coprophagia in dogs

Why Do Dogs Eat Other Dogs Poo?

While most adult dogs do not have an interest in eating other dogs, there is a behavior known as coprophagia, where dogs occasionally eat their own or other dogs’ stools.

This behavior is more common in puppies and nursing bitches.

Puppies have a natural instinct to keep their nest clean and prevent diseases, so they may engage in coprophagia to achieve this.

However, it is important to note that coprophagia can be a problem if it persists in older puppies or certain adult dogs.

Key Takeaways:

  • Dogs may occasionally engage in coprophagia, which is the behavior of eating their own or other dogs’ stools.
  • Coprophagia is more common in puppies and nursing bitches, who have a biological drive to keep the nest clean and prevent diseases.
  • Most adult dogs have no interest in eating feces.
  • Coprophagia can be a problem if it persists in older puppies or certain adult dogs and may be influenced by factors such as diet, irregular feeding schedule, and under-stimulating environment.
  • Treatment options for coprophagia include picking up stools, changing the dog’s diet, and providing ample exercise and mental stimulation.

Coprophagia: Why Do Dogs Eat Other Dogs Poo?

Why Do Dogs Eat Other Dogs Poo?
Why Do Dogs Eat Other Dogs Poo?

Coprophagia, or the act of dogs eating stool, is not abnormal behavior in certain situations for canines. It is important to understand the reasons behind this behavior, which include natural behaviors in canines, puppies’ oral exploration stage, and various contributing factors.

Reasons for Eating Stool

One reason for coprophagia is rooted in the natural behaviors of canines. Bitches may consume their own pup’s feces as a means to keep the nest clean and prevent disease. This behavior is essential for the well-being of the puppies and is usually temporary.

Another reason is the puppies’ oral exploration stage. Similar to human babies, puppies go through a phase where they explore their environment by putting various objects in their mouths, including feces. This behavior is a part of their natural curiosity and learning process and is typically outgrown as puppies learn that food tastes better than feces.

However, some dogs, known as “compulsive coprophagics,” persist in eating stool into adulthood. This behavior may be influenced by specific factors that contribute to its continuation.

Possible Contributing Factors

Several factors may contribute to dogs continuing the habit of eating stool. These factors include:

  • The opportunity to observe the dam, or mother, eating stool, and mimicry of this behavior;
  • Feeding high protein, low residue puppy food, which may leave the stool appealing to dogs;
  • An irregular feeding schedule that may lead to increased hunger or curiosity;
  • An under-stimulating environment may cause dogs to seek alternative sources of stimulation or taste.

Understanding these contributing factors can help dog owners and trainers address coprophagia and implement strategies to reduce or eliminate the behavior.

Coprophagia can be a concerning behavior for dog owners, but it is important to remember that it can be a natural behavior in certain situations and stages of a dog’s life. By understanding the reasons behind this behavior and addressing contributing factors, dog owners can effectively manage coprophagia and promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle for their furry friends.

When Coprophagia is a Problem

do dogs eat other dogs
Why Do Dogs Eat Other Dogs Poo?

Excessive coprophagia, or persistent and compulsive stool-eating, can be a problem for some dogs. This behavior is more common in dogs that are slow learners, oral retentive, or easily develop habits. It may be influenced by factors such as the opportunity to observe the dam-eating stool, high protein low residue puppy food, irregular feeding schedule, and under-stimulating environment.

Dogs that engage in compulsive coprophagia may require additional interventions and therapies to break the habit. Treatment options include:

  • Picking up stools to prevent access.
  • Changing the dog’s diet to discourage consumption.
  • Providing ample exercise and mental stimulation to redirect their attention.
  • In some cases, medication to address the underlying compulsive disorder.

It’s important to consult with a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer to determine the best course of action for addressing excessive coprophagia in dogs.

Compulsive Behavior in Dogs

Compulsive behavior in dogs can manifest in various ways, including excessive coprophagia. It is characterized by repetitive, purposeless actions that the dog feels compelled to perform. Dogs with compulsive tendencies often require behavioral therapy to break the cycle and prevent self-destructive behavior.

In some cases, dogs may develop coprophagia as a compulsive behavior. The act of consuming stool becomes ingrained in their routine and provides a sense of satisfaction or relief. Breaking this habit can be challenging, but with the right approach and professional guidance, it is possible to address and manage compulsive coprophagia effectively.

