How to Train Your Dog to Not Eat His Poop

Medium
4-8 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

Do you know what coprophagia is? If you have ever caught your dog eating his own poop or feces from another animal, this is defined as "coprophagia", or the desire to eat poop. As humans, there is no way we could ever make any sense out of this behavior, yet it is very common in puppies and often continues throughout a dog's life unless he has been properly trained not to.

There are several reasons why your dog might be eating poop, including:

  • He just loves the taste (yuck!)
  • He is bored, anxious, or stressed
  • He has a vitamin or mineral deficiency
  • He learned the habit from another dog
  • He is not getting enough to eat 

Defining Tasks

The basic command you must teach your dog is 'leave it' which, once learned, can be used to make him stop eating more than just poop. You can use this command to stop him chewing on things he shouldn’t such as shoes, socks, kids' toys, and much more. There are, of course, several ways you can go about this, but no matter how you do so, remember to use positive reinforcement. Never punish your pup for getting it wrong, just keep working with him until he finally figures out that eating poop is not good. 

Getting Started

Any way you look at it, teaching your dog not to eat poop is a good thing. If your dog has been eating poop, be sure to take him to see the vet. You should have the vet make sure his vaccinations and parasite treatments are up to date. Feces can contain any number of parasites and diseases that can be passed on to your dog. 

The Leave It Method

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Step
1
Teach the 'leave it' command
The command 'leave it' can be used to teach your dog to stop doing any number of things, including eating poop.
Step
2
Go for a walk
Take your dog for a walk on his leash. If he is eating his own poop, leave some in the backyard and do the walk part here. If he eats any ol' poop, you can take a walk in the neighborhood.
Step
3
Close in on the poop
Walk him close enough to the poop that he starts moving towards it.
Step
4
Leave it!
Firmly say "Leave It!" and stop him from continuing toward the poop, but do not pull him back.
Step
5
Come!
Call him to you using the 'come' command.
Step
6
When he returns
If he stops and returns to you, give him a treat and praise him.
Step
7
Distraction
Continue to keep him distracted by having him perform another trick such as 'shake' and then move on. Be prepared for this to take time, especially if he has been eating poop for a while. However, your patience will eventually pay off and your pup will no longer suffer from poop breath.
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The Avoid & Distract Method

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Step
1
Address nutrition
Have your vet check out your pup to rule out any medical conditions or nutritional deficiencies. Making adjustments to your dog's diet or adding supplements may curb his desire for "snacking".
Step
2
Clean up
Be sure to keep your own yard clean of poop and be careful where you take your dog to walk and play. Limit his access to poop as much as possible.
Step
3
Distract
Use a 'leave it', 'look at me', or other command to break your pup's focus when he zeros in on a potential snack.
Step
4
Ask for an alternative
When you have his attention, ask your dog to perform a trick or behavior he knows, such as 'sit', 'shake', etc.
Step
5
Reinforce
When he obeys and performs the behavior you ask for, make sure you give him plenty of praise and a treat. Over time, your dog should come to look at you first before diving in, or at least be well-rehearsed in responding when you give commands while out on walks.
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The Tastes Bad Method

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Step
1
Make his poop taste nasty
Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of canned pumpkin to his dog food if he is eating his poop. If he's eating the poop of another dog in the house, give the other dog the pumpkin instead. Pumpkin tastes good as part of his food, but not so great on the other side of the digestive tract.
Step
2
Dinner time
Feed your dog as normal.
Step
3
Potty break
Take him out and let him do his business.
Step
4
Poopsicle, anyone?
If he approaches his poop and looks like he is going to eat it, let him try.
Step
5
Eww! No way.
Unless your dog is exceptionally odd (or determined) he will turn his nose up at the poop. You may have to repeat this process numerous times until he learns to associate the bad taste with what used to be one of his favorite snacks.
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Success Stories and Training Questions

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