How to Discourage Copraphagia

Whether you like it or not, dogs like to eat feces.

Feces have the warmth and texture of the food that the bitch regurgitated to them when they were in a litter.  Mother dogs will eat feces in order to conceal the puppy’s presence from predators.

Adult dogs that eat feces might also be regressing as the feces may remind them of the “comfort food” that used to come from mom.  Puppies are also fond of cat feces so it might be a good idea to restrict your dog’s access to any litter boxes that might be in the house. They also enjoy rodent feces and the droppings from hamsters and rabbits.  

It is also been speculated that dog feces might actually be nutritious for a dog in some way, but so far there is no outright scientific proof that feces contain an element or mineral that a dog can’t get in his normal diet.  

Dogs that are scenters like feces because the feces represent the reward at the end of a session of sniffing. The psychological pay off for the dog is a feeling of victory.  Copraphagia is a habit that upsets people more than it does the dogs, possibly because it seems like it is something to be embarrassed about.

Perhaps the easiest way of preventing this is to keep your dog on his leash when he relieves himself and pulling him away if he tries to eat feces afterwards.   You should also discourage him from sniffing the feces.  Another tact is to present him with a treat right after he relieves himself. However this does not always work because often dogs see the feces as a more delicious option.  

You can also try removing feces before the dog can get at it. Mind you, this is more of a way of coping with the ordeal for you then a way of training your dog to not actually consume the stuff!  If the dog is still fond of feces, try teaching your dog not to touch it using the command ‘Off.’ Put your dog on leash and walk him by some feces. If he shows any interest in it, tell him, “Leave it!”

If he continues to go for it, then sharply reprimand him, and pull him away from it with a short, sharp tug on the leash. If he does stop, try and praise him immediately and pop a treat quickly into his mouth.  Another way to convince your dog to cut out this nasty habit would be to cut feces in half, put Tabasco sauce in it, and then put it back together again.

When your dog consumes it he should get the idea that eating feces is not always a good idea.  Putting meat tenderizer in the dog’s food is also supposed to make his own feces less tasty to himself.  It has also been suggested that eating feces might be associated with your pet taking antibiotics. If you think this is the cause of his craving, discuss it with a veterinarian.