Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?

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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

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  1. 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….

  2. 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?

  3. 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. 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. 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.

  6. I have a schnauzer Yorkie mix. She only does it when she has pooped in the house. She tries to get rid of the evidence. I scold her for pooping in the house, so she gets rid of the evidence. It almost always makes her sick.and she pukes it up, which is very hard to clean up. She ven does it with my other dog’s poop if he has an accident. If I stop scolding her for pooping in the house, she stops eating it! What can I do? It’s a catch 22.

    • I believe you have answered your own question. Obviously Stop scolding her!
      Dosen’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out! The feces is much easier to clean up too. Pretty much a no brainer. Maybe taking them on scheduled walks would help as well.

  7. Some think that the purpose of the human appendix is to store bennificial bacteria. Dogs don’t have an appendix. Maybe they eat poop in order to replenish their own intestinal bacteria.

  8. My male Sibe won’t touch any poop. Will even leap over the top of it to ensure he doesn’t touch it! The Chug puppy, however, loves cat poop but not dog!

  9. My dog will be 8 years old in June, she is half German Sheppard and half Siberian Husky. My son rescues cats, well mainly a moma and her babies. So your looking at 4 to 5 litter boxes being used any given time. Now my dog, Jasmine, mainly in the last few years has started sneaking in the litter boxes at night and munching on some kitty poo. She doesn’t always do this and I’ve tried to see if there is a pattern. I have punished her for doing it and gave her treats when she hasn’t with no luck. Only thing I have come up with is jealousy. Please help me.

    • It is extremely difficult to get a dog to give up an instinctive behavior…kitty roca is very dangerous if you use clay litter as it can cause a bowel obstruction…I started using the “world’s best kitty litter” as it is 100% corn and will not cause problems when eaten.

  10. Our issue is with one of our dags raiding the letter box. Despite our vigilant efforts, he gets in there before us occasionally. I have a covered nox placed in the corner giving the cat barely enough room to get in it himself. I have been told cats don’t completely digest food so I’m the dogs mind it’s like being cooked. Training isn’t the issue. It’s a behavior that has to have a way to stop it. He knows he gets scolded when he does it. But he’s a sneak. We feed the cat and if we stand over the cat while he eats, the dog will sneak a bite and run. We’re right there but if we happen to look away for one second, he’s there and chops til he knows we could smack his butt. He has this daring side and pushes the limits to the max. I wonder if this behavior comes from possibly coming from a puppy mill-something I can’t prove but he acts like he has to fight for each meal. They’re on a top quality freeze dried food and get carrots or lettuce for treats. All healthy diet. But it’s like he has it in his head he has to eat while it’s there, and he eats fast. He’s so stubborn and extremely smart.

  11. I have a doggy nursing home in my home. Four of the elderly dogs eat poop. I wonder if this behavior gets worse with age.

    • My oldest dog did not start doing this till he hit the age of 12. He never did it before so it can not be behavioral. He has always been a dog that goes out and does his business and comes right back in and now he goes out there like its a scavenger hunt for tasty treats. I have to stay out there with him while he is on a lead and pull the lead so he gets away from the poop.

      • Mine eats it too. 12 yr old German shepherd. Her mother did it also ..what a gross habit and I try to scoop it as she is going and I put it in a pail and dump in the fields. Where she doesn’t go. She still will eat any poop via rabbit dog etc. I can’t let her near the ferrets cage or she will like thier pan. Ahahaha she is a smart girl because when outside I say drop it and she either will or run ….smh good luck I just pick up from her immediately but she sometimes stashes poop I tell ya I try and with four acres of farmland it isn’t easy.

  12. My dogs love litter box crunchies, the fresher the better. My oldest dog loves it so much that he is eating while the cat is still pooping. We have tried covered litter boxes. (Despite getting his head stuck numerous times), putting a gate around the boxes etc but nothing works.

  13. Lol, These Responses Are Hilarious.I Agree, The Only Thing You Can Do IS Immediate Clean Up. UnfortunitLy We Have A Lot Of Rabbits Using Our Yard As A Potty.So I Clean Up Theirs But They Still Gobble The Rabbit Turds.