But there are a number of reasons that drive our dogs to perform this behaviour and we should be looking at why our dog finds this behaviour rewarding rather than reading all the 'magic' solutions on the internet, ranging from pineapple juice, pepper to garlic in their food.. In many cases the underlying motivation is one of nutrition., for others it is attention seeking.
It is necessary to look at the reasons that may drive your dogs poo eating in order to resolve it.
1. The Right Diet
- Getting your dog's diet right for them can be challenging but every dog is an individual and what suits one may not suit another
- Changing a dog's diet should be done gradually over the period of least a week to avoid tummy upsets
- Many cases are just because a dog is actually hungry and we need to look at whether we are feeding the right quantities. The advice of a Canine Nutritionist such as Claire at The Pet Corner has been invaluable for many of our clients
- Bored or lonely dogs often just try this behaviour and find it rewarding. It 'tastes good'
- Ensure your dog has lots of interactive toys and things to stimulate his mind as well as physical exercise. A lack of mental exercise is very often at the root of many behaviour problems I see in my Behaviour work.
- We are big fans of scent work and foraging games and 'scatter feeding' in your garden can be a huge success for your dog. It is a quick and easy win for you too. Throwing your dog's kibble over your garden and helping him 'find it' initially is one of the simplest and easiest scent activities we know! After a few times your dog gets it and happily will search your garden for his dinner using up loads of energy!
- It has to be the fastest way a dog can get our attention and they work this out super quick! We run from the house to the garden like an Olympic runner and make lots of high pitched 'exciting' noises too
- Research tells us that Copraphagia is best tackled through prevention and management . Accompany your dog to toilet at all times and keeping him on a lead ( can be a longer lead than his usual one) so you can divert him away from it immediately.
- Increasing higher value rewards for his 'spending' often helps too and not just food. Maybe he loves a ball and you can get his attention away so therefore beginning to build new habits around toileting
- Stay calm, pick up quickly after he has done it but don't make it a drama or a race!
- Some clever dogs work it out that a combination of their poo eating + human response = bad things. This often results in them eating their evidence faster and usually before you can get to it, in order to dispose of it .
- Stopping all punishment and finding those 'moments' where you can reward them for more positive, alternative behaviours is your goal. Even moving one step back from the source or moving one tiny step towards you after they have gone to the loo are great opportunities to begin a different strategy with your dog. . It may be a tiny step but it is first step, after a few weeks of careful management but it is a start .
- Missing those reward moments comes from our own frustration but remembering that it is much more effective to reward good behaviour from our dogs than it is to try and punish bad behaviour.