You have just got your amazing new puppy, and you are admiring how cute he is every time you pass by him. You are feeding him according to instructions and doing everything, and suddenly, you see that his poop had disappeared. In the beginning, you thought that he doesn’t poop, but then you stumbled against the fact that he is eating his poop!!!!! You became afraid and started going everywhere online to search why he is doing this!? Is he alright? How can I prevent this?
Poop eating happens for a variety of reasons, they can be medical and physical. These reasons are:
1. Separation Anxiety
3. Fear Of Punishment
4. Attention Seeking
5. Lack of Food
6. He Just Likes It
7. Lack Of Nutrients
9. General Diseases That Cause losing appetite
If you found this familiar to your situation, then I will be happy to help you through this post to answer all your questions. I have made this a complete guide to all people. I will look at every aspect of the dog eating poop behavior from the causes to the solutions.
In this video, Jason Smith from Petcorps professional pet care is talking about why dogs eat poop and some tips to stop it. I recommend you watch this.
I usually enter into the article directly, but this time I want to discuss something first. If you are here trying to search for a solution, then 80% you are a new owner, and this behavior is freaking you out. But it’s really normal, and all dog owners stumble upon this behavior with their pups, and it’s not worrying at all.
Also, make sure not to listen to everything out there, most people will give you solutions based on their problem. However, the poop eating problem may differ from one puppy to another, so their solution may not work for your puppy. I will be glad to offer you a complete walk-through of the behavior because I have gathered the most popular questions about that behavior before start writing to help provide the best possible guide that will be bookmarked 😉 Now, let’s begin.
Overview of the behavior
Eating poop is known as coprophagy; it’s typical behavior in 98% of the puppies. It’s not only prevalent in Puppies, but you will find it familiar in all mothers as well because they are trying to clean their babies by eating their poops.
There are a lot of reasons for this behavior like boredom, avoiding punishment, cleaning, a lack of some nutrients, etc. (we will explain each one of these reasons in depth.)
Experts told that 99% of the reasons are related to behavioral and feeding issues, and only 1% can be connected to health issues. However, you can only worry when you find your large dog suddenly eating poop (when he wasn’t) because that is concerning, but for a small puppy, it’s normal. Eliminating this behavior by yelling, punishment, or freaking out will cause your puppy to eat more poop, and you will not help him. Instead, you should always look to cut down this behavior by calmness.
Reasons for poop eating
We will divide the reasons into two categories:
- Behavioral & Feeding.
And we will look at the subcategories of each category in-depth and the solution for each of them.
Behavioral & Feeding
As I mentioned above, 99% of the reasons for coprophagy is due to behavioral issues. I know that some of these reasons will sound weird at first, and you will be like, “How is this related to my dog eating poop!?” but I will explain every reason and its solutions.
Yes, every behavioral problem can be caused by separation anxiety. Separation Anxiety is known as “Behaviors Destroyer.” That’s why you will never find a trainer ignoring this problem at all. Once a trainer finds out that a dog has SA, he will work as fast as possible to limit it. Separation Anxiety can be the first reason for coprophagy, housebreaking, aggressive barking, destroying behavior, escaping, etc. (we will make an in-depth article about that behavior soon)
To identify whether or not your dog has SA (Separation Anxiety), you can ask one of your friends to stay home while you go out for a couple of mins. A puppy with SA will look worried and anxious once you leave and will start acting weird, like trying to bite randomly or whining alone in the corner or refusing to drink or eat. If your puppy was healthy and didn’t show any signs of weird behaviors, then you can eliminate it from the list of possible reasons.
However, if your puppy is proven to have a SA problem, then I recommend checking this article by ASPCA, which is an in-depth article about separation anxiety and provides solutions to it. You will find that a puppy with SA will have coprophagy. (We can’t write the answer here, this will take about ten min-reading, but we will write a sperate article for SA.)
Boredom/lack of exercising
Lack of exercise can cause Boredom (mentally and physically.) When dogs are bored, they tend to do anything to get over their Boredom. They can chew the couch, destroy their toys, or eat their poop.
