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0 Comments | Aug 12, 2012

Gross! How do I make him stop eating poop?

Question:  Rocky eats his poop. So gross. We have been using the command “leave it” and a spray bottle for lungining, treat for leaving it….he still lunges, any ideas? Are we doing the right thing? –Cindy B.

Answer:  The first, and best, strategy is to take him out to potty on leash, clean up after him, and then let him have free time. This allows you to be sure of when he has gone, clean up the poop so he has no access to it, and prevent the behavior from happening. I know that having to take your dog out on leash several times a day can seem like a lot, but it is a routine that people without fenced yards fall into pretty easily, and is worth a try if it means changing this habit. Most dogs poop about twice a day, at the same time each day, so once you know his routine it is pretty easy to time your walks to be able to clean up after him.

There are things you can add to his food that may help make him less likely to eat poop as well. One is a digestive aid, such as Prozyme. This aids in the digestive process, which can help him get more nutrients from his food, leaving less to pass into his stool. The other is an additive called Forbid, which is basically MSG, and makes the stool taste bad to the dog. You can get both of these over the counter, or usually through your vet. Talking to your vet before adding them to your dog’s diet is a good plan, especially the Forbid.

Feed Rocky a little less. Overfeeding causes undigested food to pass into the stool, making it more appetizing to your dog.  The recommendations listed on the back of the food bag are often high, so talk to your vet about an appropriate number of calories for your dog.

Take a stool sample to the vet and check for parasites. Persistent poop eating can sometimes be because a dog has worms, and is not getting enough nutrients due to that. Doesn’t hurt to check and rule that out (or take care of it, if that is the issue).

For many puppies, if you are diligent about cleaning up you can break the habit while they are young. Some dogs are much more determined and take a little more time to change their behavior, and some, unfortunately, are life long opportunists when it comes to poop. So, the first step is to try to break the habit by taking him out on leash walks to poop, and cleaning up after him every time. While you are doing this, look into the enzymes and adjusting his food intake.  Feeding set meals should help regulate when he needs to go, which can help you to get him on a schedule.

As far as spray bottles, treats, and commands such as “leave it,” I would avoid those and just keep things low-key.  After he goes, walk him a step or two away, praise him warmly (and briefly), then scoop up the poop and move on. The less fuss the better. This will help keep you both from being stressed. We don’t want his potty breaks to be a source of stress for either one of you.

Hopefully that will help!