Poop in the beard is not a good look....
January 12, 2011 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have a reliable method to stop a dog from eating poop?

I have this wonderful little fellow Nick, who is a ~14 month old schnauzer mix of some sort. We had a brief issue with re-housetraining (details here) after I was away for a few months, but that has been resolved. Now I'm ready to tackle an issue he's had since I got him - poop-eating.

Ever since he was a puppy, Nick has eaten poop. I find he prefers the poop of my other dogs to his own poop, if that matters any. I have 2 other dogs - a female doberman and a male foster doberman, so we are talking LARGE piles of turds that he's munching on. And let me tell you, nothing is more disgusting than having your dog come back in from outside with shit smeared all throughout his beard. The poop-breath and the occasional turd between the teeth are bad enough, but when it gets stuck in that cute facial hair of his, it makes a giant mess. It also makes me pretty resistant to cuddling him or letting him give/receive the doggy kisses that he so enjoys.

I try to keep up on scooping the yard, but with 3 dogs and a very large yard, I just don't get out there daily. And even when I do, I always seem to miss a pile or two, which he has no problem finding. I have tried watching him every single time he goes outside to scold him for chowing on the poop, but he usually responds by bringing me the turd like some bizarre fetch game.

Other relevant facts: I adopted Nick at 14 weeks old from the local SPCA - he had apparently been living in a car with a homeless woman. He had been in foster care for a few weeks when I adopted him, and was basically house trained and crate trained when I got him. He lives inside and gets lots of exercise/play time, both with me and the other dogs. He is neutered and has a clean bill of health. I have tried 2 different foods since switching him to adult food with no effect. His weight is normal, and miraculously, his fecals have always come up negative. He has traditionally been the "omega" dog in my pack; my "alpha" dog, an 11-year old doberman who was Nick's BFF, passed away last month unexpectedly (I doubt this has much to do with it, since he has been eating poop since 14 weeks old). We have 2 indoor cats, and amazingly, he seems uninterested in raiding the kitty box for those nuggets of goodness.

So, is there some reason he loves eating poop? Is there anything I can do to curb this behavior?
posted by tryniti to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Victoria Stillwell on poop-eating.
posted by muddgirl at 3:31 PM on January 12, 2011

So many dogs like eating poop! (and other vile things, but let's not get into that...I have some stories).

I'm working on the assumption that poop tastes ok to a dog. Let's go from that standpoint. Have you tried spraying all the poop in your yard with bitter apple or one of the other disgusting-taste products designed to keep dogs from chewing on other things?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:32 PM on January 12, 2011

Forgot to add that two other of Victoria's suggestions are:

(1) Add pineapple to you dogs' diet (in your case, all your dogs)
(2) Ensure that your dogs eat much slower so that they have time to fully digest their food. Sometimes this means feeding them by hand.
posted by muddgirl at 3:34 PM on January 12, 2011

Not from over the counter products as far as I know. And I sold pet products for five years. Two of the more well known offerings are Solid Gold's "S.E.P." (Stop Eating Poop!) and the Ark Natural's product. I finally quit carrying commercial remedies cause they had money back guarantees and I ended up refunding way too many customers' funds. So try those with a jaundiced eye.
posted by vito90 at 3:41 PM on January 12, 2011

There are anti-coprophagia (anti-poop-eating) pills you can buy. You're supposed to give them to the dogs whose poop is being eaten (not to the poop-eater himself unless he's also eating his own poop). The ingredients in the pill are supposed to make the poop smell and/or taste offensive to the poop-eater.

