Ewwww!! My dog is eating poop!
You are sitting in the family room watching television when your pooch comes trotting up to give you kisses, then you notice the beard of what looks like… cat litter? Then it clicks. “Gross!”
So why do dogs eat poop? There are many theories. Some people say they do it because it tastes good. Some believe that dogs are trying to supplement missing nutrients in their diet. Others say dogs just do it to see our reactions when they show off their littery faces or when they eat their own poop. My dog eats “almond roca” all the time. She used to show off that she got a treat out of the litter box, but now she sneaks around and grabs one while we are not paying attention, or when we all go to bed. She’s addicted.
This behavior, yes it has an actual name, is called coprophagia. Basically, it is the behavior of eating foreign things. These items that are eaten can be as simple as grass, dirt, hair, rocks, and poop; to more dangerous items such as keys, socks, nails and screws, or even shards of glass. If your dog has this behavioral issue, always first consult your veterinarian. Your vet can prescribe a blood test to make sure they are not nutritionally missing anything the animals may be trying to supplement themselves.
If there is nothing medically wrong with your dog, then it is time to look at behavioral issues. So how do you stop your pooch from eating poop? There are as many “cures” as there are theories as to why they do it. I have tried numerous things, and I will tell you which ones seemed to work and which did not.
When I first found my dog eating cat poop, I scolded her and put her outside. As her disgusting habit continued, more drastic measures were taken. I put up a fireplace barrier around the box to hopefully dissuade her from snacking…that was broken. I tried sneaking up on her while she was “in the act” and scold her…she now sneaks it at night. I have used a product called Bitter Apple. This product is a chewing deterrent to prevent pets from chewing on things they shouldn’t. As the name suggests, it tastes and smells like a bitter apple. I used to spray this on the clumps of litter in the box before I go to bed, but the cats didn’t like the smell so they started pooping out of the box.
I then decided to get a door stop for the bathroom door (where the litter box is) to prevent my dog from getting into the bathroom, but keeping the door open enough for the cats to get in. This worked for a while until my sister slammed into the bathroom door in the middle of the night.
Another suggestion I have heard is an Indoor Invisible Fence. This device is actually a good idea, even though it is really expensive. Basically, it is a barrier that is paired with a collar you put on your dog. When the dog walks into the area close to where the invisible fence is set up, the collar gives off a high-frequency tone. This “fence” is moveable and can be put anywhere in your home. The company requires a technician to come to your house and work with you to come up with a system that is suitable for your situation.
So far, the solution I have come up with is this: I have kept the fireplace barrier around the litter box in the bathroom, and have added a second piece of wood that goes low enough so the cats can still get into the litter box, but the dog cannot. I have also taken the second litter box in the
den, turned it around and placed it between two cabinets with a space on one side. That way, the dog cannot get her head into the box, but the cats can still get by and into the box from the wall side. I am sure by now you are thoroughly confused as to how I seem to have solved the problem. There are some photos attached of the litter box in the bathroom and the one in the den. I have also given my dog a rawhide bone to chew on. This keeps her occupied and gives her something to chew on that tastes good and is healthier for her than poop.
Litter Box in Den
Remember, your dog is very smart and will come up with ways to get at the poop that you may not have thought of. It may be frustrating at times to figure out how to prevent your dog from getting at it. The solution I came up with took nearly 5 years to reach. You are smarter than your dog and can come up with a solution that will work. It will help to talk to your vet and get many opinions on what to do to stop the behavior.