Your puppy is a beloved family member; you adore everything about him -- except for his unspeakable habit. You can do a few things to get him to stop eating his own excrement or the droppings from other animals. It’ll take some trial and error to change the behavior, but you can cure your puppy of eating poop with training and the help of your vet.
Clean It Up
Sounds simple enough, but the first step to stopping the problem is cleaning up the mess from the get-go. Some dogs eat feces as a way to spruce up their area. This behavior that is somewhat common if you rescued your pooch from a pet store, since eating the droppings was the only way to keep his house clean when humans weren’t around. So now that you’re there to take care of him, pick up his business as soon as he leaves it and clean up after any other canines -- or felines -- who may also leave their mark in your yard.
Change His Diet
In some cases, pups eat waste as a way to get something their body is craving. Maybe his bargain brand kibble is lacking in a certain nutrient, so instincts kick in and tell him to “sniff out” what he needs -- such as a platter of poop. Talk with your veterinarian about Bubba’s disturbing behavior and make sure you tell him what you feed your puppy. Your veterinarian may suggest making a change in Bubba’s diet.
Alter the Flavor
Believe it or not, those droppings might actually taste good to Bubba. Change the flavor to make it taste less desirable. You can purchase over-the-counter supplements from the pet store that you feed your puppy. These pills give his droppings a foul taste, making him less likely to indulge in yesterday’s business. You’ll need clearance from your vet before giving your pooch any supplements, though. In the meantime, keep a bottle of hot sauce on hand. When you see Bubba racing over to dine, sprinkle on a couple dashes of the hot sauce. He’ll get a mouthful of something unpleasant and probably won’t ever want to eat poop again.
Your puppy needs attention from you -- he doesn’t care if it’s positive or negative attention; he just wants you to focus on him when he’s bored. You may have unintentionally encouraged his feces-eating behavior. Think about it: Every time he prances over to the pile of waste, you come running over and pull him away. He just got you to drop what you were doing to come see him. Now anytime he thinks you’re ignoring, he believes all he has to do is go find some poop and stick his nose in it. Stop that. Rather than make a big deal out of his annoying habit, walk over without saying a word, clean up the mess and leave him be. He needs to learn that this behavior won't get your approval.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.