We tried it with one of our dogs and it didn't work, but I've known other people for whom it did work. The pills aren't very expensive, so it's worth a try.
posted by amyms at 3:45 PM on January 12, 2011

I had a dog with a similar appetite years ago.
I first walked him out in the yard instead of free roam so I could discourage him verbally for 1 week.
I than got a spray bottle and put a bit of cayanne pepper and water in it. I sprayed the piles in the yard with it, left them than gave him free run again. After about 1 week he avoided poop like crazy.
Check with a vet to see if cayanne is harmfull first as I did not at the time.
posted by Studiogeek at 3:50 PM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

but with 3 dogs and a very large yard, I just don't get out there daily

I think you need to change this. Or you can let your other two dogs have free reign of the yard as usual, but walk Nick on a leash (so you can prevent him from eating poop). Either way I think the onus is on you. I mean, you want Nick to stop eating poop, right? So you have to put in the effort. Nick would happily eat poop every day, from the sounds of it.
posted by kate blank at 4:10 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

My trainer said that I should clean the yard but not let the dog see me picking up the poop. I’ve read that suggestion in other places and I’ve had moderate success. I've also read there are a number of reasons why dogs eat poop, i.e., diet, boredom, etc. I think my dog may do it more for attention. A lot of times she just runs around carrying it like a cigar while I yell at her to leave it.
posted by iscavenger at 4:25 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Picking up the poop everyday is the best place to start, but sometimes the weather precludes that. One of my dogs only eats poop when it is frozen, so that makes poop eating a 5 month activity here, or as long as there is a snowbank to mine for treasure.

My vet recommended powdered meat tenderizer, in which the active ingredient is papain, which helps to break down proteins in the doggy stomach. This works well, as does raw papaya and pineapple. Pineapple contains bromelain which breaks down proteins in manner similar to papain.

The drawback to using store bought powdered meat tenderizers is that they are wicked high in sodium. Unfortunately, raw pineapple or papaya isn't easily digestible for my frozen poop loving dog, so a small shake of meat tenderizer powder works most of the time here.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:34 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can try using meat tenderizer, it does make the poo taste bad but this isn't going to the root of your problem: your dog is bored and your yard is full of poo. I understand that it's time consuming but you chose to have so many dogs and picking up the poo is part of that. I would also try taking more walks if your dogs are walk pooers, get it before it even gets in your yard. Also those anti-poo eating products are only meant to be used for one to two weeks maximum, it is to break the dogs habit, not a permanent solution. Think of it in the same way that you put bad tasting nail polish on a kids fingernails to stop sucking. It's not long term.
posted by boobjob at 4:54 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

StUdIoGeEk already said exactly what I came to, Capsaicin is very convincing to most dogs. The less you dog is able to smell it the better.
posted by Blasdelb at 4:59 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's a sad and surprising fact of life that about 1 in 5 dogs will eat another dog's poop if they have the chance. Some dogs are more avid poop-eaters than others. Dogs simply have no sense of disgust.

In addition to all the other very fine suggestions, you could teach him to never eat anything unless it's either in his bowl, or you tell him it's okay. This may not only curb the poop-eating, but also will keep him from eating other undesirable (and potentially dangerous) things when you're out on walks.
posted by ErikaB at 5:00 PM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Use a muzzle with a stool guard for Nick, if you can't keep the yard clean.
posted by vers at 5:26 PM on January 12, 2011

My dogs had a few instances of that around that age - mine grew out of it - YMMV.

I really just came into suggest cutting his beard (even though it is sooo cute) until you get the poo eating under control. One less thing to worry about sounds like it would be nice right now.
posted by cestmoi15 at 5:46 PM on January 12, 2011

StUdIoGeEk has it. I asked a vet I used to work for this same question since my black lab, Bear, LOVES to eat other dogs and cats' poo. Cayene is not going to hurt him.
posted by zombiehoohaa at 11:25 PM on January 12, 2011

I have to second the meat tenderizer - just sprinkle a little bit of the unflavored stuff on the food of all of the dogs who live in your house. This really works: The story is way too gross to tell, so suffice it to say that I had a dog who ate poop, and then, a short time later, I had the same dog who didn't. The meat tenderizer wasn't a long term thing - he grew out of the whole poop-eating thing and we gradually forgot to put the tenderizer on his food more and more often. Eventually, we just didn't do it anymore, and he never went back to eating poo.
posted by LyndsayMW at 8:13 AM on January 13, 2011

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