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What to Do if Your Puppy Eats Feces

Has there been a time when your puppy came running into the house from the yard and smothered you with kisses that smelled horrible? And you say, "What have you been eating?" Well, we hate to tell you, but it was most likely dog poop. The eating of feces, or Coprophagia, occurs in many puppies. While it can begin earlier, it's likely to show up around now.

It's pretty easy to check for the signs of Coprophagia - bad breath and a surprisingly low amount of poopie in the backyard. The causes range from an attempt to get attention to mimicking another puppy's behavior to hunger. The thought that your puppy's food isn't nourishing enough, thus causing him to find nutrients elsewhere, is not usually the case. It's easy to stop this behavior with a few suggestions.

Curing Coprophagia:

  1. Nutrient Deficiency - If it IS nutrient deficiency, try switching to a higher grade food or add meat tenderizer to his current food. This adds enzymes which make it easier for your puppy to absorb nutrients.

  2. Make It Distasteful - You can try spraying the feces with Apple Bitter, but if you're going to that much trouble, you might as well just clean the yard.

  3. Clean the Yard - This really is the most direct solution.

  4. Distract Your Puppy - Watch him when he goes outside and, as soon, as he goes for a snack, distract him by calling him to you and doing a few obedience exercises.

The good news is that most puppies grow out of this behavior. Remember to never punish your puppy for eating feces. This is a natural behavior for him and punishment will simply confuse him or, worse, reinforce it. Consider also that it could be due to a medical problem. If your puppy will not give up his "treats," see your vet.

There's not much more embarrassing at a dog park than having your puppy run up behind another dog who is eliminating. How much worse if your pup times it just right and absorbs the poopie before it even hits the ground. By watching him closely and discouraging but not punishing his behavior, you should be able to avoid this stigma.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

How to Get Your Dog to Dislike the Taste of His Poop

If the dog eats too fast, the dog's food will not properly digest. The feces will shed the undigested food, so it will essentially taste "good" to the dog. You can try hand feeding or giving the dog its meal in small increments. Slow down the feeding to make sure all food is well digested.

We used "Accent" meat tenderizer on our dog's food. It is supposed to make the feces taste bad. It must, because he stopped eating it within a couple days! I have also heard that a small piece of pineapple at the end of the meal will cause poop to taste bad to the dog.

~Belinda S., owner of a Border Lab

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