Medical Causes of Coprophagia

Medical Causes of Coprophagia
Why Do Dogs Eat Other Dogs Poo?

While coprophagia is often a behavioral issue, several medical causes can contribute to this behavior. Dogs that have a decrease in nutrient absorption, gastrointestinal upset, or an increase in stool appeal may be more likely to eat feces. Medical conditions such as digestive enzyme deficiencies, malnutrition, and certain diseases like diabetes or Cushing’s disease can lead to increased appetite and stool eating.

Dogs with these medical conditions should be treated to address the underlying cause, and dietary changes or supplements may be beneficial in some cases. Consultation with a veterinarian is essential for diagnosing and managing these medical causes of coprophagia, as they require specialized treatment approaches.

Here’s a look at some of the common medical causes of coprophagia in dogs:

  • Digestive enzyme deficiencies
  • Malnutrition
  • Diabetes
  • Cushing’s disease

Understanding and addressing these medical causes is important to effectively manage coprophagia and improve the overall health and well-being of the dog.

Behavior Reasons for Stool Eating

observational behavior in dogs
Why Do Dogs Eat Other Dogs Poo?

Dogs may engage in stool-eating behavior for behavioral reasons as well. Puppies may learn this behavior through observation, particularly if they see their mother or other playmates engage in it. Dogs have an innate behavior of cleaning newborn puppies and eating their excrement, which may contribute to coprophagia. Additionally, certain training techniques, such as “sticking the dog’s nose” in its stool, can reinforce and encourage this behavior. Early intervention and positive reinforcement training can help address this behavior and prevent it from becoming a long-term habit.

Observational Behavior in Dogs

Observational learning is a common behavior in dogs, especially during their early developmental stages. Puppies learn by observing the behaviors of their mother and other dogs in their environment. If a puppy observes their mother engaging in stool eating, they may imitate this behavior and continue it into adulthood. This observational behavior can influence their understanding of what is considered normal or acceptable.

Mimicry in Puppies

Puppies are highly impressionable and tend to mimic the behaviors they observe in their surroundings. When they see an adult dog eating stools, they may interpret it as a natural behavior and mimic it themselves. This mimicry can be influenced by the puppy’s innate curiosity and desire to explore and understand their environment. Owners need to be aware of their own behaviors and set a positive example for their puppies.

Environmental Influences on Behavior

The environment in which a dog lives can have a significant impact on their behavior, including stool eating. If a dog is exposed to an environment where stool eating is prevalent, such as a kennel or multi-dog household, they may be more likely to engage in this behavior. Similarly, if a dog has limited opportunities for mental and physical stimulation, they may resort to stool eating as a form of entertainment or self-soothing.

Dog Training Techniques

Training techniques play a crucial role in shaping a dog’s behavior. Certain training methods, such as “sticking the dog’s nose” in their stool as a form of punishment, can inadvertently reinforce and encourage stool eating. It is essential to use positive reinforcement training techniques that reward desired behaviors and redirect the dog’s attention away from stool eating. Consistency, patience, and using appropriate training commands like “leave it” can help modify the behavior and prevent it from becoming a long-term habit.

Factors Influencing Stool Eating BehaviorImpact
Observational learningLearning through observing other dogs, particularly the mother
Mimicry in puppiesImitating the behaviors observed in their surroundings
Environmental influencesExposure to an environment where stool eating is prevalent or limited opportunities for mental and physical stimulation
Dog training techniquesThe use of punitive methods or positive reinforcement training

Understanding the behavioral reasons behind stool eating in dogs is crucial for effective intervention and prevention. By addressing observational learning, mimicry in puppies, environmental influences, and using positive reinforcement training techniques, dog owners can help modify this behavior and promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle for their pets.

Dogs Eating Stools of Other Animals

Why Do Dogs Eat Other Dogs Poo?

Dogs are curious creatures that exhibit various instincts and behaviors. One such behavior is their scavenging behavior, which can include eating the stools of other animals. Dogs are attracted to the different smells and tastes of various stools, particularly those of herbivores. This attraction stems from their instinctual drive to explore their environment through their sense of smell.

