disturbing.
Wondering what brand food most of you are feeding to your pets?
Orijen food. All quality ingredients and our first Shih Tzu lived for 18 years thanks in part to Orijen and Welactin! We also have him cooked eggs and chicken, berf, etc.
Jennifer B says
So far the reward trick is really working. Our new 9 week old Golden Retriever puppy turns around and eats her poop as soon as it hits the ground. But after reading the suggestion of offering her a reward when she finishes is working. She is highly food motivated and we use her high reward treats. She sees it in our hand as soon as she drops her butt so she has begun immediately running to us. This gives us time to pick up her poop while she’s enjoying the treat. Crossing fingers that it continues to work. THanks for the advice.
Catherine Waterhouse says
I have a Jack Russell/Shih Tzu cross who is now 9 months old and she eats her own poo. I do try to pick up before she gets to it, and I’m often found chasing her round the garden while she thinks it’s a game, so I’m starting to ignore that behaviour. Like the idea of giving her a treat to get her away from the poo.. So will give that a go.
I took my puppy from a dog foster home about a year ago. I love him to bits; he has a great personality, and I feel that he loves our family so much. BUT he eats poop. And after that he licks my kids’ faces. My husband and I were thinking about taking him to ‘doggy school’, but then again, it’s extremely expensive, and the nearest ‘doggy school’ is far away from us. Maybe you have some advice? THANK YOU!!!!
Start by leaving the poo after you immediately spray it with Bitter Apple spray. Of course, clean it up if you can right away, but that’s not always possible. They will soon come to associate the poop with the taste of the bitter apple, which is mostly used for furniture or other things puppies chew on, and will stop eating it. That’s what my friend did with her pup and it worked.
We’ve had a staffie that did this and we have a new 4 month puppy who is now doing it occasionally. My main concern aside from her health is the kids are always kissing her and letting her lick their face etc. Does this have any risks?
Lizzie Onate says
My 6 month old Chihuahua terrier mix doesn’t eat her poop she eats the cats and wants to lick our plunger. It’s very disgusting I’ll try the treat thing but she is very hard headed. Any suggestions is helpful thanks Lizzie
Ginette Ward says
I have I moved breed 6 month old puppy who loves to eat the cats poop. They have an outdoor ‘litter tray’ and I have to get out there quickly before she does to check for poop to stop her eating it, otherwise it’s head down and she is in!
I don’t know how to stop her doing this other than what I am doing. She is very determined and will ask to go out every time one of the cats come in from the garden.
Jacquelyn Partin Hall says
I found every dog will consider cat litter a treat. Highly recommend the litter boxes with top lid with opening. With these, the dog simply can’t reach the cat poo.
My 2 6 month old staffi crosses eat poop every chance they get. I try to clean up as they do it but the female waits until my back is turned to do the deed!
It’s a disgusting habit but I don’t punish them. She hates having her muzzle cleaned so I’m hoping this will eventually stop her doing it. Fingers crossed!
i have a staffy girl 13 weeks and she’s been eating her own pop i think it’s discusting but can’t stop her as she sleeps in her cage in down stairs toilet and i go down on a morning and the smell of poo is there but non left on the paper just the marks were it’s been borkkk
wonder what we can actually do to stop this i hope she grows out of it and same with your pups x
Maybe don’t leave her in a cage in the toilet!!! She is craving attention
Put her cage in your room At least. She’s a baby!!!
Mine is in a crate in my room at night and she does the same thing, poops then eats it right up.
Jacquelyn Partin Hall says
Mine will not soil his bed but poo anywhere else is grabbed in an instant. When crating, keep note of the typical length of time the dog is confined overnight. They usually don’t want to sleep in their waste. I pull food up at least an hour prior to bedtime and make sure to take him out a couple of times prior to crating for bedtime. I had crate in bedroom, but was advised it would increase separation anxiety later, so its now in family room and he sleeps until around 6:30am. I will be trying the meat tenderizer sprinkled on dry food to deter him from his own poo.
Lauren B. says
Being on guard 24/7 is not possible or realistic!
So the answer seems to be just get used to it … hmmm? I think not!
My Jack Russell puppy has several chew toys, is fed dog food regularly, and has a very strong appetite for her size.
Are certain breeds more prone to this repulsive behavior? I’ve owned two other breeds and never had this issue.
