Understanding Why Dogs Eat Poop and Effective Ways to Curb the Habit

July 11, 2023

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Understanding Why Dogs Eat Poop and Effective Ways to Curb the Habit


It's a behavior that leaves many dog owners bewildered, disgusted, and even worried - why on earth do our beloved canine companions engage in the repulsive act of eating poop? Coprophagia, the scientific term for this habit, is more common than you might think, and while it's certainly unpleasant, there are reasons behind this behavior. In this blog, we will explore the possible causes of why dogs eat poop and provide effective strategies to help you curb this gross habit.

Understanding the Reasons:

  1. Instinctual Behavior: In the wild, canines are natural scavengers, and consuming feces may have served as a survival mechanism. By eating the feces of other animals, dogs could extract undigested nutrients from the waste. Although domesticated dogs no longer need to rely on this behavior for sustenance, the instinct may still linger.
  2. Nutritional Deficiencies: A dog's diet plays a significant role in their overall well-being. If a dog's diet lacks certain essential nutrients or is poorly balanced, they may resort to eating feces to obtain those missing elements. Ensuring that your dog receives a nutritionally complete and balanced diet is crucial in preventing coprophagia.
  3. Boredom and Attention-Seeking: Dogs are intelligent creatures and require mental stimulation to stay happy and content. When left alone for extended periods or not provided with sufficient mental and physical exercise, dogs can become bored and seek out unusual behaviors, including eating feces. This behavior may serve as a way to gain attention or alleviate boredom.
  4. Stress, Anxiety, or Medical Conditions: Stress, anxiety, and certain medical conditions can also contribute to coprophagia in dogs. Dogs experiencing separation anxiety, fear, or frustration may resort to eating feces as a coping mechanism. Additionally, underlying medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal disorders or enzyme deficiencies, can impact a dog's digestion, leading to the attraction of feces.

Ways to Curb the Habit:

  1. Provide a Nutritious Diet: Consult your veterinarian to ensure that your dog's diet is nutritionally balanced. High-quality commercial dog food or a well-planned homemade diet can help meet your dog's nutritional needs and reduce the likelihood of coprophagia. Avoid feeding your dog low-quality or inadequate diets.
  2. Clean Up Promptly: Prevention is key. Be diligent in promptly cleaning up after your dog, both in your yard and during walks. Removing the opportunity for your dog to engage with feces decreases the likelihood of them developing the habit.
  3. Increase Mental and Physical Stimulation: A bored dog is more likely to engage in unwanted behaviors. Ensure your dog receives enough mental and physical exercise through activities like puzzle toys, obedience training, interactive play, and regular walks. This will keep them mentally stimulated, physically active, and less inclined to engage in coprophagia.
  4. Positive Reinforcement: When you catch your dog avoiding feces or engaging in other desired behaviors, reward them with praise, treats, or playtime. Positive reinforcement reinforces good behavior and helps shift their focus away from the habit of eating poop.
  5. Address Underlying Medical or Behavioral Issues: If you suspect that your dog's coprophagia is due to an underlying medical condition or behavioral issue, consult with your veterinarian or a qualified animal behaviorist. They can assess your dog's health, behavior, and environment to develop a tailored plan to address the issue.


While it may seem like an unsightly and unpleasant habit, dogs eating poop is a behavior that can be addressed with patience, consistency, and understanding. By identifying the underlying causes and implementing effective strategies, you can help your dog overcome this gross habit and ensure their overall well-being. Remember, if you're concerned or unsure about your dog's behavior, consult a professional for guidance tailored to your specific situation.