Coprophagy: Why Does My Dog Eats Poop?
Publish Date: May 8th, 2020; Author: Darren M. Jorgenson.
Your cheeks. Your ears. Your eyebrow. Your lips. Your nose…And then you smell it.
You wonder where is it coming from because your little bundle of joy has just come in from playing and doing her “stuff” outside somewhere on the lawn where you will either find it and pick it up or, more likely, you will locate it by stepping — squish! — right into it.
So you check her paws, her back end and her tummy where she might have rolled in some of her own poop. But you cannot find it anywhere on her body.
Then she licks you again, right on the nose, and you suddenly know why you smelled poop on her.
Your little bundle of joy has been eating her own poop!
Why Your Dog Eats Her Own Poop?
or, The Lost Culinary Art of Coprophagy – Blech!
Dogs are kind of funny creatures. For one thing, they practice coprophagy — the eating of poop. But we think of dogs as almost human. We ascribe emotions to them that they most likely aren’t even feeling. We talk to them like they are our children. We feed them better food than we sometimes eat, some people also feeding their faithful companion from a fork.
But they are not human. Far from it. They are domesticated animals whose heritage derives from ancient wild dogs that humans tamed and began to raise for their work and their companionship. They are still animals with ancestral roots reaching far back through time.
So why do they eat poop? Wouldn’t any animal who seems as smart as a dog understand instinctively that eating poop must be bad for their health — not to mention their breath?
There are numerous reasons that a dog might eat poop, and in this blog, we are going to look at the most prevalent theories as to why an otherwise seemingly ordinary dog might participate in this behavior.
Is Your Dog Bored?
This can be one of the most common reasons why your dog might be eating her poop. A dog needs almost constant physical and emotional and intellectual stimulation to remain healthy and well adjusted. For the most part, human owners neglect to provide enough stimulation in the way of toys and things to do. So there is your little bundle of joy, set outside to play by herself (just like when we plant our children in front of the television because it is a natural babysitter) without any toys to play with. Oh, sure. There might be a ball and a frisbee and maybe a squeaky toy or two, but balls and frisbees require a human partner to play with adequately, and Squeaky toys get old quite soon.
So what is there to play with when there is an absence of toys but an abundance of poop — in all stages of drying and disintegrating?
Do you now see how your otherwise seemingly well-adjusted Cockapoo — no wait! That’s a bird, but you know what I mean — might resort to munching down on some highly organic treats?
What to do?
Try providing her with more stimulation. Buy her more and more exciting toys. Spoil her curiosity. Think of how many toys most children receive to stimulate their interest. Maybe Maybelle doesn’t need that many toys, but maybe close to it.
And try getting up off your but and taking her for a long walk once a day — and not just around the block! Nothing stimulates your dog’s curiosity like a pleasant, brisk, and refreshing walk. Try changing up your route, too. How boring to walk the same path every day.
Is She Eating Her Poops Because She Needs More Attention?
Let’s face it. Most dogs get neither the amount of attention they need, nor do they get the attention they desire. Think about this scenario: you come home from work with your arms loaded with groceries and you are opening your front door just as you are putting your keys back in your pocket when suddenly Maybelle jumps up on you almost knocking you over. Of course, you are pissed, and Maybelle’s barking doesn’t help. And she won’t stop jumping and barking and barking and jumping until you’ve had enough and you scream out at her — something neither of you likes.
So you open the patio door for Maybelle to rush out. But she doesn’t. She holds back, continuing to bark. Finally, you get her outside for some peace.
It is while you are washing up carrots for dinner that you look out the kitchen window, just in time to see Maybelle eating her poop!
Could this have been avoided?
Possibly. If Maybelle’s behavior is like many other dogs, then she is eating her poops out of a deep-seated desire for attention. Would it have taken too much from you to put down your bags the moment you crossed the threshold to your home and given Maybelle some of that loving she craves so much?
A dog’s greatest desire is to love their master AND to get love from their master. Since you did not provide the love and attention she needed when you came home, she is now almost “acting out” (if we were to ascribe human psychological readings to dogs, that is, which I am loath to do).
What to do?
Give her the love and attention she both needs and deserves.
When you decided to own a dog, you accepted the responsibility to care for her — fully, including providing her with all the love and attention she needs. Now, some dogs are indeed quite needy, and the more you give, it never seems to be enough. But most dogs are more well-adjusted than that. But you probably are not providing enough of that needed attention.
So step up on the belly rubs. Show your dog you love her dearly and that she is the apple of your eye. This might go a long way for changing the behavior.
Okay. Let’s talk about a hard truth now.
Many, many, many dogs are cruelly beaten for behavioral infractions. I hate to admit it, and I hate to think about it, and I REALLY hate to imagine it happening — but it happens more than we realize. And sometimes it’s not even abused through beatings. Sometimes repeatedly screaming at a dog can cause lasting damage to their psyche. When this abuse happens rather than teaching the dog right from wrong, it shows the dog to fear their master (or whoever is abusing her).
This, in turn, leads to the dog engaging in behaviors that are either designed to retaliate in however they can, or avoidance techniques.
Eating her own poop might fall into this scenario. If Maybelle is so frightened from being repeatedly beaten every time she made an accident in the house, she may then decide that it is safer for her not to leave any evidence around of her normal bodily functions, like pooping. So instead of getting beaten again (even if she now only goes outside to do her stuff), she chooses to consume her every poop.
Hey if it would keep me from being beaten by my step-father again, then I might eat it, too. Or I can at least see the logic.
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What to do?
Don’t beat your dog!!!
It’s as simple as that. Don’t give your dog any reason to fear you.
Dogs are our best friends for many reasons. One of them is the unconditional love they give. Well, give that same quality back. That’s what she desires, needs, and deserves.
Check Her Diet
Some believe a dog eats her poop because she lacks something in her nutrition. In other words, she is performing this behavior to bulk up on her vitamin B12 or some such thing.
What to do?
Quit feeding her those cheap brands of dog food that you buy at Wal-Mart and the corner store. Instead, quit smoking (or some other such habit) and use your saved cash to buy your loving companion some high-quality food from an actual pet store. This should help fix the problem if some directional deficiency causes it.
One last reason your Maybelle might be eating poop is to keep the area from smelling too much. The reason for this is to keep predators away. Predators are often lured by the smell of animal waste, like urine and feces. A dog will eat up the available poops to keep it safe for the whole pack. For example, Your toilet breaks and won’t flush. You know you can flush it with a pail of water, so you leave your waste behind, floating in a disgusting array of yesterday’s food choices.
So you walk out to the garage to get a pail, and upon your return you find Maybelle with her head stuffed deep into the toilet bowl, eating away your poop!
Yes, yes, I know it is highly disgusting. But this is a perfect example of how a dog will eat feces to keep the entire pack safe.
What to do?
Flush your toilet. If, for some reason you cannot, then leave the lid of the toilet seat down if you walk away. Or close the bathroom door tightly. And put some books on top of the toilet seat to weigh it down because dogs are notoriously adept at lifting these lids.
Dogs eat poop for multiple reasons. It isn’t always easy to disentangle the multiplicity of the idea that dogs do what they do. But with enough diligence and love and affection, you may be able to change your dog’s nasty habit. Good luck.
About Post Author
Darren M. Jorgensen has a fondness for all animals, though dogs especially, have a huge home in his heart. He enjoys quilting, making handcrafted soap and bodyworks and anything that produces practical products. Jorgensen lives with his own service dog who doubles as an Emotional Support Animal. He gets it.