Ask Dr. Chris

Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?

pooping dogQuestion from one of our readers:

My dog will not stop eating his own poop!! I tried giving him pineapple, some meat tenderizer as per vets instructions, forbid…nothing is working. He has the best food on the market, multivitamins and even gets yogurt every day and still no luck. If he goes out in the yard in the morning, he will just poop and eat it right away without us even knowing until his breath smells! Any ideas?


This is a great question and one that many other readers would be interested in hearing about!

When your dog eats its own or another animal’s feces (cat feces are irresistible to all dogs), it is a difficult and disgusting problem to deal with. I feel your pain as my own german shepherd, Jake, used to do the same thing. The scientific name for this behavior is coprophagia and despite what you may have read on the internet, it is natural behavior for dogs.

Dogs instinctively do it when nursing puppies and cleaning their “den” and is not typically a sign of poor nutrition or a nutritional deficiency. It really needs to be addressed as a behavioral problem, just as jumping up or going to the bathroom in the house are often seen as undesirable behaviors that can be worked on through training.

Dietary modifications have only been shown to help in approximately 2% of cases. This includes changes in dog food as well as manipulations such as feeding pineapple, meat tenderizer, yucca as well as the products that are sold in stores for coprophagia.

Keep in mind that things like meat tenderizer and supplements are thought to work by making the stools taste bad. Really?! Shouldn’t it taste bad enough? Some dogs just like it!


The best way to handle this is to offer him no opportunity to eat his or anyone else’s bowel movement.

Take him out on a leash and keep him away from the bowel movement after he has gone. If he tries to go for it, say “leave it” and pull him away. Over time, you should teach him this command, to help you in other situations where he may pick up something he shouldn’t eat.

Next, remove your precious puppy from the area and clean up the feces as soon as possible.

Consider designating an area in the yard for bowel movements to make it easier for you to know where he defecated, making clean-up easier.

There unfortunately is no magic answer to this problem. It is a natural instinct and some dogs continue to eat their stools their whole lives. Please remember it isn’t typically related to the diet you are feeding or anything that you are doing wrong, it’s just a natural behavior that is more persistent in some dogs compared to others.

Work on these training ideas and if you continue to have trouble, consider an appointment with a veterinarian that is an animal behavior specialist. Kisses from your furry best friend are not as much fun when you know they’ve been eating poop.

Best Regards,
Christopher Smith VMD



  1. Howard

    Aug 24, 2014 at 2:22 am

    The question of why dogs eat feces (coprophagia) is pretty much irrelevant in today’s society. The question of more relevance is “why do humans eat feces (aka poop?)” Go to your local McDonalds or Burger King. Have you ever seen a listing of the ingredients? This listing is required by law on cereal boxes, and just about anything else that you can buy at the grocery store. There reason that McDonald’s and similar fast food joints don’t list their ingredients is due to a powerful, well-compensated Washington DC lobby that’s gotten around that requirement for these establishments. In fact, the typical fast-food burger contains anywhere from 40 – 60% animal feces (pre-cooked weight). They don’t want you to know that, of course. When it comes to adding human feces to fast-food restaurant items, in fact the FDA does have some fairly strict guidances, and fast food burgers are prohibited by law from containing more than 3% human feces. But they cram in all of the animal poop that they can. No one can tell the taste difference, anyway – the burgers are pretty disgusting – and it certainly cuts down on food costs. Just thought I’d let you know….

    • Whenward

      Sep 4, 2014 at 3:47 am

      This is a load of bollocks, don’t be such a smart-arse

  2. Big Joe

    May 17, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    Some human children also eat their own poop. I have personally watched two boys eating poop out of the toilet, smiling and laughing. How do you explain that?

    • Small Joe

      Sep 4, 2014 at 3:46 am

      You are a rubbish parent

  3. Trish

    May 16, 2014 at 1:29 am

    I find the assertion that it’s not related to diet suspicious … or at least the claim that it’s only inborn with no other known causes. My own pup never touched or expressed interest in his or any other animal’s feces for years … and then became interested in doing so after a move to a new region with a considerably different climate. By this time, he was already an older dog and well trained across the board. Yet, he began seeking other animals’ dropped feces out on our walks … and this occurred around age 10. I will say … once I began to modify his food supply, this activity ceased. Articles can only explore so much … and this topic deserves a more detailed discussion … incorporating multiple scenarios, etc.

  4. nancy

    May 14, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    I have basset hounds, and they love eating from the “kitty crunchy café” aka litter box… And I have tried everything to make them stop eating each others poop

  5. Debbie Magnin

    May 14, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    all of my chihuahuas do this it is excessively gross, i have to stay on top of them but we have an acre of land so it is impossible to stop them all but when i catch them trying to do it i firmly tell them leave it and chase them away they are slowly getting better.

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