How To Train A Dog To Stop Eating Poop (And Why They Do It)

As dog-owners, we love our dogs. We love our dogs so much that we are willing to overlook their revolting behavior and repulsive habits. We can cope with our dogs sniffing each other’s butts, and we can cope with our dogs rolling in mucky water when out on a walk.

But at some point you have to draw the line. For many people, this line is when your dog begins to eat poop. Eating poop is truly stomach-turning, and who knows if it is worse for your dog to eat his own poop, or for him to eat another dog’s poop.

Either way, this behavior is utterly vile, and it is a major cause of people looking to rehome, or even euthanize their dog. But this is a bit extreme. At the end of the day, this is simply a behavior, and behaviors can be discouraged and trained out of your dog. 

So if your dog occasionally, or regularly, eats feces, you are in the right place. In this guide, we’ll be telling you how to train this behavior out of your dog, and why they do this in the first place.

How To Train A Dog To Stop Eating Poop (And Why They Do It)

Why Do Dogs Eat Their Own Poop?

Before we take a look at how to stop your dog from eating poop, we first need to understand why they do this. After all, in order to stop a behavior, you have to know the cause behind it.

There are lots of reasons why your dog might start eating their own poop, and the cause for this will depend on whether it is a new or an existing behavior. 

Here are some of the key reasons why a dog might suddenly begin eating their own poop

  • Loneliness – Dogs who live separated from their owners (i.e., in an outdoor kennel/shed) are more likely to eat their own feces. Likewise, a dog spending a short amount of time in a kennel is also more likely to do this. 
  • Attention – If your dog wants extra attention off of you, they might eat their own poop to get a reaction out of you. 
  • Anxiety – If your dog was toilet trained using harsh techniques, this can result in trauma surrounding going to the toilet. So, your dog might eat their own poop after going to the toilet to try to hide that they ever went, in order to avoid punishment. 

But, a lot of the time, dogs do not only consume their own poop, but the poop of other animals too. So, let’s take a look at some reasons why dogs exhibit this behavior.

Why Do Dogs Eat Other Animals Poop?

Sometimes instead of eating their own poop, a dog will eat another animal’s poop instead. This could happen when you are out on a walk, or it could happen at home if you own more than one dog.

Your dog will not necessarily eat another dog’s poop, they could also eat the poop of a cat, fox, or any other animal for that matter. But why do they do this?

Here are some of the main reasons why your dog might eat another animal’s poop.

  • Living with a Weak/Sick Dog – Dogs are pack animals, so you and all the other members of your household (both human and canine) form part of your dog’s pack. If you have an older dog, a sick dog, or a puppy, your dog could eat their poop to hide it, and protect that member of the pack from any harm/attacks. 
  • Young and Learning – If your dog is still a puppy, they might consume the stools of other animals. This is because they still haven’t learned what to eat. Dogs are scavengers, so if they smell nutrients in another animal’s poop, they might eat it. They will usually grow out of this behavior, however. 
  • Scavenging – Dogs need to eat in order to survive. If they are not getting enough nutrients from one source, they might seek it from another. So, if your dog is not eating enough food, they could eat another animal’s poop to resolve this. 

So, now that we’ve taken a look at what might cause your dog to eat poop, let’s take a look at if you can fix this. 

Can You Train A Dog To Stop Eating Poop?

If your dog eats poop, then this is likely a behavior that you want them to stop doing. It isn’t pleasant for anyone if your dog is eating their own poop, because it will likely upset their stomach, and it can make them smell too.

If your dog loves licking, then them eating their own poop will be even more unbearable, as you will suddenly need to avoid their sloppy kisses. So can you train a dog to stop eating poop? 

Yes, you can! This isn’t the easiest of tasks, but it is possible. Dogs are genetically designed to be trained, and this means that you can train your dog to stop eating poop.

However, if your dog eats their own poop regularly, this might be a little more difficult. Let’s take a look at how to train your dog to stop eating poop. 

How To Train Your Dog To Stop Eating Poop

The best way to train your dog to stop eating poop is to use multiple methods at once. But before you do anything, you should make a trip to your vets.

Sometimes a dog will eat their own feces because of an undiagnosed medical condition, such as a vitamin-deficiency or an enzyme imbalance.

If either of these reasons are the cause, then your vet might recommend medication or a special diet to fix this. If neither of these conditions are a cause, then your vet might recommend taste-aversion techniques. 

Taste aversion techniques involve the use of a poop-eating deterrent, which usually comes in the form of a powder. This powder is added to your dog’s food, and it will be flavorless at first.

But, once it passes through your dog’s digestive system, it will quickly release flavors and smells that are unpleasant to dogs (garlic, parsley, chamomile, etc.).

This will put your dog off eating the poop, and should deter them enough that eventually you will be able to stop using the deterrent, and your dog still won’t eat their poop. If you have more than one dog, give them all the deterrent. 

But as well as using this powder, you should also make changes to your environment. You should keep your home and yard clean at all times, and pick up any poop as soon as possible.

If you have cats, you should either keep their litter tray out of the way, or pick out poop as soon as your cat has done their business.

When on walks, you can keep your dog on the lead at all times and this will stop them straying in the search for poop. Finally, you should try to use basic training techniques alongside all of this. Work very hard to teach your dog to “leave”.

Once you have this trick nailed down, you will simply be able to use this to call your dog away from the poop. All of this combined should allow you to train your dog to stop your dog eating poop. 

Summary

In short, dogs eat their own poop (and the poop of other animals) for all sorts of different reasons. But, luckily, it is possible to train your dog to stop this behavior.

If you want to find out how to do this, check out the guide above. 

Daniel Johnson