Wednesday, 18 June 2014

How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop - Stools, Coprophagia

First it is important to identify why your dog is eating poop - also called stool eating or coprophagia. Understanding why your puppy or dog is eating poop will help you identify the most appropriate strategy for correcting the situation. You can do a quick analysis by going here.

My approach is a holistic approach. By making sure you address all contributing factors to an issue you have the best opportunity to resolve the issue.

Don’t punish your dog as this will not resolve the issue and will create additional problems. Instead work to change your dog’s habits and perhaps some of your habits too.

I recommend that you go through the list below, decide which items apply to your situation and implement changes to help your dog leave the habit behind (pardon the pun).

 to stop your dog from eating poop

#1 Clean-up the Poop

Puppy and Dog Poop
Pick up your dog’s poop as soon as he/she eliminates. This is the #1 most effective method to curb the habit dog-poop eating - also known as coprophagia or stool eating. If you have a large property or your yard backs on to a forested make sure you clean the stools from the immediate surround of the house.

Remove Access to Cat Poop
Don’t set your puppy or dog up for failure, set him/her up for success by placing cat litter boxes where your puppy or dog cannot access them. My cat litter boxes are not accessible to my dogs - a simple and effective approach.

Wild Animal Poop - Rabbit, Deer...
This is one form of poop eating that you really must be present to stop. Even dogs on a truly biologically appropriate diet may still choose to indulge in this form of poop eating sometimes.

#2 Review Your Dog’s Diet

Processed Dry Dog Food
Processed dry dog food is a common trigger for poop eating as dogs are not evolved to exist on an exclusively dry processed food diet.  Making matters worse - the vast majority of processed pet food is poor quality - this is true for inexpensive products and many of the expensive  products.

Add Quality Digestive Enzymes
Your dog’s pancreas may not be able to make enough digestive enzymes to support his/her digestive requirements. In the absence of sufficient enzymes many dogs will naturally look to self medicate by seeking out alternate sources of digestive enzymes - hence ingestion of other dogs poop, rabbit poop, deer poop, cat poop etc.

If your dog is on a diet of processed dog food - the chance of enzyme deficiency is greater - in which case your dog will benefit from having good source digestive enzymes added to each of his/her meals. This will help with the absorption of nutrients.

Add Quality Probiotics
Viable (live) probiotics are another important element in the digestion of food. Don’t count on the probiotics included in processed dry dog food - the heating and processing kills the probiotics rendering them useless.

Vitamin B and Potassium
Add vitamin B rich foods to your dog’s daily diet - my dog’s get bee pollen, garlic, as well other B vitamin and potassium rich foods, herbs and nutraceuticals.

#3 Address Behavior Issues

Resolve Anxiety
As noted here, anxiety is another trigger for poop eating in dogs. If your dog is anxious it’s time to work on resolving his/her anxiety issues. This is something that should be done for your dog’s long-term health and happiness anyway.

Work On Recall and General Attentiveness
If you have not yet developed good recall and attentiveness between you and your dog it is time to work on doing so. Again, as with anxiety this is something that should be done for the over-all health of you and your dog’s relationship, your dog’s health, happiness and safety. If your dog is indulging in poop eating solely out of greediness improving recall and general attentiveness is essential.

#4 Offer a Healthy Alternative
This is last on my list as I am not big on ‘treat training’ and if used exclusively without consideration of the other interventions listed above you may make matters worse…

If you see your dog is about to partake of poop offer your dog a real whole food ‘treat’ rich in vitamins and nutrients. My dogs love fruits and veggies, cheese, yogurt, natural peanut butter, tahini, hummus. You can make your own chicken or meat jerky - go natural and forget about processed food and treats.

#5 If After Diligently Implementing All of the Above
Your dog still indulges in eating poop eating. Your dog may just be a greedy eater, or less likely but possible - there may be an underlying medical reason for his/her chronic coprophagia. You can get some blood work done by your veterinarian to see if a medical issue may be causing the poop eating.

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Why Dogs Eat Poop, Stool Eating - Coprophagia in Dogs

 If you have ever seen your dog eat poop you may have a) been disgusted and, b) wondered why your dog decided to consume such a seemingly unappealing substance.

