Several years ago, I purchased a beautiful, loving dog from a breeder. At the time, I had several other female dogs and they all went out together for playtime. Within one week, two puppies, and three adult dogs began eating their own poo after being housed with the new dog. I was in shock. In almost 30 years of breeding dogs, I didn't even know this condition existed. Gross!! After talking to my vet, doing a TON of online research, and doing my own "Coprophagia" experiment, this is what I've learned..... First, it is NOT a nutritional deficiency that causes this condition. I feed a professional dog food topped with dehydrated raw, supplements, salmon oil, dehydrated veggies and more. It is not going to be cured by topping a dog's food with some sort of a deterrent. It is nothing more than a bad habit. This condition occurs in three stages. Puppies can begin the behavior by playing with poo, and then graduating to eating it. At this stage it is SUPER easy to correct. Second stage is in dogs over a year, Your starting to get into troubled waters at this point, but it can still be corrected if your extremely diligent. Older dogs are much harder to break of the habit, but its not impossible. This behavior can also be learned from other dogs (happened to me) so if you have a multi-dog household, you will have to treat/train all members of your fur family. This is the method we use to correct the condition...... 1. Start topping your dog's food with a digestive enzyme/probiotic. We want to make sure their food is fully digested, and less palatable. We recommend Legitpet Probiotics with Enzymes, or Purina Pro Plan FortiFlora. Both can be found on Chewy or Amazon. Make sure you are feeding an EXCELLENT quality dog food. We have recommendations if you need help picking the perfect food for your baby. 2. NO UNSUPERVISED INDOOR PEE PADS OR LITTER BOXES. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you leave your dog alone with his own feces at any time, you are creating the opportunity to eat poo. The dog/puppy must have supervised (on leash) potty time to begin correcting the behavior. If the dog attempts to eat poo while on leash, clap your hands loudly and say "leave it." If they potty without attempting to eat it, make sure you have treats on hand to celebrate their good behavior. Treat if they leave it on command as well. If you have a special needs pet, or the weather is too cold in your area, you may set up a playpen, or x-pen indoors with a gate and take your dog to this area to potty. This way you can supervise/train them without exposing them to the elements. However, i cannot stress this enough, no potty unsupervised.
3. Make sure your dog is getting PLENTY of exercise. We do daily walks, supervised play time and treadmill work here at Bayberry Chihuahuas. Tired dogs are well behaved dogs. It is their natural instinct to be in constant motion, foraging, and searching for food.
4. If you must leave the dog for a while, we recommend putting them in an area that they will not potty in such as a crate with a soft bed, if you can take them with you that's even better. Also make sure that your dog's outdoor environment is 100% poo free. Dogs in nasty conditions, surrounded by feces almost guarantees that they will continue the behavior. This training takes a few weeks of VERY diligent supervision, and control over potty time but the reward is many years of not stressing over sickness, and the possibility of parasite from eating poo.
The happy ending happened for me and it can happen for you as well. With two months of constant supervision I am happy to say that this problem is a thing of the past. Don't become discouraged if your dog has a slip up, and by all means don't do the crazy thing of rubbing your dog's nose in it! Just ignore the slip up and continue training. Dog's want nothing more than to please you, and if they realize that not eating poo makes you happy and earns them a treat you've got it in the bag! If you have questions, feel free to drop me a message, and if you have time, fill our our Coprophagia survey to help us continue our research. The link is below. https://form.jotform.com/203532647250046