Christine Fisher says
My 4 month old border collie eats every sort of poop, goose, horse, other dogs. I can’t put it down to boredom as we’re usually on a walk with our 7 year old border collie. The only thing I can do is train him to leave with extra special treats.
I have recently got a ShihTzu she is now just over 3 months old. We have two other Shih Tzu girls who are 8+9 yrs and never eaten poop. We caught the puppy doing it after having her for about a week.
She is full of personality very quick to learn sit, stay, wait and is good on the lead so adorable but eats poop.
She does not do it every tie and we jeep a close watch on her. We use a puppy pad and she was quick to use it. We finc that most times now she walks away from it now but one of us call her away from pad after poo tell her she is a good girl and its cleaned away immediately. She does loom back at it as if temlted but we keep saying no and distract her. She does not eat it if she has done it through the night.
It may not be easy for everyoe but youneed to keep a watch for when they want a poo and distract dog while its cleaned away. We are doig this and it has lessened the number of times she does it. We are determined to stop this and know its down to us to be consistant. When she does eat it we simp!y say no then clean her mouth and wipe her with doggie antibacterial. She is a very lovi g dog that wants to lick you. So its perseverance and watchfulness
I have a 5 month old shitzu and she only ever seems to eat any poop done overnight so I can’t try these methods. Other dogs poop never bothers her. Any suggestions would be gratefully accepted.
Dawn Stanton says
Since it’s an overnight issue, try to stop feeding the pup at least three hours before bedtime. We feed our 6-mo pup on a 5-hr schedule, 7a, 12p, and 5p, picking up his water bowl at 7p. He’s let out to pee/poop outside before going “nite-nite” (to bed) in his crate by 10p. He usually sleeps until 4a without “hollering” to go outside.
Michelle W. says
I have a 4 month old Black Lab who has eaten her poop. At first I was shocked! The more I read up on it I understood why. Now, when we go out and she poops I say leave it come get a treat she is doing much better
with it..Hopefully it will pass and she will no longer do it… She is such a love very kissy and so affectionate . I will work hard to keep her from doing it..
Iv tried pineapple in my puppy shi tzu s food. Cider vinegar in her water. I pick it up quickly but if I miss her pooping. She eats it still. I’m getting something from my vet called Copron. fingers crossed. I don’t punish her just love her to bits.I also feed her royal can in shi tzu food. And give her bits of chicken and cooked meat. Any help out there Steph.
Its hard when they eat poop but you really want all the kisses from them after work but they have poo breath :'( Going to try some of these methods
I have an adorable 12 month old blonde lab whom I love deeply but she insists on eating our cocker spaniels poop. I simply follow my cocker around with a pooper scooper and dispose of it before my lab gets to it.
Sara McMillan says
Our lab is 16 months she stopped eating her own with these. Training methods but has taken to eating every single one she finds even to the point of pulling it out of another dogs backside, we have had to muzzle her when out as she has made herself very poorly. Any cures?
Tried all sorts of things but nothing really worked so the best thing was to deny acces. I pick up straight away.
My 6 month old chocolate lab no longer eats her own but goose poop is a definite delicacy and she loves it, same with bird poop. I am more concerned with her affinity for eating dead things….birds, frogs and fish.
My dog has done it since I got her at 3 months . When I take her out she can’t do it , but I do work long hours so sometimes she doesn’t hold it … then it eats most of it. She’s 4.
peter wolfe says
I have 2 chocolate labs they are brothers 8 years old and are both dedicated poop eaters ive tried all the above things to no avail we just pick it up every time but still miss the odd one now and then, they both know its bad and sometimes they know one has been missed but they give them selves away, they stand still hoping I haven’t spotted it and if i’m far enough away they get it and run off, I also have a great dane and he thinks they are disgusting ….
Pick up the poop! It’s a simple but effective solution.
Sandi Springer says
In many, many years of living with many, many dogs of all shapes, sizes, ages and breeds, I have had only 4 dedicated poop eaters 1 was a GSD bitch who had been left behind when her owners moved house and may well have started in a desperate attempt to find nourishment.
The other 3 were all Beagles. It seems to be very common in this breed, judging by what I have heard from other Beagle owners.
Marie mcbride says
My 8yr s chocolate lab still eats poop, so annoying and she know not to, as when I catch her, it’s head down and run for the kennel. Sometimes she’s sick with it but often she’s fine.
I tried everything but still she eats. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s what’s she’s does, so I put up with it