Posted by: | November 4, 2011

GROSS! Why does your dog eat poop?


Learning and understanding dog behavior seems like a never ending process.  It’s one of my true passions in life, so I am completely fascinated with it.  Dogs have many different personalities and behavioral traits.

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me “eating poop is something all dogs do,”  I’d have around $119.  Give or take a few.  But the real truth is no, it is not.

Coprophagia, the clinical term for eating feces, may be caused by many different reasons.  There is no one definitive reason to explain why your dog is eating feces.  But just like any ill dog behavior, before it can be corrected, we must know WHY it is happening.

The most common reason believed to cause Coprophagia is a poor diet.  If the dog is being fed a very low-quality dog food, there may only be a slight difference in taste between the food and feces.  Many low-quality dog foods do not contain the essential vitamins and nutrients your dog needs.  The slight amount of nutrients the food does contain will most likely pass through without being digested.  Therefore, the nutrients may actually be in the feces.  In this case, it is most likely that your dog is attracted to the nutrients.

If you are feeding your dog a low-quality dog food, it is recommended that you upgrade to a premium-quality food for your dog.  Remember the rule of convenience.  If a pet’s food can be conveniently found (at the grocery store, convenience store, etc.), it is typically a very poor quality food.

I recommend label reading.  Know which ingredients should NOT be in your dog’s food (corn, wheat, soy).

Your dog most likely doesn’t think of poop as a preferred cuisine.

Another reason why this may be happening is that dogs which come from pet stores or puppy mills may have eaten poop regularly because they weren’t often given enough food.  If they grew up eating it regularly as a puppy, this may be a difficult habit to break.

Also, if the dog isn’t getting enough stimulation throughout the day, it may be bored.  Make sure your dog receives a sufficient amount of walks throughout the day.  Dogs have a naturally anxious energy.  If this energy isn’t released, it may most likely lead to trouble (barking, chewing, poop eating, etc.).

One important thing to remember is that although this behavior is disgusting, they should NEVER be punished for it.


Dogs who have been punished for going potty in the house may learn to eat the evidence to avoid punishment.  This can lead to a regular behavior of Coprophagia.  Also, they may see this as a way of getting attention.  Remember that ANY attention is good attention from a dog’s point of view.  Even though you are disgusted, avoid screaming and chasing after them.  They may think of this as a game.

Eating feces is probably the most disgusting thing your dog can do.  But remember to find out why this is happening, work to correct it, and love them regardless.

The best way to make sure your dog doesn’t eat it’s own feces is to remove it immediately.  The instant your dog goes, bag it.  Your dog can’t eat what isn’t there.

Thanks for caring!

Tim Heise
– Certified Pet Care Specialist
Absolute Pet Care, LLC
Scottsdale, AZ


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