Why do dogs eat poop? Let’s not beat around the bush about why you’re here. I’m thinking it’s for one of two reasons: Your dog eats poop or you’re just generally curious why dogs eat poop (shouldn’t you be working?!).
Either way, you’re in the right place.
So why do dogs eat poop? Dogs eat poop for one of these six reasons:
- It’s instinctual.
- They don’t want to get in trouble (so they hide the evidence).
- Health issues or low quality dog food.
- They’re modeling after other dogs.
- You suck at being a dog owner.
- They like it.
Keep reading to diagnose why your dog is eating poop, but most importantly use one (or all 5) natural tactic to stop your dog’s unhealthy poop-eating habit.
The thought of any animal deliberately putting poop inside their mouth brings out a small twinge of disgust in all of us.
“deliberately putting poop inside their mouth”
…made my inner ten-year-old giggle at first, but my stomach quickly cramped up at the thought of poop being eaten.
You may have the sweetest dog on the planet – a dog that cuddles you on cold nights, obeys every command, and helps you pick up chicks – but none of that matters if they lick you with their poop-mouth.
Instead of enjoying cuddling with your little buddy, you’re worried that he might lick your face in the morning with that God-awful foul tongue. Or maybe you cringe after he licks an unknowing stranger’s hand but are unable to let them know what a disgusting habit your little guy has.
But he’s your little guy.
You want him to lick your face and be the first thing you see in the morning.
You don’t want to vomit after smelling his breath anymore.
You don’t want to pretend that he’s not your dog at the dog park when he’s gulping down chunks of the brown stuff.
No, no he’s not mine.
I don’t know why he’s following me!
Whose dog is this!?
To put a stop to this behavior, we first have to examine why your dog is doing it.
Understanding the reason behind a behavior is key to solving the problem. There might actually be a really simple solution to your dog’s poop eating habit, or there might be more serious reasons why your dog is doing it.
Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?
Reason #1: It’s Instinctual
I feel like this is the main reason behind a lot of dog behavior.
It’s easy to think of your dog as a domesticated sweetheart and a member of the family (which he is), but he’s got some cold, hard wild stuff in his blood. No, he’s not going to murder you in the middle of the night, but he has instinctual tendencies that have likely been passed on to him even after hundreds of years of evolution.
Your dog’s ancestors were primarily scavengers. They were opportunistic and munched on whatever they could find and yes, that includes poop. This was especially true when times were tough and food was hard to come by.
One important thing that human owners sometimes forget is that your dog doesn’t have what you might call a “refined palate.” They’re not seeking out slightly nutty flavors or smoked ham instead of the regular stuff.
They really don’t care.
They’ll pretty much eat anything (but that doesn’t mean that they should eat everything.) So it’s really not a stretch to assume that they might gobble up a pile of number 2 if it pleases them in the moment.
Another instinctual occurrence happens with mothers and puppies.
In the wild, if puppies are too young to venture out and explore, they’ll rip a stinky one right in the den. That stink might attract predators, so the mother will eat her puppies poo during this stage of life.
Now that’s love right there.
In addition, the puppies might observe this behavior and copy their mother.
The birth of a poop-eating habit that spans generations.
Reason #2: Dogs Take Cues from You
Despite what you may think, dogs are extremely smart when it comes to social cues they receive from you.
They are incredibly adept at reading the slightest emotion that passes over your face. It only takes one look at where you keep his food to get him excited. A smile from you can make his tail wag. He’s reading you all the time.
Which brings us to the second reason why your dog eats poop.
It’s a common belief that the best way to house train a dog is to rub their nose in their doo-doo to express your displeasure. If you’re one of those who believe this is effective, boy do I have news for you.
But firstly, what the hell?
Just think about this for a second:
You’re shoving a living thing’s nose in its own shit.
Would you want me to shove your nose in your poop?
When we potty train our children and they come to us in the middle of the night after wetting the bed, do we body slam them into their urine-soaked sheets and yell, “NO! No, Johnny! Bad boy!”
Of course not! So why do people do this with their dogs?
The results of this medieval punishment can actually backfire on you in the most unpleasant of ways.
Because you’re scolding your dog and literally rubbing one of his most delicate features in his sh*t, you’re going to scare him.
The next time he poops in the house, he might panic. The thought of his own excrement shoved up his nostrils might be too much to bear.
So what’s a dog to do in this situation?
Hide the evidence, of course.
And thus, you have yourself a habitual poop-eater and a still un-house trained dog.
If you’re one of these people who believe in this dated method of house training, take a look here for some better ways to do it.
In the same vein, be careful with the amount of attention you give this kind of behavior. Any attention given to your dog, whether it’s good or bad, is attention. Dogs seek our attention, especially if they’re on their own for most of the day, and they may see this as an opportunity to get you to notice them.
If a dog is eating poop to get you to interact with him, I’m going to go ahead and say you’re not a great person.
Reason #3: Health Issues & Dog Food
People are quick to write off poop eating as a health related habit.
They believe that an improper diet may be to blame and that the dog is simply trying to receive nutrients it isn’t getting from its food. There is some truth to this, although it’s pretty rare for your dog to eat poo for this reason.
Commercial diets that we feed our dogs today tend to be lacking in nutrients. Excluding high quality dog food, most foods don’t contain what your dog needs. They’re stuffed with fillers and chemicals instead of whole meats and vitamins.
