This is a question echoed by many a horrified dog owner. “Why does my dog eat poo?” is a commonly searched query online. If this is something your pet does frequently, don’t worry. You’re not alone! Many dogs will eat the faeces of other dogs, as well as cowpats, horse manure, sheep dung and more. For some dogs, it’s an ingrained habit. Others are opportunists, who’ll happily eat poo if they get the chance.
However, this is a behaviour you’ll probably want to train out of your dog. Aside from being disgusting to us humans, eating poo has obvious health risks to your dog. Faeces can carry diseases, and some animal poo may even contain medications that can harm your dog.
But why exactly is a steaming pile of dung so delicious to your dog? More importantly, how can you train them out of this behaviour?
Possible Causes of a Dog Eating Poo
There can be any number of possible causes to a dog suddenly snacking on poo. If this is a new development, it might be a good idea to take your dog to the vet for a check-up. Your dog suddenly starting this behaviour or eating a large amount of poo could have a medical cause. If not, your vet can help you work out what is going on and how best to deal with it.
The cause could be simpler than you might imagine; perhaps you simply aren’t feeding your dog enough. A hungry dog will eat anything, and any dog owner knows that their pets aren’t fussy at the best of times! Dogs also tend to be greedy animals. If they see what they perceive as a snack lying on the ground, they’ll eat it.
Boredom or separation anxiety can play another factor. Once the habit is ingrained, it’s something your dog will do automatically.
Another cause could be accessibility. Is there any kind of faeces lying around where your dog could reach it? Dogs eating cat poo is a common problem in homes where dogs and cats coexist. Whether your dog is eating cat dung from the garden or from the litter tray, this is a particularly hard behaviour to train out of your pet. Dogs particularly like the taste of cat poo, and will eat it wherever they can find it!
This can be avoided by keeping your garden clear of faeces or keeping your cat’s litter tray out of your dog’s reach. Prevention is better than a cure. Once a dog has gotten a taste for cat poo, it can become an ongoing problem.
Try not to worry too much about this behaviour. Often, the cause is disgustingly simple. Dogs just like the taste of poo!
How to Prevent my Dog Eating Poo
To get your dog out of the habit of eating poo, you need to keep all areas inside and outside clear of faeces. This is especially important if you have several dogs. You likely have an area outside designated for your dogs to do their business. Always keep this area free of poo. Go out with your dogs and pick up their business immediately.
Better yet, go out and check your garden for poo before you let your dogs out. It’s not unusual for cats to do their business in random gardens, and this is something your dog will zone in on immediately.
Tip: Be sure to check your garden first thing on a morning. Cats tend to roam during the night.
Preventing your dog from eating poo when you’re out and about can be a little trickier. When you go out for a walk, you’re almost certain to encounter poo, whether it belongs to dogs or other animals.
If your dog is on a lead, be sure to keep them away from the poo. If not, it’s important to train in a strong recall command. Calling back your dog when they have an eye on something is difficult, and it may take some practise.
If the problem is getting out of hand, you can always contact an animal behaviourist.
While your dog eating poo is disgusting to us as humans, it isn’t abnormal behaviour in a dog. It’s important to know your dog well; What is normal behaviour for them? Has their behaviour changed? Do they seem ill?
Often, the solution is simply to keep your dog away from poo. Always make sure your dog’s shots and worming are up to date.