Help, my dog eats poo!
It is a common problem among dog owners: your faithful four-legged friend eating poo or faeces. Although this behaviour is often perceived as distasteful, it is important to understand that this behaviour is not uncommon among dogs. In this blog, we will discuss the possible causes of this behaviour and some solutions to solve the problem.
Why does my dog eat poo?
First, we need to ask ourselves why dogs eat faeces. There are several reasons why a dog exhibits this behaviour.
It is quickly assumed that this behaviour in a dog is caused because the dog is "short" of something in its diet. When a dog receives complete nutrition, however, this is no longer obvious. It is precisely when the diet gets out of balance by adding all kinds of extra food supplements that things go wrong. The dog will try to compensate for this imbalance by eating faeces. But even if a dog gets a large amount of food once a day, the dog may spend the rest of the day looking for food to satisfy its needs.
The behaviour can also develop in young dogs that spend a lot of time in a kennel or crate. The curious pups then get bored and start exploring. Eating each other's faeces can then be a good distraction. If bystanders react to it, the pup will learn to draw attention to itself this way. But even if the pups, because they stay in a kennel for too long, don't get the chance to defecate outside, they will soil their own kennel out of necessity. The pup will eat this itself if it is not cleaned and so this can quickly develop into habitual behaviour. It is not easy to subsequently break this behaviour.
There are certain breeds that are never satiated such as the Labrador Retriever and the Beagle. These dogs like to eat everything that comes their way. If you correct this behaviour, the dog will only speed up ingesting the faeces or take it away and then eat it somewhere else.
Solutions if your dog eats poo
If you notice your dog eating faeces, you should not ignore this behaviour. Below, we discuss some solutions that can help change your dog's behaviour.
1- Provide adequate exercise and stimulation
Boredom can be a cause of the unwanted behaviour. If your dog mainly tends to eat faeces when on a leash, this is most likely the cause. If you release your dog daily to a place where he has the opportunity to play with other dogs, this could be enough to prevent the unwanted behaviour.
2- Improve your dog's diet
A lack of nutrients in your dog's diet can cause him to eat stool. Always make sure the dog is offered a complete food, so deficiencies can never be a cause for this behaviour. Spread the food over 3 times a day to avoid the dog having to search for food to satisfy his needs.
3- Link a negative association to eating faeces
Correcting eating stool has no effect. It only makes the dog take the stool faster or will eat it somewhere else. It is better to break the unwanted behaviour. You can do this by, for example, making a loud noise when displaying the unwanted behaviour, which will startle the dog. In doing so, the dog should not notice that the sound comes from the owner. Eating faeces is then associated with a negative association.
4- Train your dog with positive reinforcement
It is also possible to train your dog not to eat faeces using positive reinforcement. This involves rewarding your dog for good behaviour, such as ignoring defecation, rather than punishing for bad behaviour. Reward your dog with treats and lots of praise and love when he shows good behaviour. This can help reinforce desired behaviour and reduce unwanted behaviour.
Consult your vet
If you notice that your dog continues to eat stools despite efforts, it is important to consult your vet. Some medical conditions, such as pancreatitis or poor digestion, can cause your dog to eat stool. The vet can help you identify the underlying cause of your dog's behaviour and advise you on possible treatments.