Well, why do dogs take great pleasure in rolling around in dead, rotting animals? They just do. Unlike humans above the age of two, plenty of dogs just love The Poop, whether it comes from cats, horses, geese, or, most disgustingly to many a proud owner, their own body or their master’s.
So, Why Do Dogs Eat Poop Again?
Different dogs eat different types of feces for various reasons. First, some coprophagy (the consumption of feces) is natural thanks to how dogs evolved. Before dogs were dogs, they were wolves, and upon locating human excrement and human garbage, the wolves chowed down. Eventually, there evolved an animal like the wolf, except that it was smaller, it hung around folks, and mostly scavenged instead of mostly hunted: The Dog.
Why Do Dogs Eat Other Animals’ Poop?
Cat feces probably attracts dogs because cat food is higher in protein and fat than dog food, and consequently cat feces is, too. Your guess is as good as mine, as for why dogs like horse and cow manure and goose droppings. Dogs like loads of things we humans don’t – When was the most recent time you rolled in a dead squirrel, grinning your fool head off the whole time? Maybe dogs simply like the taste of poop.
Eating Feces Could Be an Indication of Illness
Not all coprophagy is normal or benign. Dogs who suffer from malabsorption syndromes, like exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, sometimes eat feces, including their own. They may be trying recover the nutrients they can’t consume in normal digestion.
“She’s eating a low-quality diet” is often thrown around as an explanation for a pet dog’s coprophagy. If your dog eats her own and other dogs’ poop, and you’re buying the 50-pound sacks of whatever chow is cheapest at your local warehouse store, food of better quality might be worth a go.
If You Get Excited About Poop, Your Dog Might Get Excited, Too
You can often pique a dog’s interest in a specific toy by taking it out, playing with it excitedly by yourself, then putting it away again. Same goes for shoes and your dog’s subsequent habit of shoe-nabbing. Imagine what Zippy learns when he streaks past with your Manolo in his own mouth and also you start yelping? Poop, too, may suddenly rise in value to your dog when the result of his own provisional sniff and lick is the fact that you shriek, tug him away, and stash the experimental stuff in a bag. Hmm, he thinks, there must be something coveted about that thing. And the following time he spots some feces at the dog park, he speeds up the snatch-and-grab, and you melt into a puddle of embarrassment.
Dogs Learn From Other Dogs
Our Fido ignored litter boxes until we adopted Muggsy Malone. Whenever he saw a cat issue Muggsy adored cat poop and used to head for the box at a dead run. Izzy soon noticed his love and scored a sample for herself. Muggsy is gone for many years, but his legacy remains.
Again, Why Do Dogs Eat Their Own Poop?
There are some well-accepted behavioral explanations for dogs eating their own stool — not that I know of any research to back them up. Pet Store puppies seem to eat their own poop more than the average dog. The rationale would be the same one that makes crate training so successful: dogs avoid soiling their nests. Dogs forced to eliminate within their cages will typically try to clean up. Let this happen a few times, and a habit is born.
Is It Bad for Dogs to Eat Poop?
How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Poop
Yeah, okay, good, a small poop won’t hurt your dog, but it grosses you out, so let’s talk about prevention. If your pet has access to the type of feces she likes, she will sometimes get some. Homeless people defecate in public parks; if your dog is off leash, your best defense is a strong recall or rock-solid answer to a cue meaning “Leave that alone.” Nevertheless, your dog is better at finding feces than you are and may well get a few bites in before you detect and intervene. If you reside in a rural area, chances are you can’t control the availability of horse and cow and goose and deer droppings.
Prevent Availability of Poop
Control the surroundings! Tidy the lawn and clean up the poop so there is nothing poopy for your dog to experiment with.
If she’s diving for her own feces just as she creates it, keep her on leash until she’s done her biz. Then lure her away with something super tasty before she has an opportunity to eat poop. Or gently pull her if a bribe doesn’t work. Try a play invitation to divert her. If she’s a junkie for fetch, pitch a ball the nanosecond she begins to rise from her squat, then clean up during the pursuit.
Keep Litterboxes Out of Reach and Clean Them Often
Does your dog eat cat poop? Many cats resist using a covered box or one that’s in a little, enclosed space, especially if a feline housemate likes to pounce on them when they come out. Train yourself to hear those little cat feet going scritch scritch scritch, and scoop the poop as soon as kitten’s done. Even the slickest litter snacker can’t eat what isn’t there. In any case, a scrupulously clean box is nicer for your cat.
Many people muzzle their dogs to prevent poop-eating, but the commonest result is simply a muzzle stained with droppings, which is more than you wanted. If the poop-snack habit isn’t well established, it might die away on its own, provided your dog has no additional opportunities to practice it. Many puppies also stop their stool-eating as they mature. If your pup isn’t one of those, prevent, prevent, prevent, and do teach that rock solid basic command: “Leave it.”
How About Taste Deterrents?
You’ll see I’m not touting hot sauce or commercial flavour deterrents. Honestly, I don’t see the point. The commercial taste deterrents you feed your dog don’t have any impact on any feces but hers. Plenty of dogs feel totally fine about a dash of hot sauce on poop. And no matter how much your dog hates it, and which kind of hindrance you use, sooner or later he will find an untreated stash. Result: poop snacking is on what is technically known as a variable intermittent reinforcement schedule, which is what trainers use whenever they want to produce an extremely persistent, lasting behavior. Just what you’re looking for in stool eating, right?
Dogs Eat Poop
Last word on poop eating? Almost no behaviour makes it clearer that dogs are different from us. Feces disgust us. Not so for dogs. Eating feces is dangerous to humans, mostly not to dogs. Prevent the habit as much as you can by teaching your dog to obey a strong “Leave it” cue, and bear in mind that dogs are dogs and sometimes the dog will get the poop before it hits the fan.