Dogs have an incredibly heightened sense of smell, and they can root out many things that human noses are blind to – including other dogs’ poop. This smell can be salivating to dogs, and they will have an intense desire to eat it.
While this is normal behavior, it is incredibly gross, especially to those who love sloppy kisses from their dogs. Let’s explore some of the common reasons why your dog eats poop on walks and steps you can take to stop them. The act of eating poop is called coprophagia, and there are a lot of theories on why your dog may be doing this.
Much like humans, mother dogs have strong protective instincts. In those first few weeks of life, that may include eating poop to help keep their puppies from getting into trouble while keeping their living areas clean.
Puppies are using their mouths to explore, and they will eat anything – including poop. While eating their own feces is gross, it is seemingly harmless; however, once they start eating others, that could be dangerous. That’s when your dog can pick up parasites, viruses, toxins, or even have an allergic reaction if an allergen is in the feces.
When our dogs aren’t properly stimulated, they will act out in ways to amuse themselves and get our attention. Unfortunately, eating poop is one of those common ways. After all, this gross behavior will get your attention quickly, and because of that, it may inadvertently reinforce your dog’s poop-eating behavior.
Your dog may not be getting all the vitamins and enzymes it needs to grow and develop, and eating poop is one way they will seek them out. If this is the case, you’ll want to consult with your vet to switch their food. This will help fill some of the nutritional gaps in your dog’s diet and help stop poop from smelling so appetizing to your dog.
In some cases, eating poop can be a symptom of a more serious health condition, including pica, which is when your dog eats non-food items. If this behavior starts suddenly, you may want to consult with a vet to rule out anything serious.
No matter how delicious poop may seem to your dog, you will want to curb this behavior lest it leads to serious problems. The most important command that your dog can learn is to leave it. While you may need treats or another distraction to break their concentration, leave it will be a critical tool in your arsenal to stop this behavior.
While on a walk, always make sure your dog is leashed so that you can keep them away from things they shouldn’t eat. Lastly, make sure that you pick up after your dog. They can be drawn back to their own scent too, so it is important that you don’t leave a trail for them to follow!
Use positive reinforcement to distract your dog over punishment, and they should stop eating poop on walks with time and patience.