My Poop Eating Pooch!

I pet sit this beautiful little puppy client on a daily basis. She lives withHappy pit bull dog her older canine brother. In the last few days I noticed that the puppy started to eat the poop of his older, male sibling. They live in a very clean, ideal setting so I decided to do a little research to learn more about why dogs do it and how they can be broken of the behavior.

According to the AKC, coprophagia (the scientific name for dog poop eating) is relatively common. In a 2012 study that was presented at the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior annual conference, 16% of dogs are classified as “serious” stool eaters and 24% of dogs will eat feces at least once.

Apparently, eating fresh stools is an innate predisposition of ancestral dog mammals (canids) living in nature. The stool-eating dog is trying to protect other pack members from intestinal parasites present in feces that could occasionally be dropped in the den/rest area.

From a canine point of view, eating poop isn’t really all that bad. In fact, some dogs consider it haute cuisine. And why not? Dogs evolved as scavengers. They ate whatever they found on the ground or trash heap. According to behaviorist Steven R. Lindsay, “coprophagia may be one of several appetitive survival behaviors that have evolved to cope with the periodic adversity of starvation.” In other words, when you’re hungry, you can’t be picky.

Other facts to note:

  • Coprophagia is more common in multi-dog households.
  • Poop eaters are no harder to house train than other dogs.
  • Females are more likely to eat poop than males.
  • 92% of poop eaters like fresh poop.
  • 85% of poop eaters will not eat their own feces, only that of other dogs.
  • Greedy eaters tend to also be poop eaters.
  • Puppy poop eaters will most likely, grow out of the habit.

The best way to stop the problem is through training and environmental management methods including:

  • Keep the log’s living area clean (including yard, so there will be no poops for him to eat).
  • Cat owners should keep the litter box clean.
  • Supervise your dog on walks and pick up after him immediately.
  • Work on commands like “leave it” and “come.” Teach your dog to come to you for a food treat as soon as he has eliminated.

As they say, dogs will be dogs. They lick their private parts, drink from toilets and sometimes, eat their own poop. They seem to have no shame. And, that’s why we love them so much!

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