How to Stop a Dog from Eating Poop – Tips & Tricks

Dogs are man’s best friend, but sometimes they do things that are not so friendly – like eating poop. Coprophagia, or poop eating behavior, is a common issue among dogs, and it can be frustrating for pet owners.

Not only is it unpleasant to witness, but it can also pose health risks to your furry friend. In this article, we will explore different strategies to help stop your dog from eating poop.

A dog's mouth is open, about to eat poop. A hand reaches in, firmly says "no", and redirects the dog's attention to a toy

Key Takeaways

  • Coprophagia is a natural behavior for dogs that can be caused by a variety of factors.
  • Understanding your dog’s behavior and instincts can help you prevent poop eating behavior.
  • Different strategies such as behavioral training, environmental management, and dietary adjustments can be used to stop your dog from eating poop.

Understanding Coprophagia (Eating Poop!)

A dog sniffs at a pile of poop in the grass, while a person stands nearby, holding a leash and looking concerned

Before we dive into how to stop your dog from eating poop, it’s important to understand why they do it in the first place. Coprophagia is a natural behavior for dogs, and it can be caused by a variety of factors such as nutritional deficiencies, boredom, or stress.

Some dogs may also eat poop simply because they enjoy the taste or smell. Understanding the reasons behind your dog’s behavior can help you address the issue more effectively.

Dogs are curious creatures with a strong sense of smell and taste. They are also instinctually driven to explore their environment and seek out food sources.

These traits can contribute to coprophagia, but they can also be used to your advantage when trying to prevent it.

Reasons Dogs Eat Poop

One of the main reasons dogs eat poop is instinct. In the wild, dogs and their ancestors would eat feces to keep their living area clean and reduce the risk of predators being attracted to their scent. However, in domesticated dogs, this behavior can persist even when it is no longer necessary.

Another reason why dogs eat poop is attention-seeking behavior. If a dog is feeling ignored or neglected, they may resort to eating poop as a way to get their owner’s attention. Unfortunately, this is often successful, as owners tend to react strongly to this behavior.

Stress and anxiety can also lead to coprophagia in dogs. If a dog is feeling anxious or stressed, they may turn to eating poop as a way to alleviate their feelings. This behavior can become a vicious cycle, as eating poop can cause health problems, which can lead to more stress and anxiety.

Health Risks Associated with Poop Eating

While coprophagia is not necessarily harmful to dogs, it can pose some health risks. Dogs that eat poop can develop infections, parasites, and other health problems. Additionally, if a dog eats poop that has been contaminated with chemicals or other toxins, they can become sick.

It is important to take steps to prevent coprophagia in dogs, both for their health and for our own peace of mind. In the next section, we will discuss some strategies for stopping this behavior in dogs.

Understanding Canine Behavior and Instincts

A dog sniffs at a pile of feces, then recoils and turns away. Its body language signals disgust and avoidance

As responsible dog owners, we want our furry friends to be healthy and happy.

Natural Behaviors in Dogs and Puppies

Dogs are scavengers by nature, which means they will eat whatever is available to them. In the wild, this would include feces, which can contain nutrients that the dog’s body needs. While our domesticated dogs are well-fed and don’t need to eat poop to survive, the instinct to do so is still present.

Puppies, in particular, are more likely to eat poop as they explore the world around them. They use their mouths to investigate new objects and tastes, and feces may be one of the things they come across. However, as puppies grow and learn what is and isn’t food, they typically outgrow this behavior.

The Role of Mother Dogs

Another reason why dogs may eat poop is related to the role of mother dogs. Nursing female dogs will often eat the poop of their young to keep their den clean and to protect their puppies from predators. This behavior is instinctual and serves a purpose in the wild.

Behavioral Training to Prevent Dogs Eating Their Poop

A dog sniffs at a pile of feces, then turns away as the owner firmly says "Leave it." The owner rewards the dog with a treat for obeying

As we discussed earlier, coprophagia in dogs can be caused by various factors, including anxiety, attention-seeking behavior, and even nutritional deficiencies. While it is essential to address the underlying cause of the behavior, behavioral training can also be an effective tool to prevent coprophagia. Here are some of the behavioral training techniques that can help:

Using Positive Reinforcement

Addressing Attention-Seeking Behavior

Sometimes, dogs eat poop to get attention from their owners. If your dog displays attention-seeking behavior, such as barking, whining, or jumping, try to ignore them. Do not give them any attention until they calm down.

Once your dog is calm, reward them with attention, treats, or playtime. This will teach your dog that calm behavior is more rewarding than attention-seeking behavior.

It is also important to give your dog plenty of attention and exercise throughout the day to prevent attention-seeking behavior. A tired and stimulated dog is less likely to engage in undesirable behavior.

Environmental Management Strategies

A dog sniffs at a pile of poop, while a person sprays a deterrent spray nearby

As we discussed earlier, one of the most effective ways to stop your dog from eating poop is through environmental management strategies. These strategies involve controlling your dog’s access to poop and keeping their living area clean.

Keeping the Living Area Clean

Keeping your dog’s living area clean is crucial in preventing them from eating poop. This includes their indoor and outdoor living spaces. If you have a litter box for your dog, make sure to clean it regularly and dispose of the poop properly. If you have other animals in the house, make sure to clean up after them as well.

