Eating faeces. An owner’s least and a dog’s most favourite behaviour!
Firstly, it actually is quite normal. As repulsive as it is to us, eating faeces played a role in how dogs evolved; when humans transitioned from hunter-gatherers to agriculture, human settlements arose. Our beloved canine’s ancestors began to approach these areas because dumps and latrines provided a stable source of food. So eating faeces is essentially part of their DNA. That said, it’s not a something that we want to encourage so it’s best to try to stop it.
There are a few reasons why your dog may engage in this behaviour:
Before trying to “train” the behaviour away, physical reasons need to be ruled out by a veterinarian. From the behavioural side, management and redirection are key. Adding nasty tastes to the faeces rarely works to stop the behaviour.
The first step is to clean up any faeces as soon as your dog eliminates. The second is to redirect to a more appropriate activity. There are tons of enrichment ideas on the Beyond The Bowl - Canine Enrichment group (
), which will help to elevate boredom and provide a more appropriate way for your dog to pass the time.
TOP TIP: If you make a huge fuss over your dog each time they go near a poo (i.e. No no no! Don’t eat that! Bad dog! Get back here!), this attention can reinforce the behaviour. Instead, calmly call your dog away and provide a brain game or chew toy (away from that area) to keep them busy while you clear away the mess.