A puppy who eats his poo or those of others is not very glamorous … But beyond this rather superficial discomfort, this behavior can reflect a real disorder.
Indeed, this behavior is known under the name of coprophagia or also of scatophagia . Literally, and according to the dictionary, it means “to feed on feces”.
If for insects coprophagia is completely natural, for dogs, it is absolutely not recognized as a normal diet and we will see here why some puppies and dogs are led to adopt this behavior and especially how to avoid or solve the problem.
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Why is my puppy eating his poo?
My dog eats his poo because he likes the taste
Coprophagia can come from different reasons but in the majority of cases it is because the puppy’s food is poorly digested . Let me explain: if the puppy’s diet is very rich and he does not digest it properly, the stool will in fact still have “substances” with a strong appetite.
This will attract the puppy who will take the opportunity to continue his meal.
However, you will agree, it is complicated to control and manage this behavior because we are not always behind our puppy when he defecates. But here are some tips on how to solve this problem:
- Call your veterinarian to prescribe tablets (or drops) to have in your puppy’s bowl during his meal. This does not change the taste of his croquettes at all, he will only see fire. However, it will significantly change the palatability of his stool. He will therefore no longer be attracted to his poo and will then stop eating them.
- Possibly review your puppy’s diet, favoring more digestible kibble. Again, your veterinarian can advise you on this subject.
- If you see your puppy doing this, of course stop him immediately! The best solution is anticipation because it will be easier to stop an intention to do rather than an action already in progress. Do not hesitate to work in parallel, without stimulation, the notion of renunciation and immediate stop. Your puppy needs to associate giving up with something very positive. For example “you leave” = candy.
My puppy eats his poo because he’s bored
This is rarer than bad digestion, but a puppy can also be tricked into eating his poo because he wants to get its owner’s attention. Indeed, he understood that it worked quite well and that he could have your full attention when he did so.
However, it can be difficult to distinguish if this cause is real because of course, as I indicated previously, it will be better to come and stop a puppy who intends to eat his poo.
Here, we are forced to bring him attention. So how do you tell if your puppy is eating his poo for attention or for some other reason (bad digestion, as mentioned above).
So there you have it, I suggest you do a little experiment. For a week, completely ignore your puppy when he does this.
To ignore a puppy is not to look at it, not touch it and not talk to it. Even if it is to scold him because know that the behavior of a puppy (made to attract the attention of his master) which is sanctioned will in fact be reinforced because the puppy will get the attention he initially wanted.
Then, ask yourself the following questions to find balance in your relationship :
- Do you respond to your puppy’s requests for attention all the time? If the answer is yes then I strongly recommend that you set up the previous experiment (i.e. ignore his puppy) and apply it to any situation where your puppy asks for your attention (barking, hopping, etc.)
- Is your puppy still getting satisfaction? Does he at least know what frustration is? Does he know how to wait / give up in order to obtain? This is very important just like us puppies / dogs need to know how to deal with their frustration. Can you imagine if we, as adult humans, couldn’t manage our frustrations? Would we continue to have whims like children in stores that don’t have their pack of candy? My God !
- Does your dog just not want to let you know that he is bored and looking for an occupation? Are you meeting your puppy’s needs sufficiently?
So here are my tips for solving your puppy’s “need for attention” problem:
Tip # 1: Respond well to your puppy’s needs based on his stamina and needs. But in any case, a puppy will need to get out of his house (and his garden) every day for a little walk. Beyond 6-8 months, walks may exceed half an hour.
Then there is also the response to mental needs (through learning tricks, strengthening obedience or even intelligence games) but also olfactory needs which are very important since smell is the most important sense. development of the dog, and therefore the one that should be the most stimulated on a daily basis (tracking exercises, walks rich in olfactory stimuli, etc.).
Tip # 2: As we have seen, ignore your dog when he asks for your attention, be it in any situation, and only give him your attention when he’s moved on. He then understands that “to give up is to win”.
It may be difficult for you at first if you are not used to, but know that this attitude will be much more consistent and will allow your puppy to (re) find a real balance within the group.
Tip # 3: Along with all the other tips in this article, teach your puppy to deal with his frustration through the “stand still” exercise. Use this indication as often as possible.
For example: before accessing your bowl, before going through a door, etc. He will then understand that when he arises, that he contains his energy, that he listens to you and that he is calm: he gets it (too nice) !
My puppy eats his poo because he is not clean
Finally, poor toilet training and an inconsistent attitude from owners towards it can cause a puppy to eat his poo.
Indeed, a puppy that has not yet learned to defecate outside and which is systematically punished when it is inside can then adopt this behavior of coprophagia to “eliminate its traces”.
So, to prevent your puppy from eating his poo, here are some tips:
- Always respect the “not seen, not taken” rule. If you haven’t seen your puppy defecate indoors: there’s no point scolding him because he just won’t understand why
- If you see your puppy doing, on the other hand, tell him your dissatisfaction with a verbal annoyance for example and accompany him outside. If he finishes defecating outside, then congratulate him warmly.
- In any setting where your puppy defecates wherever you want (on a walk or in the garden) , don’t be afraid of being ridiculed and give him a lot of praise once he’s done (not while he’s doing his business because it could cut him in his desire).
- Never put your puppy’s nose in his “stupidity”, this is humiliating and is of no use at all, except to encourage him to eat his poo to eliminate the traces.
- Do not pick up the messes of your puppy in front of him and especially do not clean with bleach (it attracts them).
- Conversely, you can place bleach outside where you want your puppy to relieve himself. Bleach looks like urine to the dog, so it will want to mark on it.
You must understand, to solve your puppy’s problem, you must determine the cause: is it because he is bored, that he wants to get your attention? Or is it because he does not digest his kibble well or because he wants to erase all the messes made in your absence to avoid the penalty?
To summarize :
- Optionally change your puppy’s diet
- Consult your veterinarian so that he prescribes you a tablet to put in his meal which will result in making his stools less appetizing
- Have a consistent and fair attitude towards your puppy
- Teach him that you are the initiator of the activities so that he does not try to get your attention in any way.
- Do not subconsciously encourage your puppy to eat his poop to avoid possible punishment from you
- Teach your puppy to manage his frustration and set up signs of giving up to keep control over any bad behavior he wants to adopt
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