How to Stop a Dog from Eating Poop (Coprophagia)

It’s no fun to be your dog out and have them stop to eat a less-than-tasty snack: poop. For pet parents it’s mind-boggling why their pup wants to eat something that nasty.

Often, there's a good explanation. For example, did you know it’s normal for a dog to eat poop as a cleaning behavior? Some mama dogs will eat feces to make sure everything is clean for their babies.

However, if your dog doesn't have puppies and is still eating poop, don't sweat it. There's often a good reason and an easy remedy. The first step is understanding why this gross problem is happening.

[Video] stop a dog from eating poop (coprophagia)

Here's a great resource from a real expert on how to stop your pup from eating her own poo (or maybe someone else's). 

Take a good look at your pup's diet. 

Talk to your vet and make sure your pup isn’t eating poop because of their diet. Some dogs will eat poop to make up for nutrients that they aren’t getting, which can cause them to feel hungry. If a dog feels hungry, they might eat poop to fill up their stomachs.

Read the back of you pet’s food bag to see what nutrients and minerals are inside. Look for foods in which the primary ingredient is meat.

Dog poop can look and smell very similar to the food it may be eating. Eating poop may seem like a nasty habit, but it could also be your dog trying to tell you they need more nutrients. If there's any doubt, take your dog to the vet to see if they're properly fed.

If your pup often feels hungry, it's usually okay feed them more. Just be careful not to feed them more than their little bodies need.

Make sure she's not bored.

Dogs chained up in a yard or kennel for long periods of time tend to eat poop more often. This could be your dog’s way of trying to (1) clean up the small area they're allowed and (2) keeping themselves occupied.

If you've got a breed that tends to like having things in their mouth, make sure poop isn’t one of them. Buy some of their favorite toys (or some new and interesting ones). It may take some trial and error to find a toy your pup really enjoys, so don't be afraid to experiment with a few.

Being left alone often without a buddy to play with can also lead a dog to eat some poop. If you’re leaving the pup alone for a bit while you’re at work, turn on the TV or radio, so they hear some background noise. Leave toys around to play with, too.

Train her not to eat poop (...and take other precautions).

Eliminate any possibility of them eating poop by cleaning up their waste right away. On walks, avoid other piles of poop if you can, and don’t let them sniff poop for long.

If they start to approach and sniff the poop, tell them “leave it!” or make some sharp noise to catch their attention. Be consistent with your language, and your dog will pick it healthy habits more quickly.

Distract your dog while they are close poop by giving a treat or telling them to do something else. They will think that eating poop is less exciting then. On walks, make sure always to have treats on hand to reward good behavior.

Do not punish your dog by pushing their nose by the poop. They will become fearful and eat the poop to hide it from you. Take an understanding approach and make your pup feel comfortable. They do not mean to poop in the house; they don’t want to upset you!

Here's another good video putting all of these recommendations together:

Other tricks that might help:

Talk to your vet about getting some products to help your pup stop eating poop. For example, For-bid is a stool-eating preventative that can be used if other methods have not worked.

Sprinkle finely grounded black pepper, crushed hot pepper or lemon juice on all feces that your dog will commonly come across. Don’t allow water for up to 30 minutes after eating, since water will wash down the bad taste in their mouth.

If your dog is eating the kitties’ poop, try a dog-proof litter box. Place the litter box in a separate room that the dog is not allowed to be in.

Watch your pup closely. As they begin to sniff the poop, make a loud annoying noise, like an air horn, to startle the dog away from the poop. Keep up with this training and they will eventually associate eating poop with that noise.

Other great resources on coprophagia: