Is Your Puppy Eating Poop? Here's How To Stop This Disgusting Habit!

The first time you see your puppy eating poop, you're shocked and disgusted, am I right? His cuteness factor drops through the floor!

Unfortunately, it's a fact of doggie life; puppies and dogs eat poop, and its official name is coprophagia. Thankfully, you can quickly stop this disgusting habit and look forward to sweet-smelling kisses and puppy breaths again!

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

I'm often asked questions like these,

  • My puppy won't stop eating poop - what can I do?
  • How do you stop puppies from eating poop?
  • Help, my dog eats poop. Is this normal?
  • How do I stop my dog from eating poop?

So they deserve a page answering them.

Coprophagia in Puppies And Dogs - What Is It Exactly?

Coprophagia is the formal term for dogs eating poop, and they don't restrict their diet to eating their poo; they will eat other animals' poop too!

Learn more about Coprophagia in dogs and puppies here.

Why Do Puppies Eat Poop?

Before addressing the problem, it's helpful to understand why your puppy eats poop; otherwise, the danger is that he continues this unpleasant habit!

A beautiful blue roan cocker spaniel puppy sitting in the garden. Thankfully, this puppy doesn't eat his own poop!Is this puppy eating his own poop? Yuk, no!

How To Stop Your Puppy Eating Poop!

If your puppy's eating habits are causing you to despair, don't worry; you can do several things to help stop it.

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

  • Feed your puppy well-balanced and nutritious meals to stop or reduce the need for nutrition, which may be what's driving your puppy to eat poo in the first place.

  • Feed your dog two or three times a day and at regular times rather than once daily.

    Feeding your puppy this way will mean he's less likely to feel hungry; if he's not hungry, he may lose his temptation to eat his poop.

  • Refrain from over-feeding your Cocker Spaniel, as it can lead to his food not being digested properly. Undigested food can smell quite appealing (to your dog!). Guess what happens when your puppy comes across poo in the garden, which 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 your pet's poop.

  • Feed your puppy the best quality kibble you can afford. Your puppy's tummy can digest good quality kibble more easily than tinned or other wet dog food. Kibble usually results in poop that is dryer and less meaty-smelly (read appealing) to your dog, which makes it less likely that he will attempt to eat his poop.

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

  • Your local pet shop, or your vet, may sell specially formulated products to help stop your puppy's anti-social eating habits.
A puppy eating poop can be a problem; luckily, this puppy doesn't eat his poo!My Mum doesn't like it when I eat poop - can't think why!

Is Your Puppy Eating Poop? Pick Up ASAP!

It may sound pretty obvious, but if you remove your puppy's poop as soon as it arrives, your Cocker Spaniel won't get to eat it later.

Keep your dog's toilet area and playing area clear of poo; if you do this as soon as your puppy deposits it, you may have removed the problem!

It may sound pretty obvious, but if you remove your puppy's poop as soon as it arrives, your Cocker Spaniel won't get to eat it later. Job done!

Keep your dog's toilet area and playing area clear of poo; if you do this as soon as your puppy deposits it, you may have removed the problem!

While cleaning up after your puppy, 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 garden and begins to do the same because he thinks he's doing something you approve of.

Unfortunately, his 'picking up and clearing away' results in your puppy eating poop!

Stop Your Puppy Eating Poop: Exercise Him!

By ensuring your puppy has plenty of exercise and play, you can be sure he'll be calm and relaxed and less likely to become bored. Boredom is also another reason why puppies resort to eating poop.

And remember training, too; short bursts of fun obedience training will help keep his mind occupied.

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

A well-exercised, tired puppy will be more content and (usually) well-behaved and less likely to become bored!

Stop Your Puppy Eating Poop: Give Him Lots of Training!

Teach your pet the Leave It! command and use it if he's about to approach something you don't want him to have.

Once learned, this useful command may be just the ticket to stop your puppy from eating poop.

Is Your Puppy Eating Poop? Give Him An Immediate Reward!

Don't worry; I do not recommend you reward your puppy for eating poop. Read on, and you'll see what I mean.

Call him to you as soon as your puppy poops (don't even give him time to turn around and sniff it). Do it immediately and with such enthusiasm that he can't resist coming to you.
Praise your puppy and give him a small treat when he trots towards you.

The treat you give your puppy is a reward for leaving the poop and coming to you when called.

