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Poop eating, also known as coprophagia (kop-ruh-fey-jee-uh), is probably the most disgusting thing that Luna does. It’s fairly common among puppies, though most will outgrow it by 6 to 9 months of age.
If your dog, like Luna, refuses to outgrow this behavior, there is hope. There are several things that can be done to curb this behavior. I’ve had more success with some of these than others.
There are a few that I haven’t tried but have heard work. I will include them here with a note that I haven’t tried them.
Some of these tips will work better for those with dogs that prefer to eat their own poop than those that prefer to eat other dogs’ poop. Luna prefers to eat just hers and Morgan’s poop.
Thankfully that means I don’t have to worry about her eating those random piles of poop some dog owners leave around the neighborhood. I still have to worry about stepping in them, but not about what Luna may get sick with from eating it.
What can be done about this behavior?
The first thing I recommend doing is having a talk with your vet. Poop eating could be a sign of something wrong with your dog. Your vet can rule out any health issues that could be causing this issue.
For Luna, the vet recommended changing her food. When we first got her she was pooping up to 5 or more times a day and it wasn’t as formed as it should be.
This, combined with her eating the poop, suggested to our vet that she may not be digesting her food properly. It took us several tries on different foods to find one that seemed to work for Luna.
She now only goes twice a day and they are well formed. The only problem is that she kept eating her poop. At over a year old, it is unlikely that she will be outgrowing this behavior.
If the vet says your dog is healthy, and it’s not the food, it’s probably a behavioral problem.
For dogs that eat it because it’s a habit, here are my suggestions:
Teach Leave It
This has helped with Luna’s poop eating, though she needs more work. She will listen to leave it if we are close by, but not if we are on our deck and she is in the yard. As we continue to train her this may work better.
Pick it up
This is the number one way that we have gotten Luna to stop eating poop. We always clean up after our dogs when on a walk, as all responsible pet owners should, and found that if we clean it up immediately she can’t eat it. Luna used to turn around immediately to eat her poop, so we had to combine this with “leave it.”
This works great on walks, but I don’t always want to be outside when Luna wants to play in the backyard. We put up a fence partly to allow our dogs to play outside without us having to be out every second they are. Picking it up doesn’t work if one of us isn’t out with Luna when she poops.
This one is easy to do. Pineapple tastes good to dogs but is supposed to make their poop taste nasty. If the poop tastes bad to the dog, they won’t eat it.
I’ve heard of some dogs who this works great for and others who it hasn’t worked at all for. Luna is one of the dogs who it sort of works for. It makes her think twice before eating the poop.
This allows us to not have to be as close to her when she poops. She is much more willing to listen to “leave it” when she’s had pineapple versus when she hasn’t.
If you are going to try pineapple to get your dog to stop eating poop, there are a few things I recommend. One, if you have more than one dog, you need to give the pineapple to the dog whose poop is being eaten.
The other is to not use canned pineapple. Either use fresh or frozen pineapple. Canned has more sugar than fresh or frozen have. You want to limit the sugar from the pineapple as much as possible.
Hide the litterbox
Luna is the only dog that I’ve had that eats dog poop, but every dog I’ve had loves cat poop. The only way I have been able to successfully keep the dogs out of the litterbox is to hide the litterbox.
Allie’s litterbox is kept in the laundry room with a baby gate in the doorway. Morgan is too small to jump the gate and Luna hasn’t tried to. Allie, being a cat, can easily get over the gate.
Store bought deterrents
I haven’t tried any of these, but I’ve heard they work. They are supposed to work in the same way as the pineapple. You feed them to the dog whose poop is being eaten and it is supposed to make it taste bad. Having not tried them, I can’t say they work, but it’s worth a try if nothing else has worked yet.
Tabasco sauce on the poop
This is another one I haven’t tried. It works by sprinkling Tabasco on the poop after the dog poops but before they eat it. Supposedly they don’t like the taste of Tabasco, so they won’t eat their poop.
I don’t plan on ever trying this one, it just seems kind of pointless to me. Luna would see me sprinkling the Tabasco on the poop, so she would know don’t eat that one. But then if I’m not there, she would know it’s ok to eat it.
Also, if I’m standing there with a bottle of Tabasco in my hand waiting for her to finish, I might as well have a bag in my hand and pick it up and throw it away.
Picking up the poop right away has been the most successful way of stopping the poop eating, but I’m hoping that we can get Luna to stop all together with the pineapple and leave it combination.
I’m hoping that we will be able to stop both at some point in the future, but she isn’t there yet. I will also bring this up at her next vet appointment as well, just in case the vet has any other suggestions.
What have you done to get your dog to stop this behavior?