HOW TO STOP YOUR DOG EATING ITS OWN POO
This is a natural behaviour which dogs would do in the wild. Many animals, rabbits for instance, also eat their own poo. It is disgusting to us but not to them. Do not be disgusted at your dog. He is merely doing what comes naturally. Some medical disorders may trigger poo eating so veterinary advice, to rule this out, is important. Lincoln University is researching this common problem.
For dogs eating their own, or their housemates’ poo, there are products M&C Stool Repel-Um or For-Bid Coprophagia. These pills taste of yeast when eaten, but by the time they come out of the other end they taste awful. So you give the pill to the dog whose poo will be eaten. Do not use this on pregnant bitches or puppies under 8 weeks old. If you have more than one dog, feed them to both of them. The problem is that they will only stop the dog poo-eating while they are in use. Stop them and the dog will often go back to doing it.
HOW TO STOP YOUR DOG EATING OTHER POO
But for most dogs eating other kinds of mess – cowpats, etc. – or faeces from dogs that can’t be fed the specialist products, try feeding courgettes. A heaped tablespoonful for a Labrador size, less for smaller dogs, will sometimes do the trick. It works for some dogs, but not others. Be wary of pineapple juice, sometimes suggested for this problem, as it may cause gastric upset.
The command “Leave it” will work when the dog is with you and you spot the tempting poo in time. Teaching this takes three stages.
Stage one. Keep a treat in your hand, put your dog into sit, and show him the treat six inches from his nose. As you do this, say “Leave it” firmly. The dog will lunge forward for the treat but you close your hand so he cannot get it. Put him back into sit and do this again and again. At the end of the session say, “good boy, take it” and hand over the treat. Do this daily for a week.
Stage two. Put your dog on a short lead with an ordinary collar, hold the lead, and put the dog into sit, with the lead being short but slack. Throw the treat on the floor. The dog will lunge towards it, and as he does so, you say “Leave it” and hold the lead tight so he cannot reach the treat. Do this four or five times or until the dog no longer lunges, remembering to slacken the lead in between each throw.
Stage three. Walk your dog on the lead past a piece of food saying Leave it” as you pass the food. Do not let the dog reach the food.
“Leave it” will not work when your dog is in thick cover or on its own, because you are not there to intervene. If you are having difficulty teaching this, get the help of a good dog trainer. If the problem is so bad that “Leave it” is not working get the help of a behaviour expert either here or here.
M&C Repel-Um tablets are sold by www.petplanet.co.uk
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All normal safety precautions should be taken when dealing with animals. The advice in this section should be taken only at the owner’s own risk. All sick animals should be seen by a vet.
General advice of the kind found in this website is no substitute for an individual consultation with a vet or qualified behaviourist working on a vet’s referral.