There are many reasons why a dog may decide to eat his/her own poop, another dog’s poop or the poop of another animal species. The reasons way a dog consumes poop varies per individual canine - here are some typical factors to consider when looking to understand why your dog may eat poop…

Some Typical Root Causes of Coprophagia
  • Behaviour
    • A mother dog cleaning up after her very young pups’ stools - a behaviour evolved to protect the young from predators
    • Acquired habit
    • Anxiety and stress
    • Greedy eaters
    • Punishment for eliminating (pooping) in the ‘wrong’ place
    • Transferable behaviour - learning by example
  • Breed pre-disposition
    • Some breeds have a pre-disposition to poop eating - i.e. Border Collies , Shelties
  • Environmental Factors
    • Enzyme deficiency
    • Inappropriate
    • i.e. dry dog food
    • Insufficient diet - scarcity of food
    • i.e. dogs that have suffered deprivation - stray dog, puppy mill dog, neglected dog, etc.
  • Medical Issues
    • Gastrointestinal parasites
    • Mal-absorption of nutrients
    • Neutered males are more likely to ‘indulge’
    • Pancreatic Insufficiency
    • Pancreas is not producing enough digestive enzymes
 why do dogs eat poop
Some dogs enjoy eating the poop of herbivores such as cows, deer, horses and rabbits. Rabbit poop is particularly rich in nutrients - vitamin B and digestive enzymes.

Other dogs enjoy raiding the cat litter box.  Cats that are feed a processed food diet tend to pass stools that are full of undigested matter - this can make the stool appealing to some canines.

I have eleven dogs in my own dog pack. They are all fed a diet consisting of primarily raw fresh and whole food. Given the opportunity - three of my dogs will indulge in dog stool coprophagia - the other eight dogs never do so. The three that 'indulge' have no medical issues...

So why do these three dogs eat poop - here is a little analysis (please note the three have asked me not to mention their names):
  • Poop eater No. 1
    • Breed - Sheltie
    • Sex - male, neutered
    • Background - puppy mill dog
  • Poop eater  No. 2
    • Breed - German Shepherd x Malamute
    • Sex - male, neutered
    • Background - homeless rescue who had to compete for food
  • Poop eater No. 3
    • Breed - Australian Shepherd
    • Sex - female, a very maternal female
    • Background - rescue who had severe anxiety issues
I also have companion rabbits, and yes rabbit poop is popular with most of my dogs as are the wild rabbit and deer droppings found on my trails. On occasion some dogs will also eat the poop of related species such as coyote, fox and wolf.

A walk on the trails can be a source of  natural 'help-yourself' treats’ for the dogs.  The foraged treats range from healthy and self medicating items, to disgusting to me ‘uh uh, don’t touch’ items and ‘don’t roll in it either' items.

Examples of acceptable items that my dogs self-select are organic (non-pesticide or herbicide treated) grass, wild strawberries, juniper berries.

And, well - you have an idea of what the unacceptable items consist of :>)

My Australian Shepherd Tasha 

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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Dog Training Tip: Prevent Dog Fights and Anxiety - Just Breathe

Prevent dog fights and anxiety  - learn to use breathing  to effectively communicate and direct your dog...

Dogs in the same household that are getting in to fights are doing so for very specific reasons - this is true regardless of whether you can or cannot identify a reason for the fight. The same is true for other reactive behaviors such as separation anxiety and other out-of-balance behaviors. The triggers to behavior can be very obvious and very subtle, so to solutions. When it comes to dealing with behavior resolution learning to use good communication skills and psychological intervention supports the best of outcomes. 

Dogs use multiple methods to express how they are feeling, thinking, observing, reacting and communicating. Dogs are very intelligent, insightful observers and communicators - much more so than many people realize. That saying you 'can't fool a dog' is not just an old saying - it is a reflection of reality. So how do you make this truth work for you? Well, you learn to be a better communicator. Breathing is a form of communication on its own, one that dogs are acutely aware of. When used consciously and deliberately to express a state of being and to provide direction, breathing is an effective way to dispel tension, stop unwanted behavior before it occurs and calm your dog. In tense and/or otherwise excited situations, inattentiveness to how you are breathing can create heightened states of anxiety and reactivity in your dog and can trigger fights between more...Continue Reading Here >>

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Dog Obedience Training and Behavior Modification Services:
Diet, Nutrition Wellness Services:
  • Unbiased Diet, Nutrition, Product Advice is available via this service
  • Holistic Diet, Nutrition Wellness Plans are available via this service