When it comes to your dog’s outdoor living area, make sure to pick up their poop as soon as possible. Use poop bags and dispose of them properly. This will prevent your dog from being tempted to eat their own or other dogs’ poop.

Controlling Access to Poop

Controlling your dog’s access to poop is another effective strategy. This involves keeping them away from areas where there is poop. If your dog has a habit of eating poop during walks, consider using a muzzle to prevent them from doing so.

When taking your dog for a walk, make sure to keep them on a leash. This will allow you to control their movements and prevent them from wandering off to areas where there may be poop.

Dietary Adjustments to Deter Eating Poop

A dog sitting next to a bowl of food, turning away from a pile of poop with a disgusted expression

As we discussed earlier, dietary adjustments can play a significant role in stopping a dog from eating poop. In this section, we will discuss some dietary changes that can help deter this behavior.

Improving Digestive Health

Improving your dog’s digestive health can make a significant difference in preventing poop eating. If your dog has digestive issues, they may be more likely to eat poop.

You can improve your dog’s digestive health by feeding them a high-quality, balanced diet that includes plenty of fiber. You can also try feeding your dog smaller meals throughout the day instead of one or two large meals.

Supplements That Can Help

Supplements can also help deter your dog from eating poop. Vitamin B is one supplement that can make poop taste nasty to dogs, making them less likely to eat it. Thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency can also cause coprophagia in dogs because it affects their appetite and nervous system.

You can also try adding digestive enzyme supplements to your dog’s food to improve their digestion and reduce the likelihood of undigested food in their poop.

Before making any adjustments to your dog’s diet, make sure to consult your vet to confirm it is safe for your dog’s needs.

Identifying Underlying Health Issues

A dog sniffs at feces in the yard, while a person sprinkles deterrent powder on the ground

As we discussed earlier, coprophagia can be caused by a variety of factors. In some cases, it may be an indication of underlying health issues.

Common Illnesses That Cause Coprophagia

Several illnesses can cause coprophagia in dogs. Some of the common illnesses include:

  • Parasites: Intestinal parasites such as hookworms, tapeworms, and roundworms can cause coprophagia in dogs. These parasites can cause malabsorption, leading to nutritional deficiencies and increased appetite.
  • Starvation and Nutritional Deficiencies: Dogs that are malnourished or have nutritional deficiencies may eat poop as a way to supplement their diet.
  • Underlying Medical Issues: Dogs with underlying medical issues, such as diabetes, liver disease, or pancreatic insufficiency, may also develop coprophagia.

When to Consult a Veterinarian

If your dog suddenly starts eating poop, it is essential to consult a veterinarian. Your vet can perform a thorough physical exam and run diagnostic tests to determine if there are any underlying medical issues causing coprophagia.

During the examination, your vet may ask you several questions about your dog’s diet, behavior, and medical history. They may also recommend a fecal exam to check for intestinal parasites.

In some cases, your vet may recommend additional tests, such as blood work or imaging, to rule out any underlying medical issues. Once the underlying medical issues have been identified, your vet can recommend the appropriate treatment plan to address the problem.

Product Solutions and Aids

A dog standing near a pile of poop with a red stop sign and a bowl of dog food nearby

Commercial Deterrents and Taste-Averting Products

There are various commercial products available in the market that can help deter dogs from eating poop. One such product is For-Bid, which is a taste-aversion product that can be added to your dog’s food.

For-Bid contains a substance called MSG that makes the poop taste unpleasant to your dog. It is important to note that For-Bid should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian.

Safety Measures and Tools

In addition to taste-averting products, there are also safety measures and tools that can be used to prevent dogs from eating poop. One such tool is a muzzle, which can be used to prevent your dog from accessing poop while on walks or in the backyard. Muzzles should be used sparingly.

Another safety measure is to use poop bags to clean up after your dog immediately. This will prevent your dog from having access to the poop and reduce the chances of them eating it. It is important to dispose of the poop bags properly and in a timely manner.

Dealing with Persistent Cases

A dog sniffs at a pile of poop, then a person sprays it with a deterrent spray, causing the dog to back away

If your dog’s poop-eating habit persists despite behavioral and dietary changes, it might be time to explore advanced medical interventions. Here are some options to consider:

When Behavioral and Dietary Changes Aren’t Enough

If your dog’s poop-eating habit is not improving with behavioral and dietary changes, it’s time to consult with a veterinarian. They can help identify any underlying health issues that might be causing this behavior.

A veterinarian can help determine if your dog needs any supplements or a change in diet to address this issue.


So, while coprophagia (dogs eating poop) may seem like a perplexing and unpleasant behavior, understanding the underlying reasons and applying the right strategies can help mitigate it.

Dietary adjustments and behavioral training to environmental management, there are several ways to address this issue and promote healthier habits.

Remember, patience and consistency are key in helping your dog overcome the instinct to eat poop. By addressing nutritional deficiencies, providing adequate exercise, and keeping your living area clean, you can help ensure your furry friend stays healthy and happy.

Let’s turn away from frustration to the joy of having a well-behaved canine companion.