Is Your Puppy Eating Poop?

Is your puppy eating poop? The technical term is 'Coprophagia', and although we may think the idea of eating poop is absolutely gross, dogs don't!  Find everything you need to help you understand why your dog indulges in this disgusting habit and what you can do to stop it.

Dogs Eat Poop: It's A Fact Of Doggie Life!

"My dog's eating his own poop - how can I stop him?"

"Help! My dog eats poop - what shall I do?"

I'm often asked questions like these so I thought they deserved an explanation here.

Coprophagia is a formal term for when they eat their own poop (and other animal poo too!) and unfortunately it's a fact of doggy life, dogs eat poop!

I recommend that before you try to address the problem, you first understand reasons why your puppy's eating his poop.

How To Stop Your Puppy Eating Poop!

A beautiful blue roan cocker spaniel puppy sitting in the garden. Thankfully, he doesn't eat his own poop!Puppy eating his own poop? Yuk, not me!

If your puppy's eating habits are causing you to despair, there are several things you can do to help stop it.

You might like to try one, or a combination of several of the methods shown below until your pup stops this anti-social behaviour.

  • Feed your puppy well balanced and nutritious meals. This will stop the 'need' for nutrition which may be what's causing your pet to eat poo in the first place.

  • A good quality kibble is more easily digested than tinned or other wet dog food and usually results in poop that is dryer and less 'appealing' to your dog.

  • Feed  your dog two or three times a day, and at regular times, rather than once a day. This way he's less likely to feel hungry and won't be tempted to eat his own dog poop.

  • Don't overfeed your Cocker as it can lead to his food not being digested properly. Undigested food can smell quite appealing (to your dog!) and guess what happens when his poo smells like his dinner?

    Yes that's right, he will eat it!

  • Mixing a tablespoon of crushed pineapple into your puppy's food may help. Pineapple contains an enzyme that helps to break down the food, leaving no undigested meat in his poop.

  • Adding bone-meal to your puppy's food will help to make dog poop dryer and less palatable to canines. 

  • Your local pet shop, or your vet, may sell specially formulated products to help stop your puppy's anti-social eating habits.


"...my dog eats poop...how can I stop
my dog from eating poop?..."

Puppy Eating Poop? - Pick Up!

If you clean up your dog's mess immediately your puppy won't be able to eat it!

This may sound pretty obvious, but if you keep your dog's living and playing area clear of his poop, you're removing the opportunity for your puppy eating poop to indulge.

Golden cocker spaniel puppy sitting in a field of buttercups and wildflowers.Beautiful Cocker Spaniel sitting amongst wildflowers

When you do clean up after him, try not to let him see you doing it otherwise he may mimic your behaviour (in the only way he knows how!).

Think about it, your dog sees you cleaning up the yard and begins to do the same because he thinks he's doing something that you approve of.

Unfortunately, his 'picking up' involves eating it!

Puppy Eating Poop? - Exercise Him!

By making sure your puppy has plenty of exercise and play  you can be certain he'll be calm and relaxed and less likely to become bored. Boredom is very often when they resort to eating poop.

And don't forget training too; short bursts of fun obedience training will help keep his mind occupied.

Teach your pet the 'Leave It' command and use it if it looks like he's about to approach something you don't want him to have. Once learned, this command may be just the ticket to stop your puppy eating poop.

Play and training are great ways to exercise your puppy, helping to exercise both mind and body; giving him the mental and physical stimulation he needs for development.

A tired pup is contented and well-behaved (usually)!

Puppy Eating Poop? - Immediate Reward

As soon as your puppy has pooped, (don't even give him time to turn around and sniff it) call him to you immediately. Do it with such enthusiasm that he can't resist coming to you.

When he trots towards you, praise him and give him a small treat. If you don't want to feed him too many treats let him play with his favourite toy for a few minutes instead.

If you give him something more interesting to do, or more rewarding, it will block his mind to any thoughts he may have had about eating his poop.

Timing is very important here.

Watch your puppy, and as soon as he's 'done the business' that's when you call him to you and reward  him. This will help him to associate any reward with moving away from his toilet.

If your puppy learns that after relieving himself something good happens, he's less likely to begin munching on his own poop, especially if he knows you've something much more exciting for him.