If you're uncomfortable about the number of treats you're giving your puppy or that he's growing a little chubby, stop the treats and reward him with his favourite toy instead.

Make a big fuss about him and let him play with his toy for a few minutes.

Giving your puppy something more exciting or rewarding to do will block his mind from any thoughts he may have had about eating his poop.

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

I can't stress enough how timing is crucial when rewarding your puppy.

And remember, the treat you give your puppy is a reward for leaving the poop and coming to you when called.

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

Consistency Will Help Stop Your Puppy From Eating Poop

As with most dog training, consistency is critical.

Try to be around your puppy whenever he does his toilet. It's the only surefire way you'll control what he eats in the garden.

If you're there to supervise your puppy, you can react the minute he turns to sniff his poo.

If your pet is off the lead, you won't always be able to keep a close eye on him.

If your puppy gets to indulge in eating his poo (or the neighbour's cat's poo), he probably will, so I recommend you consider keeping your puppy on a lead until you resolve the problem.

Please don't unintentionally set your puppy up to fail. If you're not around and your puppy has an opportunity to munch, he will take it; this will set him back, and you will lose any progress you may have made.

Consistency is the key if you are to be successful in stopping your puppy eating poop.

TOP TIP: If keeping your pet on a lead isn't working, consider using a muzzle when your dog is off-leash. This way, he can run around and exercise as usual, but he won't be able to graze on anything undesirable.

You can stop using the muzzle once he's broken his coprophagous habit.

Golden Cocker Spaniel puppy, headshot, looking straight into the camera.Hello, my name is Biscuit, and I don't eat my poop!

A Rattle Bottle Could Help To Stop Your Puppy Eating Poop

If none of the above works for your dog, you could use a rattle bottle to help stop your puppy from eating poop.

If you don't know what this is, it's a bottle (or a tin) half filled with coins or pebbles. When shaken vigorously, when your dog stoops to smell or eat poop, the sound will shock your Cocker into stopping dead in his tracks.

Dogs don't like the sound rattle bottles make. Use it as your pup approaches the poop; it will be more effective. If your puppy has already begun to eat the poop, the rattle bottle is unlikely to be ineffective.

Safety Note: Although the rattle bottle may work, it could make your pet aggressive if not appropriately used. Therefore, I only recommend using this method after all else has failed and after seeking professional advice from a qualified canine trainer or animal behaviourist.

Cautionary Note:

If your puppy is guilty of coprophagia, speaking to your vet before trying the above is recommended. You must rule out any underlying medical problem that may be causing this habit before going on to tackle his antisocial behaviour.

A beautiful golden Cocker puppy enjoying the warmth of the whelping box.I used to eat my poop but I'm okay now!

Visitor Questions: Problems With Puppies Eating Poop!

Why Is My American Cocker Spaniel Eating Poop?

By: Angela Johnson
From: Royston, Herts

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

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

I have read your reasons, and I still can't figure out why he does it.

He's 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.

Please, does anyone have any ideas?

Golden cocker spaniel puppy sitting in a field clover flowers.Beautiful Cocker Spaniel sitting among the clover.

Why Is My Cocker Spaniel Eating Poop?

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 you can resolve this problem, he won't be able to eat poo. The less he feeds his 'habit', the sooner he forgets about it.

Your alternative is to muzzle your dog while you're out walking.

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

Change his wet food to dry kibble. You can read the reasons for doing so above.

You could try adding pineapple to his food or water to make his poop taste less palatable - don't ask me how I know this!

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 article on Coprophagia (the term for dogs eating poop) for more information.

Just in case there's something that you've missed, this article will explain more about how to stop your dog from eating poop.

Best of luck!
Pauline (Website owner)

Visitor Comments

Why is My American Cocker Puppy Eating Poop?

Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?
By: David M

Hi Angela, 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 eat it.

They sell chewable tablets at Petco that 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.

By: Jackie
From: Dublin

If you pick up after him in the garden, I guess it's not a problem at home, so it sounds like 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 think the only other thing you can do is to keep him on the lead when you walk him outside.

There is one last thing to try; add a couple of chunks of pineapple to your dog's food. Apparently, when it comes out in the poo at the other end, it puts the dog off eating it.

I can't remember where, but I've read that it works! Give it a try. I hope it works for you!

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