Fun Story: When Kira was bored when she was a puppy, she would go and drink a lot of water (really a lot) and then come and ask to go down to pee (I taught her a specific sign.) I thought that she had diabetes and ran the checks but found she was completely normal but was just seeking some attention to go down.
Dogs are crazy, they can do anything to get over their Boredom, and the only way to fix that is by giving them the mental and physical exercises they need. However, let us first explain how we can check that the cause is Boredom and not something else.
What I would recommend is to wait till the weekend, take your puppy to a dog park, or run with him. Give him a good playing session that he starts begging you to return home. Once you both return (he will probably sleep a lot,) wait until he poops and see his reaction. If he doesn’t care about the poop anymore, then you know the cause, and you can fix it by following the methods I will provide. Another thing that can show whether it’s Boredom or not is that Boredom usually accompanies other behaviors like seeking to play, chewing, etc. If you find that your dog has one of these behaviors, then you know there is a good chance boredom is the cause your dog is eating poop.
To fix this issue, you must provide your puppy with physical and mental exercise (especially if your puppy was a hyper and intelligent puppy.) Physical Exercises (for puppies) include:
- Daily Walking: It’s the essential exercise, and as usual, you have to make sure that your dog is vaccinated, before starting a daily walking routine. During walking, you’re offering your dog a great chance to interact with the world around him, to strengthen your bond with him, and to tire him by combining running with walking, for example.
- Playing a variety of games: Fetch will be the most important one. You can also play Tug of war (but don’t be too hard on your puppy) to help strengthen the puppy’s teeth as well as limiting the nipping behavior, which is common in the first couple of weeks.
- Automatic launching ball machine(if you don’t have time): This is simply a fetch game that runs automatically.
- Using Dog Activity monitor: The dog activity monitor monitors everything related to a dog’s activity. The monitor tracks things like how much he exercised, how much more could he exercise, etc.
Here you can find a fantastic article that talks about the reasons for using a dog activity monitor. If you are wondering about the best brand, I think pitpat is widely popular.
- Treadmill: Yes, if you have a treadmill in your home, then you will be fortunate. You can train your dog to walk or run on it to give him the best possible exercise. However, don’t overexercise your dog as this can harm him.
- Dog clubs and parks: If you live near a dog park, it’s best to go there and let the dogs meet and socialize! However, make sure you follow the rules of dog parks. Also, make sure that you don’t go when there are a lot of dogs there because this can harm your puppy. Make sure that your puppy is OK around dogs as well.
Mental exercises are as important as physical ones. Great Mental exercises can include:
- Social Exercising: Social exercising is one of the first things that you need to do at an early stage. Try to let your dog see different things as much as possible and as soon as possible, and teach him how to play with dogs from early-stage so that they won’t have any aggressive behavior when they grow-up.
- Cognitive Training: Have you ever imagined to have a dog that can solve puzzles and problems? Dogs can get tired by solving puzzles, and by learning problem-solving, you don’t need to buy anything fancy. Use your creativity to achieve this type of training. There are some Dog Puzzles you can purchase, and you can make your own too! Solving puzzles will increase your dog’s intelligence, surprisingly. As you can train your dog to do amazing things like discovering bombs or weed or drugs, he can be trained to achieve surprising results in any field (Guide dogs, medical dogs, etc.)
- Challenging Food: First, you can buy the dog food puzzle mat; this will make him sniff his way to his food. You can also try to distribute the food all over the backyard (if it is fresh food) and let him find it. However, don’t exaggerate like making it impossible to find as this can lead to some food aggression problems that we want to avoid. Try to make it challenging but funny.
- Training: Training your dog, as we said in our previous articles, should start earlier at a very early stage (8 weeks). After basic obedience classes, it is best to begin teaching the dog some fantastic tricks. Dogs are known to love those tricks.
We already discussed all of these things in our Border Collie’s article, take a look at it here.
Fear Of Punishment
If you hit or yell at your puppy when he pees or poops in your house and break house rules, this can be the trigger of this behavior in your puppy. When puppies are afraid, they will start eating their poops to run away from punishment.