This scavenging behavior is generally not harmful unless it becomes excessive or leads to the ingestion of harmful substances. However, dog owners need to discourage and redirect this behavior to ensure their pet’s safety and well-being.

Here’s a visually engaging table that highlights some key aspects of dogs’ scavenging behavior:

Aspect of Scavenging BehaviorDescription
Attraction to Different SmellsDogs are naturally drawn to the diverse scents emitted by various stools, especially those of herbivores.
Exploratory InstinctDogs use their sense of smell to investigate their surroundings, and this includes exploring stools as part of their scavenging behavior.
Potential RisksWhile eating the stools of other animals is generally harmless, it can lead to the ingestion of harmful substances or excessive consumption, which may have health consequences.

It’s important for dog owners to closely monitor their pets during outdoor activities and discourage them from consuming stools to ensure their safety and prevent potential health issues.

Redirecting and Preventing the Behavior

Redirecting dogs from eating the stools of other animals requires consistent training and management. Here are some strategies:

  • Observe your dog during outdoor activities and discourage them from approaching or consuming stools.
  • Use positive reinforcement techniques to reward desired behaviors and redirect their attention elsewhere.
  • Keep outdoor areas clean and promptly remove any stools to eliminate the temptation.
  • Provide ample mental and physical stimulation through interactive play and exercise to satisfy their instincts and reduce the likelihood of scavenging behavior.

By implementing these strategies and maintaining a watchful eye, dog owners can effectively prevent and manage their pet’s scavenging behavior.

Treatment for Coprophagia

When it comes to addressing coprophagia in dogs, there are various effective treatment options available. These strategies can help curb and discourage the behavior, promoting a healthier and more desirable habit for your furry companion. Depending on the severity and underlying causes of coprophagia, a combination of prevention techniques, behavioral therapy, and dietary changes may be necessary.

Home Remedies

While there are numerous home remedies suggested for coprophagia, their effectiveness varies. One popular approach is to add commercial preparations or breath mints to your dog’s food. However, it’s important to note that the results may be limited, and these remedies may not work for all dogs.

Prevention Techniques

Implementing preventive measures can go a long way in discouraging coprophagia. Picking up stools promptly and denying access to areas where dogs can find feces can greatly reduce the opportunity for the behavior to occur. By actively managing the environment and removing temptations, you can effectively break the habit.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy plays a vital role in addressing coprophagia. Redirecting your dog’s attention when they show interest in stools and implementing training commands like “leave it” can help deter the behavior. Consistency and positive reinforcement are key to ensuring behavioral changes are sustained over time.

Dietary Changes

Modifying your dog’s diet can be an effective way to deter coprophagia. Feeding high-fiber rations or special prescription diets designed to discourage stool eating can help address the underlying causes. It’s important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the most suitable dietary approach for your dog.

It’s crucial to note that the treatment outcome can vary depending on each dog’s individual characteristics and circumstances. It may take at least six months of consistent application of prevention strategies and therapies to witness significant improvements. Patience, persistence, and guidance from a veterinarian or professional dog behaviorist can help you navigate the journey to eliminating coprophagia in your furry friend.

Treatment OptionsDescription
Home RemediesAdding commercial preparations or breath mints to the dog’s food
Prevention TechniquesPicking up stools promptly and denying access to areas with feces
Behavioral TherapyRedirecting attention, implementing training commands like “leave it”
Dietary ChangesFeeding high-fiber rations or special prescription diets

Why Dogs Engage in Other Bizarre Behaviors

Dogs are fascinating creatures with a wide range of behaviors that may seem bizarre to us humans. Understanding these behaviors is key to building a strong bond with our canine companions and ensuring their well-being. Let’s explore some of the intriguing behaviors that dogs exhibit:

Head Tilting

One peculiar behavior that many dogs display is head tilting. When a dog tilts its head, it’s often a sign of curiosity or concentration. Dogs tilt their heads to get a better view or to hear sounds more clearly. This adorable behavior can melt our hearts and is frequently seen when we’re speaking to our furry friends or making intriguing noises.


Tail-chasing is a behavior that can be both playful and indicative of underlying health or behavioral issues. Some dogs chase their tails as a form of self-amusement and playfulness. However, excessive and obsessive tail-chasing may be a sign of anxiety, compulsive behavior, or even certain medical conditions. It’s important to monitor this behavior and consult with a veterinarian if it becomes concerning.