After pooping, he'll begin to automatically look to you for his reward and with a bit of luck, you'll no longer have a naughty puppy eating poop!

Being Consistent Helps To Stop Your Puppy Eating Poop

Try to be around your puppy whenever he does his toilet, this way you will be in control and better able to supervise him.

TIP: If you really don't like the idea of keeping your pet on a lead, why not consider using a muzzle when he's off lead?

This will prevent him from eating anything undesirable and once he's broken his coprophagous habit, you can then stop using the muzzle.

If your pet is off the lead, you won't be able to keep a close eye on him, and if he gets the opportunity to indulge in his own poo (or even another animal's) he probably will! 

That's why I recommend you keep him on a lead until this problem is resolved.

Please don't inadvertently set your puppy up to fail, because if he gets the opportunity to 'munch' it will only set him back and any progress you may have made will be lost.

Consistency is the key if you're going to stop your puppy eating poop.

A Rattle Bottle Could Help To Stop Your Puppy Eating Poop

Beautiful light golden cocker spaniel puppy sitting on a sofa. Close-up shot.No, I don't eat poop!

If none of the above work for your dog you could try using a rattle bottle to help your puppy to stop this annoying habit.

However, a word of warning: always use a rattle bottle with care, especially around timid or subservient dogs, and use it as he's approaching the poop. It will be more effective this way.

If your puppy has already begun to eat the poop, the rattle bottle is unlikely to be ineffective.

Important Note:

If your dog's eating poop, I recommend you speak to your vet so you can rule out any underlying medical problem before going on to tackle his antisocial behavior.

Visitor Question: Puppy Eating Poop

Why Does My American Cocker Spaniel Eat Poop?

By Angela Johnson
Royston, Herts

Hi, My American cocker spaniel is 15 months old, and he loves to eat poo - it doesn't matter whose it is!

If we take him for a walk, we usually let him off the lead, and if he finds a bit of poo, he'll eat it! He'll eat his own too!

I also have another American cocker, but thankfully he doesn't do it.

I have read all the reasons given and still can't work out why he does it.

He is not bored. I feed him pedigree tinned dog food, he is wormed regularly, and I clean up after him as soon as he has done his business in the garden.

So I am stuck because I don't know why he does it?

Does anyone have any ideas, please?

Reply from Pauline (Web Owner)

Hi Angela,

If you're picking up after your dog as soon as he's done his 'toilet', then he must be eating poo when you are out walking - I'm assuming while he's off the lead.

If you keep him on a lead until this problem has been resolved, he won't be able to eat poo.

If your Cocker Spaniel is otherwise healthy and is not underweight (your vet can confirm this for you), there are one or two things you can do for him.

You could try adding pineapple to his food or pineapple juice to his water because it's said that it makes their poo taste less palatable (?).

You could also split his meal allowance into two and feed him morning and evening to help keep that little tummy feeling full.

Dogs eat poop for several reasons. If you haven't already, read the following articles on Coprophagia (this is the term for dogs eating poop) for more information, and this article will explain how to stop your dog from eating poop. There may be something you've missed.

Best of luck!

Visitor Comments

Why is My American Cocker Puppy Eating Poop?

Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?
By: David M

One of my cockers, Daphne, used to do the same thing. It's supposed to be that they can smell the undigested food in the poo, and they eat it.

There are chewable tablets that they sell at Petco that seemed to do the trick. You give it to them, and it's supposed to make their poo smell foul, so they don't want to eat it.

Thankfully, Daphne doesn't do it anymore.


Dublin
By: Jackie

If you pick up after him at home, then it's not really a problem at home, so it seems that you've only got to worry about him when he's out at the park or on walks.

If you've tried everything and nothing has worked, then I guess the only other thing you can do is to keep him on the lead when you walk him outside.

There is one last thing that you might like to try. Add a couple of chunks of pineapple to your dog's food.

Apparently, when it comes out in his poo at the other end, it's supposed to deter him from eating it. I'm not sure why, but I've read somewhere that it works!

Give it a try. I hope it works for you!

Photo Credit: Puppy Eating Poop
1. Visitor Photo - Gibbs 

2. Cynoclub - httpswww.dreamstime.comroyalty-free-stock-images-puppy-cocker-spaniel-image13830379
3. Unknown