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How to get dogs to stop eating poop

How to get dogs to stop eating poop

We all get the munchies but sometimes our dogs may choose to snack on some pretty disgusting things. One of those things may even be poop. Whether it’s their own or another dog’s, eating feces is not only bad manners but it is also an extremely unhygienic habit that can have potential health risks for yourself and your dog. If you’re unsure of where to start on keeping your dog away from the poop, you’re not alone. Keep reading for a few suggestions from pet experts on how to stop your dog from eating poop.

Why do dogs eat poop?

Is your dog eating poop? The bad news is that it can be gross and unsightly but the good news is that they are not the only ones. The findings of a 2018 study actually found that approximately 16% of dogs are coprophagia. Coprophagia is the behavior of consuming feces and there are a number of different reasons why your dog may want to eat poop.

Natural instinct

Dogs instinctively try to keep their homes clean. This behaviour comes from mother dogs keeping her den clean from debris. To remove her puppy’s feces, a mother dog will consume it in order to keep the den hygienic and ensure that the smell will not attract predators. Eventually, puppies pick up on this behavour and follow their mother’s lead in coprophagia. Most puppies will grow out of this behaviour but for some, it follows them into adulthood.

Food obsession 

Certain dogs are more “snacky” than others. Unfortunately for some dogs this means that they may also snack on poop. In the 2018 study by Hart et al, they found that coprophagic dogs were much more likely to be reported as greedy eaters than non-coprophagic dogs. This means that if you have a pooch who likes to steal food off the table or rummage through the garbage bin, you may also have a dog that is more likely to eat poop.

Holding the biscuit A Golden Retriever dog holding her doggy biscuit in her mouth, on dark background. dog treat stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Poor diet

Imagine living on junk food and processed snacks everyday. You would start to feel tired, and all around icky. This is how your dog feels on a diet that is over processed and lacking in nutrients. If your dog is on a poor quality diet, they may begin to seek out nutrients in a different way and this could be through eating feces. 


Dogs can also eat poop due to being stressed or anxious. This usually arises when harsh or negative training tactics are used for potty training. If a dog experiences a negative reaction like yelling or physical pain when they potty in the house, they may learn to eat feces as a way to cope. Out of anxiety they will try to remove the “evidence” to appease their owners.


Unfortunately, coprophagic behaviours can also be triggered if your pup isn’t feeling too well. Eating poop can be a symptom of a number of illnesses such as:

  • Thyroid disease
  • Parasites
  • Diabetes
  • Digestive/absorption issues
  • Cushings
Cute German Shepherd in a blanket on bed. Lovely dog  in home. dog sad stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Consult your veterinarian if you think your dog may be struggling with an illness that is causing them to consume feces.

Why you should stop your dog from eating poop

Aside from a bad habit, poop eating also poses some health risks for both your dog as well as anyone they interact with. It is best to nip this bad habit in the bud earlier rather than later.

Bacteria and parasites

Fecal matter is crawling with nasty bugs like bacteria and parasites. These infectious microbes can be transferred to your dog from eating another dog’s or another animal’s excrement. This can be anything from salmonella, to E. coli or worse, all of which can make your pup very sick. It is not only just your pup that is at risk either. After consuming feces, these microbes and parasite larvae can survive in your dog’s saliva and be transferred to the people and other dogs they interact with. As a result, yourself as well as your family, friends and strangers that pet or play with your dog may be at risk.

How to stop your dog from eating poop

It’s safe to say that most of us would rather our dogs not eat poop. However, there is a proportion of the dog population who enjoy snacking on such things. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to keep the poop out of your dog’s mouth.


Did you know that 92% of poop eaters are more likely to eat fresh poop that is less than 1 or 2 days old? The best way to stop your dog from eating poop is by eliminating their access to it all together. If your dog is prone to eating their own poop, ensure that you follow them out to the yard when they do their business. Always clean up after them and make sure there are no little nuggets for them to find later. Conversely, if you have a dog that likes to search out other dog’s poop, make sure to keep them on leash when on walks. This will prevent them from sniffing out hidden turds around the neighborhood.


Dogs respond well to structure. A good way to eliminate poop eating is by training the “leave it'' command. Chances are your dog will find treats much more desirable than old poop on the ground. Use this to your advantage. 

First find a tasty treat that you pup absolutely goes bananas for. When your dog goes out to do their business or goes for a walk, follow them out with the treats. When you see your dog eying up the poop, distract them with the treats and praise. Repeat this several times and start to work in the “leave it” command. Eventually your dog will learn to connect the command “leave it” with a treat. You can then use this to stop them from going for poop when they are not within your immediate control.

Adoring white Labrador puppy looking upon its owner Little labrador puppy pay attention to his owner at dogschool. dog train stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images


If your dog has a taste for their own poop, pineapple might just be your new best friend. Not only is pineapple safe for your dog to eat but it is also packed with nutrients. It is also a great deterrent for dogs who eat their own poop. Pineapple has a chemical compound in it that creates an unappealing taste and smell to your dog’s poop. Add a few cubes of pineapple to your dog’s meal and they will likely turn their nose up at their own poop. Unfortunately this trick only works on dogs who eat their own poop and not dogs who go for others.

Change in diet

As mentioned above, your pup may be eating stool because they are not getting enough nutrients from their food. This could be the result of eating a poor diet that is over processed and full of filler and artificial ingredients. Consider switching your dog’s food over to something that is much more digestible and natural. Fresh cooked food is a great option since it’s made with whole ingredients and gently cooked the same way you would make it for yourself at home.This ensures that your dog is getting all the nutrition they need and don’t go eating poop to compensate.

Australian shepherd looking into the camera
Australian shepherd looking into the camera

View Sources

Hart BL, Hart LA, Thigpen AP, Tran A, Bain MJ. The paradox of canine conspecific coprophagy. Vet Med Sci. 2018 May;4(2):106-114. doi: 10.1002/vms3.92. Epub 2018 Jan 12. PMID: 29851313; PMCID: PMC5980124.

The Spruce Pets. (2022). “Why Dogs Eat Poop and How to Stop Them”.,Instinct,feces%20at%20a%20young%20age.

AKC. (2022). ​​”Why Dogs Eat Poop and How to Stop It”. 

Hutchins, Rae G., Kristen M. Messenger, and Shelly L. Vaden. "Suspected carprofen toxicosis caused by coprophagia in a dog." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 243, no. 5 (2013): 709-711.

van der Borg, Joanne AM, and E. A. M. Graat. "Pilot study to identify risk factors for coprophagic behaviour in dogs." (2006).

Dinwoodie, Ian R., Barbara Dwyer, Vivian Zottola, Donna Gleason, and Nicholas H. Dodman. "Demographics and comorbidity of behavior problems in dogs." Journal of Veterinary Behavior 32 (2019): 62-71.

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February 20, 2024
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