Barking is a primary means of communication for dogs. Dogs bark to express various emotions, including excitement, fear, and frustration, or to signal danger. Each bark can have a different tone and pitch, conveying distinct messages to other dogs and humans. Understanding the context and underlying reason behind a dog’s barking can help address any potential issues and strengthen the human-dog bond.


Scooting refers to the motion of dragging their bottoms along the ground. While it may seem odd, scooting can be a sign of discomfort, such as itching, anal gland issues, or even worms. If you notice your dog scooting frequently, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health conditions and provide appropriate treatment.


Licking is a common behavior among dogs and serves multiple purposes. Dogs may lick themselves as a way to groom and clean their fur. Licking can also be a way for dogs to show affection and seek attention from their human companions. However, excessive licking can be a sign of anxiety, boredom, or even skin problems. Keeping an eye on your dog’s licking behavior can help identify any potential issues.


Humping, although it may seem awkward to humans, is a natural behavior in dogs. Dogs may hump other dogs, objects, or even human legs as a means of expressing dominance, releasing excess energy, or in response to excitement or anxiety. While humping itself is not necessarily problematic, it’s important to monitor the behavior and address any underlying behavioral or structural issues if it becomes excessive or inappropriate.


Sniffing is an integral part of a dog’s communication and exploration. Dogs have an incredibly powerful sense of smell, and sniffing allows them to gather information about their environment, other animals, and even humans. From smelling new scents to marking territory, sniffing is a vital behavior for dogs to navigate and understand their surroundings.


Digging is a behavior deeply rooted in a dog’s instinct. Dogs may dig for various reasons, including boredom, anxiety, seeking a cool spot in hot weather, or as a way to bury treasured items. While digging can become a nuisance or cause damage to your yard, providing alternative outlets for digging, such as a designated digging area or engaging toys, can help redirect this natural behavior.


When a dog leans against you, it’s a sign of affection and a desire for closeness. Dogs lean to seek physical contact and feel secure in your presence. This behavior is especially common among breeds that are known for their loyalty and attachment to their human companions.


Panting is a normal behavior for dogs and serves as a way to regulate their body temperature. Dogs don’t have sweat glands like humans, so panting helps release heat and cool down. Panting can occur during exercise, hot weather, moments of excitement, or stress. However, excessive or persistent panting can be a sign of distress or underlying health issues, so it’s important to monitor your dog’s panting patterns.

Understanding these peculiar behaviors is crucial for dog owners to ensure the well-being and happiness of their furry companions. By observing, interpreting, and addressing these behaviors appropriately, we can cultivate stronger bonds and provide a nurturing environment for our beloved dogs.

Addressing Other Bizarre Behaviors in Dogs

When it comes to addressing bizarre behaviors in dogs, training and management techniques play a crucial role. By using positive reinforcement training methods, owners can effectively discourage unwanted behaviors and encourage positive ones. Redirection is another valuable technique that allows dogs to focus their energy on appropriate outlets, such as toys or interactive puzzles.

However, certain behaviors may require additional attention and interventions. Separation anxiety, for example, can cause dogs to exhibit distressing behaviors when left alone. To alleviate stress and promote emotional well-being, specific training methods tailored to separation anxiety should be implemented. Consulting with a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist is recommended in such cases.

In some instances, bizarre behaviors may be indicative of underlying health issues. Skin problems, such as itching and irritation, can lead to behaviors like scooting or excessive licking. These behaviors should be addressed by a veterinarian to identify and treat any underlying conditions that may be causing discomfort. Understanding the root causes of these behaviors is key to effectively addressing and managing them.

Furthermore, proper grooming habits are essential for maintaining a dog’s overall well-being. Regular brushing, bathing, and nail trimming not only contribute to a dog’s physical appearance but also help prevent certain behavioral issues. Neglected grooming can lead to discomfort and create opportunities for behaviors like scratching, biting, or excessive licking.

Training Techniques for Addressing Bizarre Behaviors

When addressing bizarre behaviors in dogs, training techniques focused on positive reinforcement are highly effective. By rewarding desired behaviors with treats, praise, or play, dogs learn to associate those behaviors with positive outcomes. Consistency and patience are key elements in training, and it is important to avoid using punishment or aversive methods, as they can cause fear and anxiety in dogs.