Fun Story: Kira never pees inside the house. However, from a few months, she was sick and had to pee. I wasn’t angry at all, and in fact, I have never yelled at Kira, and she knows how sweet our relationship is. But, she started to lick and drink her pee. She doesn’t want to make me angry, and she knows that she has broken the rules (even if I weren’t going to punish her at all.) That triggered this action inside her to cover her mistake.
Puppies’ pure heart can make them do this behavior to cover the mistakes they did. If you are punishing your dog when he pees, then please check our article to know the correct away of training your puppy how to pee in the streets/bathroom.
He ate the poop, and you ran at him to prevent him from doing so. He found that this is great! Every time he eats his stools, you will run for him!
A lot of puppies find that making mistakes is the most excellent way to grab their owner’s attention, and a lot of owners enhance this behavior (without actually taking care) by giving them the attention they ask for.
My advice for that is that whenever you find your dog doing something wrong, stop him and remove him out of the room. Clean the miss and then make him enter again. This will make him understand that doing something wrong isn’t the key to attention at all. And whenever you find him pooping and leaving the poop alone, run to him and start playing with him, this will make him know that treats come after good manners.
Lack of Food
A puppy may eat his poop if you don’t give him enough food. You can check that by increasing the food portions and monitoring his behaviors.
Sometimes, it’s just a phase that every puppy goes through when he wants to know the taste and the smell of everything. If that’s the case, you will find that the puppy will stop eating once he hits three months or 3.5 months.
Other reasons that can cause the poop eating behavior are medical reasons.
He Just Likes It
You may find this weird, but yes. Some dogs just eat their poops because they like it. Preventing them will be hard; you have to make sure that your dog is well-trained to poop outside, then this behavior will be eliminated on its own.
Let me remind you, these reasons aren’t popular at all. It can happen to your puppy. However, 99% of the reasons for poop eating are behavioral reasons. However, it won’t harm if you checked with your vet to make sure that your puppy is great and healthy. The possible reasons for poop eating (medically) will be:
Lack of Nutrients
Lack of Nutrients is an important reason for puppy eating if puppies don’t have a proper diet. Dogs’ poops are full of salts and nutrients (as well as poisons), and this can trigger the poop eating behavior. Your vet will determine the lacking nutrient in your puppy’s blood and will give you a recommendation of what you can buy.
Please, ignore local recommendations from friends. Just because some medicines worked with them, it means that the same will work for your puppy. Let the vet decide the doses as well.
Let me repeat my words. Medical reasons are not popular at all. However, if your dog has a worm, it might feed on the puppy’s food, and this causes a lack of nutrition. Anyway, your vet will be the most helpful person in this time.
Diseases that increase appetites
We all know that humans with diabetes, for example, eat a lot. Same with puppies (or dogs in general), when they have a specific condition, they might eat a lot. When your vet runs tests, you can determine the issue.
Any disease that causes a problem in the abdominals or the stomach of your puppy can cause a lack of nutrition and can trigger the poop eating behavior. Some of these problems are dangerous, and some of them aren’t. The first thing you have to do is to run the tests and see the results. If you found out that all the tests are great, then it’s behavioral.
General tips for poop eating
These are some tips that can help you decrease this behavior:
- Keep your puppy clean.
- Keep the place of the puppy clean after he poops or pees and never leave any feces around.
- Make your puppy’s food full of vitamins and nutrients.
- Make him poop outside the house as much as possible so he won’t have time to eat his poop.
- Use a kennel where your puppy can’t poop inside.
- Ask your vet for the best diet for your puppy.
Poop eating is a very disgusting behavior for humans. However, puppies or dogs don’t see it in that way. Handling poop eating is vital. You can’t ignore it because the poop eating behavior can lead to poisoning your dog (because stool is full of poisons and unwanted material), and therefore, it’s a must that you deal with it correctly. Never punish your dog for eating his poop; this can lead to increasing the behavior rather than decreasing it.
I hope that you already have an overview of what you can do to help your puppy get over this behavior. Make sure to wait for our next articles in the puppy series 🙂 Stay tuned 😉