Your dog can definitely be affected by this sub-par diet and might even go looking for some added nutrients – in the form of already-digested-once poop. They give it a second run-through to take in those wasted vitamins and nutrients.
Other than diet, there are legitimate health reasons why your dog might be eating poo. Some dogs with severe disorders of the pancreas will engage in this behavior.
Also, dogs that suffer from malabsorption syndromes or parasitic infections can also consume feces.
Diseases that cause an increase in appetite – such as diabetes, Cushing’s disease, and thyroid disease – might result in a dog seeking to fulfill that appetite any way they can.
Reason #4: Monkey See, Monkey Doo-Doo
Dogs are social animals.
There’s no denying that most dogs will seek out another dog’s company, if only for those few minutes you spend at the dog park. Their play might consist of excited jumping around, butts raised up in the air, and excessive tail wagging.
One thing about being so social is that dogs tend to pick up behaviors they see other dogs exhibiting. If your dog sees another eating poo, they might take a stab at it too.
In a way, we do the same thing.
If you see someone start dancing at a club, you might feel the urge to join in.
Or let’s say you witness someone doing cocaine in the club’s bathroom. Before you know it, you’re 40 years old in a truck stop bathroom doing a line off a germ-ridden toilet thinking about all the mistakes you made in life.
I got a little off track there. But you get my point:
We tend to engage in activities that others do simply because we’re social animals. You and your dog are more alike than you thought.
Reason #5: You Suck at Being an Owner
After a bit of research, I discovered that another reason a dog might be eating poo is because they’re either starving, severely malnourished, or just generally neglected.
I understand that there are stray dogs out there where these things are possibilities. It’s depressing and puts me in a mood to go down to my local shelter and adopt all the dogs, then go to the next shelter and just accept my life as a dog hoarder.
But let me just say this:
If you’re here seeking answers to why your dog is eating poop, yet you leave him tied up outside in the rain or “forget” to feed him for a few days, do me a favor and go f*@# yourself.– My rant to deadbeat dog owners
Seriously, there is no excuse for neglecting a dog.
Don’t have money to take care of him? Then take him to a place that does, you selfish idiot.
Reason #6: They Like It
Just like some people enjoy eating liver or cauliflower, some dogs enjoy dining on bowel brownies.
What else can I say?
Sometimes that’s just the way it is.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop? Here are 5 Natural Ways
Way #1: Remove the Source
Perhaps the first thing you should try is simply cleaning up after your dog.
If you live in an apartment and your dog uses the world as his bathroom, you should probably be doing this already. If not, you’re the jerk that didn’t pick up the sh*t that’s now on the bottom of my shoe.
But I understand that if you have a home with a big yard, it may be difficult to track when and where your dog does his business. You’ll just have to be diligent about it for a while. If you see him drop one, go out there and pick it up.
This is especially important for families who own more than one dog. Multiple dog homes are more likely to have dogs that engage in this behavior, simply because dogs won’t typically eat their own poo.
Nothing demonstrates friendship more than providing your closest friends with some of your sh*t, right?
And if your dog is fond of cat poop as I know lots of dogs are, block your dog from accessing it. Baby gates are a powerful tool and your cat is more than capable of scaling them. Your dog, however, isn’t.
Way #2: Exercise and Play Regularly
All dogs need some amount of exercise and play.
Some dogs need more than others and if this need is not fulfilled, they may resort to mischievous behaviors.
If they’re pooped out (pun intended), they might not think about eating that pile of poo that your asshole neighbor didn’t pick up.
Way #3: Provide a Proper Diet
If you haven’t already, read up on some of our articles about what your dog needs in his diet and high quality dog foods.
You are what you eat, as they say, and the same holds true for your dog.
If they’re dietary needs are fulfilled, they may not choose to use poop as their daily multivitamin anymore.
Hint-Hint: If you’re not sure if broccoli (or any other human food) is safe for your dog, check out our human food for dogs article (200+ foods!).
Way #4: Avoid Excessive Punishment
Don’t rub your dog’s nose in his poo.
This goes for yelling and scolding the dog as well.
If you catch your dog in the act of pooping or peeing in the house, only then is it recommended to disrupt them by giving them a firm:
But after they complete the act, don’t punish them.
It’s already done, and the best thing to do is clean it up fast and clean it up well. If they smell what they did later on, they might be more apt to make another deposit in the same place.
Way #5: Go to the Vet
Perhaps the most important thing you should do before making any rash decisions is to talk to your vet.
Express your concerns about Buddy’s little habit and see what they have to say.
His age, health conditions, or breed may make him more susceptible to undesirable habits.
Just like us, dogs are living things with their own personality traits, habits, and behaviors.
While you may love some of your dog’s habits (like cuddling or licking your face in the morning) there might also be some habits that can drive you crazy (like eating his sh*t and chewing your shoes).
Before you get frustrated with your dog, stop and think about what may be causing this behavior.
Is it because you leave him in his crate for 10 hours a day?
Or could he be anxious after you go to work?
Could it be that you’re not feeding him enough?
Are you a low-life jerk that leaves him tied to a post all day long and rarely interacts with him?
Whatever the reason, if your dog eats poop, you need to stop the habit. No one thinks your adorable little Corgi is actually adorable after watching him mow down on a pile of sh*t.