“Redirecting a dog’s attention to appropriate activities is a useful strategy for managing bizarre behaviors,” says Dr. Alexis Rodriguez, a canine behavior specialist.

It is essential to provide dogs with appropriate outlets for their energy and mental stimulation. Engaging in regular physical exercise, such as daily walks or interactive play sessions, can help channel their energy in a positive direction. Additionally, providing mental stimulation through puzzle toys or training exercises keeps their minds active and prevents boredom-driven behaviors.

Maintaining Emotional Well-being

Addressing bizarre behaviors also involves taking care of the emotional well-being of dogs. Separation anxiety, for example, can lead to destructive behaviors when dogs are left alone. To alleviate anxiety and stress, gradual desensitization and counterconditioning techniques can be used to help dogs feel more comfortable being alone.

“Creating a safe and comforting environment for dogs is crucial in managing separation anxiety,” advises Dr. Rodriguez.

It is important to gradually introduce periods of alone time and make departures low-key and calm. Creating a positive association with being alone through the use of special toys or treats can also help dogs feel more relaxed during these times.

Grooming Habits and Behavioral Health

Incorporating proper grooming habits into a dog’s routine is essential for both their physical and behavioral health. Regular brushing and bathing help maintain healthy skin and coat, reducing the risk of skin problems that may lead to bizarre behaviors like excessive itching. Nail trimming is also crucial as overgrown nails can cause discomfort, affecting a dog’s posture and gait.

“Establishing a regular grooming routine is vital for preventing behavioral issues associated with discomfort or pain,” emphasizes Dr. Rodriguez.

If a dog shows resistance or fear towards grooming activities, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a professional groomer or trainer who can provide guidance and help dogs overcome any negative associations they may have.

In conclusion, addressing bizarre behaviors in dogs requires a multi-faceted approach. By utilizing positive reinforcement training techniques, managing separation anxiety, and maintaining proper grooming habits, owners can effectively manage these behaviors and improve their dog’s overall well-being.

The Importance of Veterinary Care

Consulting with a veterinarian is crucial for addressing both behavioral and medical issues in dogs. Many bizarre behaviors can have underlying medical causes that require diagnosis and treatment. Skin problems, anal gland issues, and other health conditions can contribute to certain behaviors.

A thorough examination, including stool testing for parasites, can help rule out medical causes for coprophagia and other behavioral issues. Veterinarians can provide guidance on implementing appropriate treatments, dietary changes, and behavior modification techniques to address both the physical and behavioral well-being of the dog.

Behavioral HealthMedical Health
  • Addressing bizarre behaviors
  • Training techniques
  • Separation anxiety
  • Skin problems
  • Grooming habits
  • Medical causes of behavioral issues
  • Underlying health conditions
  • Coprophagia and other behavioral problems
  • Digestive enzyme deficiencies
  • Malnutrition in dogs
  • Diabetes and Cushing’s disease
  • Stool testing for parasites

Prevention and Management of Bizarre Behaviors

Preventing and managing bizarre behaviors in dogs requires a multifaceted approach. One of the key aspects is providing ample exercise and mental stimulation. Regular physical activity not only helps to keep dogs physically fit but also reduces boredom and anxiety-driven behaviors. Mental stimulation through interactive games, puzzles, and training exercises can engage their minds and prevent them from resorting to destructive behaviors.

Positive reinforcement training techniques play a crucial role in redirecting and shaping desired behaviors. Rewarding good behavior with treats, praise, and affection encourages dogs to repeat those behaviors, gradually replacing unwanted behaviors. Consistency and patience are essential in training, as it may take time for dogs to understand and adapt to new behaviors and commands.

Another important aspect of preventing bizarre behaviors is providing environmental enrichment. Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and rotating toys can engage dogs’ instincts and keep them mentally stimulated. This not only prevents boredom but also helps to alleviate anxiety and destructive behaviors that may arise from it.

To effectively prevent and manage bizarre behaviors, it is crucial to have a deep understanding of a dog’s individual needs. Every dog is unique, and their behavior may be influenced by various factors such as breed, age, and past experiences. By considering these factors and tailoring the prevention and management strategies accordingly, owners can ensure the well-being and behavioral balance of their furry companions.

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