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Why Do Dogs Eat Poop?

If you've ever caught your dog eating poop and wondered why they do it, you're not alone. This behavior, known as coprophagia, can be puzzling and unpleasant for pet parents. Here’s what you need to know about why dogs eat poop and how to address it.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs eat poop for both normal and abnormal reasons.

  • It’s common for dogs to eat the poop of other species but unusual for them to eat their own or another dog's poop.

  • Positive reinforcement and redirection can help stop this behavior.

Why Dogs Eat Poop

Dogs eat poop for various reasons. While some are normal, others might indicate an underlying issue. For example, it’s somewhat typical for dogs to eat the poop of other species, but it's uncommon for adult dogs to eat their own or other dogs' poop.

Normal Reasons Why Dogs Eat Poop

  1. Nursing Behavior: Nursing female dogs often eat the poop of their young to keep the den clean.

  2. Instinctual Behavior: Studies suggest that dogs might inherit this behavior from wolves, who eat fresh poop to prevent fecal-borne parasites from contaminating their den.

  3. Taste and Nutrients: Dogs sometimes eat the poop of other animals because it contains undigested nutrients that appeal to them.

Abnormal Reasons Why Dogs Eat Poop

  1. Attention-Seeking: Some dogs learn to eat poop to get attention from their owners, often seeing it as a game or way to interact.

  2. Health Issues: Dogs might eat poop if they're not feeling well or have conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract, liver, or brain. This behavior can be associated with symptoms like weight loss, lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea.

  3. Anxiety: Dogs with anxiety might eat poop as a displacement behavior. This can happen if they're confined, anxious about being alone, or lacking enrichment activities.

  4. Fear of Punishment: Dogs may eat their poop to avoid punishment for having accidents in the house, especially if they've been scolded for it in the past.

How to Stop a Dog From Eating Poop

Once you've identified why your dog is eating poop, you can take steps to prevent and address the behavior.

Preventing Access

  • Immediate Clean-Up: When housetraining your puppy, take them out on a consistent schedule and clean up their stool right away.

  • Barrier Methods: Use pet gates or elevated litter boxes to keep dogs away from cat poop.

Behavioral Solutions

  • Positive Reinforcement: Use treats and praise to reward your dog for not eating poop. Distract them with a toy or a command like "come" or "sit" after they defecate.

  • Leash Training: Keep your dog on a leash during potty breaks to guide them away from their stool.

Anxiety and Confinement

  • Modify Environment: Adjust confinement spaces to reduce anxiety. Provide more puzzle toys or a larger, quieter area.

  • Professional Help: Seek help from a veterinary behaviorist if your dog’s anxiety is severe or they have separation anxiety.

Medical Solutions

  • Veterinary Check-Up: Have your vet examine your dog for any underlying health issues that might be causing the behavior.

  • Dietary Adjustments: Ensure your dog’s diet meets all their nutritional needs, which might help reduce coprophagia.


  • Taste Aversion Products: Use supplements designed to make poop taste unpleasant to dogs. These can be part of a broader strategy to deter poop eating.

By understanding why your dog might be eating poop and taking steps to address the root cause, you can help curb this behavior. For more information and resources on caring for your dog, visit

why do dogs eat poop
why do dogs eat poop


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