Why Does My Dog Eat Poop ?

23 Oct
I know its a disgusting subject but I get asked this question all the time.
Imagine the scene…your best friend and confidante comes running in from the field or the yard, hair flowing, eyes gleaming, theme from Love story running in the background, and runs towards you to give you a huge kiss. THEN you notice the smear of foul faux chocolate around his chops and ….BLEUGH! Beautiful moment over with!
My own dog Noodle, or, as we call her, ‘the shit eating schnauzer mix’ is a legendary poop imbiber of epic proportions at times. I have tried everything…red pepper flakes on the feces, putting pineapple in her food, giving her yoghurt every meal to improve her digestive system, bananas to increase her potassium level [some say low potassium is the reason, and this works for some dogs], Mineral supplements,Wasabi on the poop piles which are left around as an entrapment device, more meat in the food, less meat in the food, root veggies, more green veggies, wheat grass tablets, monosodium glutamate on the food, you name it, I have tried it.
At the end of the day, I have come to the conclusion that Noodle is going to do it unless I pick it up really quickly, and so I always attempt to get to it before she does.
Why does she do it though? Its vile smelling, it can’t taste very nice and she even seems picky about whose poop she eats! Now I always thought that this last factor was because maybe dogs metabolise food differently and thus she gets more meaty goodness [lol] out of some dogs’ poop than others. However, I have spent the last two months watching and learning from the dogs that we have in here at the ranch, and I have been standing by to watch what happens when dogs have a choice to make…..before steaming in at the last minute with a bag and a loud ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!’ [Imagine me in slow motion, bag waving, slow speech playback…this will be a good shot in the movie of my life when they make it, right? Of course I should like to be played by Salma Hayek or Eva Mendes if anyones interested in how I want it cast].
So, a couple of observations….
 1] Some dogs just plain like the taste of it. Its gross but its true. Answer? Feed your dog better because that certainly doesnt say a lot for your cooking! Ha ha
2] Your dog might have spent the formative months of its life, like Noodle did, in a crate at the shelter until she was four months old, and so learned to clean up after herself the only way she could. This is a natural instinct in  some dogs, mother dogs will lick the poop away from their babies’ rear ends so that the smell does not attract predators who might want to eat her litter. It also stimulates the dogs to eliminate appropriately and ensures a healthy digestive process. A lot of the behavioural consultations I do involve puppy mill dogs who have never been taught to eliminate outside as they have lived in a cage, so, because lying in it is in almost every case undesirable to a dog, they clean up after themselves. This must serve to underline as a good reason to get your dog out of its cage as often as possible when potty training otherwise you are setting up possible bad habits for life.
3]Some of the dogs here will actively seek out poop dropped by a dog that is higher up the pecking order than they are, never lower down. In some weird way, I am beginning to feel like this is an attempt to elevate their status in an indirect, non threatening way rather like the office boy sitting at the big bosses desk and whirling around in his chair, playing with his pencils and drinking from his coffee cup. These dogs normally target Freddie, head canine honcho, so Pete and I always have poop bags handy whenever Freddie goes off in a quiet corner, lol.
4] Dogs that are pretty maternal or paternal even, will very often look to clean the area as if they were looking after their own offspring, and so become the self appointed poop scoopers.
5] Boredom…..people that are unemployed very often sit on the couch eating stuff that they know is no good for them; a bucket of chicken, cheerios, Twizzlers [which is what Im necking back as I sit at my laptop writing this blog] and sometimes they’ll even eat stuff that they don’t like out of boredom. Dogs are very scent driven, have a hard wired need to hunt and work, and bore incredibly easy. Those dogs that under normal circumstances should be  shoulders deep in a foxhole rooting out critters, when asked to just loll around the yard all day are going to get bored. They can then look for things to hunt or at least ‘feel like’ they have hunted! A poop is entirely natural, came out of a body so is more appealing to the dogs olfactory senses, and well, its there for the taking isnt it? Its not running away, its not gonna bite him, its available!
The answer my friends is simply to get to it first and pick it up. And if you think that’s a tough job, Come and walk in mine and Petes shoes for a day, with almost 20 dogs to pick up after…..that’ll quit your complaining!

One Response to “Why Does My Dog Eat Poop ?”

  1. Jennifer Martin February 21, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    Very interesting – One thing I am curious about is why a dog would want to roll around in another dogs poop? I had a pekingese and every time I took her to the dog park, she would roll in poop… Thankfully, my current dogs do not do that 🙂 – Jenn

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