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Why Dogs Eat Poo: Unveiling the Surprising Reasons and Solutions!

At Jordan Dog Training, we understand the challenges and distress that coprophagia, or the behaviour of dogs eating faeces, can pose to pet owners. This comprehensive guide aims to shed light on the various aspects of this behaviour, offering insights and strategies for effective management.

Understanding Coprophagia: Causes and Contributing Factors

  • Nutritional and Dietary Factors: Imbalances in a dog’s diet, whether due to deficiencies or excesses, can lead to coprophagia. Ensuring a diet that is tailored to your dog’s specific nutritional needs is key.
  • Enzyme Deficiencies: Some dogs may have a deficiency in certain digestive enzymes. This lack can lead them to seek these enzymes from faeces.
  • Behavioural Instincts: Dogs may exhibit coprophagia due to retained natural instincts. For example, a mother dog cleaning her puppies might manifest this behaviour.
  • Stress and Anxiety: Changes in the environment or situations that induce anxiety can lead to stress-related coprophagia.
  • Medication Side Effects: Certain medications can influence a dog’s eating habits, potentially leading to coprophagia.
  • Taste Preferences: Some dogs develop a taste for faeces, especially from other species, which might appear more appealing due to different flavours or a higher protein content.

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Enhanced Focus on Management Strategies

  • Environmental Enrichment and Exercise: Boredom or a lack of adequate stimulation often leads to coprophagia. Providing ample physical and mental stimulation is vital. Activities like daily walks, interactive toys, and puzzle feeders can keep your dog engaged and content. Remember, “a tired dog is a happy dog.” Physical and mental stimulation can significantly reduce undesirable behaviours.
  • Regular Dietary Review: Regular consultation with a vet or a canine nutritionist can help ensure that your dog’s diet is meeting all their nutritional requirements.
  • Behavioural Training: Employ consistent and positive training methods to discourage coprophagia. For example, positive reinforcement for obeying commands like ‘leave it’ can be particularly effective.
  • Routine Health Checks: Regular veterinary check-ups are important to rule out any underlying health issues that could be contributing to this behaviour.
  • Tailored Approaches for Individual Dogs: Each dog is unique, and understanding your dog’s specific needs and preferences is crucial in addressing coprophagia effectively.

The Importance of Professional Advice

At Jordan Dog Training, we strongly emphasise the need for professional veterinary advice in understanding and managing coprophagia. A holistic approach that considers your dog’s health, diet, environment, and behaviour is essential for effectively resolving this issue.

Additional Considerations

  • Nutritional Deficiencies: Inadequate nutrients in a dog’s diet might lead them to eat faeces. A balanced, high-quality diet is essential.
  • Health Issues: Conditions such as parasites or digestive disorders can contribute to coprophagia. Regular health check-ups are vital.
  • Natural and Learned Behaviour: Puppies may explore their environment by tasting faeces, and older dogs might develop this habit or learn it from others.
  • Environmental Factors: Dogs may eat faeces to clean their area, especially if confined. Maintaining a clean environment is crucial.
  • Boredom or Attention Seeking: Inadequate mental and physical stimulation can lead to various behaviours, including coprophagia.
  • Attraction to Specific Faeces: Dogs might start by eating cat faeces, often due to its strong, fishy smell, and may then move on to other types, including their own, another dog’s, or even wildlife faeces.

Additional Strategies for Management

  • Prompt Removal of Faeces: Be vigilant in removing faeces from your yard as quickly and often as possible. This minimises the opportunity for your dog to engage in coprophagia.
  • Supervision: Closely supervise your dog, especially during the period when you are working to break this habit.
  • Dietary Adjustments: Consider adding dietary supplements like meat tenderizer or pumpkin to your dog’s diet. These methods are not scientifically proven but are safe to try and may help deter coprophagia.
  • Focus on the Cause: Our approach at Jordan Dog Training emphasises understanding and addressing the underlying cause of the behaviour. Often, by resolving the

root cause, the symptoms, such as eating faeces, will naturally diminish.

5. Regular Veterinary Consultation: Always consult with your pet’s veterinarian for tailored advice and to ensure your dog’s health and dietary needs are being met. They can provide guidance on addressing any nutritional deficiencies or health issues that might be contributing to coprophagia.

Health Issues and Nutritional Deficiencies

  • Health Concerns: Conditions like parasites, digestive problems, or diseases can drive this behaviour. Regular health check-ups are essential to identify and treat any underlying conditions.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: Ensure that your dog’s diet is nutritionally balanced. If the diet lacks certain nutrients, your dog might resort to eating poop. High-quality dog food appropriate for his age, breed, and health status is crucial.

Puppy Behaviour, Environmental Cleanliness, and Attention-Seeking

  • Puppy Behaviour and Exploration: Puppies often explore their world orally, which can include eating faeces. This behaviour usually diminishes with age, but consistent training is important to discourage it.
  • Cleanliness: Dogs might eat poop to clean their environment, especially in confined spaces. Keeping your dog’s living area clean can help reduce this behaviour.
  • Attention-Seeking and Boredom: Ensure your dog gets enough physical exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and attention-seeking behaviours. Activities like agility training, obedience classes, and regular playtime can be beneficial.

Imitation and Dietary Additives

  • Imitation: If there are other dogs that exhibit this behaviour, your dog might imitate them. It’s important to manage the behaviour in all dogs in the household.
  • Dietary Additives: Adding meat tenderizer or pumpkin to your dog’s food can alter the taste or smell of the faeces, making it less appealing. However, always introduce any new food gradually and in small amounts, and monitor your dog’s reaction.

Training and Supervision

  • Consistent Training: Consistency in training is key. Training methods should focus on teaching the dog commands like ‘leave it’ or ‘no’, and rewarding them for compliance.
  • Supervision: Keep a close eye on your dog and discourage the behaviour as it occurs. Timely intervention can be very effective.

Veterinary Advice

If the behaviour persists or if you have concerns about your dog’s health or diet, consult your veterinarian. They can provide tailored advice and ensure your dog’s nutritional and health needs are met.

Conclusion

At Jordan Dog Training, we are committed to helping you understand and effectively manage coprophagia in your dog. With the right combination of dietary management, environmental enrichment, behavioural training, and professional advice, you can address this challenging behaviour.

For any further information or support, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to ensure the health and happiness of your canine companion.

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Justin Jordan Trainer

Justin Jordan

Master Trainer

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Phone (07) 3264 8180      Mobile: 0422 600 774       Email: justin@jordandogtraining.com.au