What’s the key to stopping my dog from eating feces (coprophagia)?


If you own a dog, you may have experienced the unpleasant sight of them indulging in their own or other animals’ feces. This behavior, known as coprophagia, can be quite alarming and disgusting. However, there are reasons behind this behavior, and understanding the key to stopping it can help improve the overall health and well-being of your furry friend. In this article, we will explore the possible causes of coprophagia and provide you with effective strategies to tackle this issue. So, if you’re tired of witnessing your dog engaging in this unappetizing habit, read on to discover the steps you can take to address and prevent coprophagia.

Lead to the rest of the article sections:

Firstly, we will delve into the reasons why dogs engage in coprophagia, as knowing the underlying causes is crucial for devising an appropriate solution. From there, we will explore various strategies to discourage this behavior, including dietary adjustments, training techniques, and addressing underlying medical conditions. Additionally, we will provide tips on how to manage the environment to prevent access to feces. By implementing these methods consistently, you can successfully break the cycle of coprophagia and redirect your dog’s focus toward healthier habits. So, let’s explore the key to putting an end to this unpleasant behavior and ensuring a happier, healthier life for your canine companion.


What’s the Secret to Preventing Dog Coprophagia?

The act of a dog consuming feces, known as coprophagia, can be a distressing and perplexing behavior for many pet owners. Coprophagia is not only unhygienic but can also indicate underlying health issues or behavioral problems in dogs. In order to address this concern effectively, understanding the key reasons behind this behavior and implementing proper training techniques is essential.

To delve deeper into the subject of stopping coprophagia in dogs, it is important to explore various factors, such as nutritional deficiencies, instinctual behavior, attention-seeking, or anxiety. By identifying and addressing the root cause, pet owners can help deter their dogs from engaging in this unsavory habit. This article will provide an in-depth analysis of these factors and offer valuable tips and strategies to prevent coprophagia in dogs, ensuring a healthier and happier relationship between owners and their furry friends.

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Understanding Coprophagia

Understanding coprophagia, the behavior of dogs eating feces, is important in order to tackle this issue effectively. Coprophagia can be caused by various factors, including nutritional deficiencies, medical conditions, behavioral issues, or instinctual behavior.

Identifying Potential Causes

Before addressing coprophagia, it is crucial to identify any underlying causes. In some cases, dogs may engage in this behavior due to a lack of key nutrients in their diet. Malnutrition or nutrient deficiencies may lead dogs to search for alternative food sources, including feces.

Medical conditions such as malabsorption disorders or pancreatic insufficiency can also cause coprophagia. If your dog suddenly develops a feces-eating habit, it is important to consult a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

Moreover, behavioral factors such as boredom, anxiety, or attention-seeking behavior can contribute to coprophagia. Dogs that are left alone for long periods of time without mental or physical stimulation may resort to eating feces as a way to alleviate their boredom.

Preventing Coprophagia

Stopping a dog from eating feces requires a multi-faceted approach. By addressing the underlying causes and implementing preventative measures, you can effectively discourage this behavior:

  1. Ensure a Balanced Diet: Feed your dog a nutritionally balanced diet rich in essential nutrients. Consult with a veterinarian to ensure your dog’s diet meets their specific needs. Additionally, consider adding supplements or probiotics to enhance digestion and nutrient absorption.
  2. Keep the Environment Clean: Remove feces from your dog’s living area promptly to prevent access. Regularly clean your yard or any places where your dog has access to feces. Cleaning up immediately reduces the opportunity for your dog to engage in coprophagia.
  3. Supervise and Redirect: Keep a close eye on your dog while outside and redirect their attention if they show interest in feces. Using positive reinforcement techniques, distract them with toys or engage them in activities to divert their focus away from the behavior.
  4. Train the “Leave It” Command: Teach your dog the “leave it” command and reinforce it consistently. With proper training, your dog will learn to leave feces alone when commanded, providing you with better control over their behavior.
  5. Provide Mental and Physical Stimulation: Dogs that are mentally and physically stimulated are less likely to exhibit destructive or compulsive behaviors such as coprophagia. Engage your dog in regular exercise, playtime, and provide puzzle toys or interactive games to keep them mentally stimulated.
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Seeking Professional Help

If your dog’s coprophagia persists despite your efforts, it may be beneficial to consult with a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist. They can assess your dog’s specific situation and provide tailored guidance to address the behavior effectively. Remember that professional help can greatly assist in resolving complex cases of coprophagia.


Coprophagia can be a distressing behavior for dog owners to witness, but with the right techniques and strategies, it can be managed and discouraged. By understanding the potential causes, implementing preventative measures, and seeking professional help if necessary, you can effectively stop your dog from eating feces. Remember, consistency and patience are key when addressing any behavioral problem in dogs.

According to a survey conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association, approximately 16% of dogs exhibit coprophagia behavior at some point in their lives.


1. Why does my dog eat feces?

There are several possible reasons why dogs engage in coprophagia, including nutritional deficiencies, boredom, anxiety, instinctual behavior, or a learned habit.

2. Is coprophagia harmful to my dog’s health?

In most cases, coprophagia is not harmful to dogs. However, it can pose certain health risks, such as the transmission of parasites or infectious diseases. It is important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

3. How can I prevent my dog from eating feces?

To prevent coprophagia, you can try the following methods:

  • Keep your dog’s living area clean and free of feces.
  • Teach your dog the “leave it” or “drop it” command to discourage them from approaching feces.
  • Ensure your dog receives a balanced and nutritious diet to reduce the likelihood of nutritional deficiencies.
  • Provide ample physical exercise and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and anxiety.
  • Consider using products that make feces taste unpleasant to dogs.

4. Should I punish my dog for eating feces?

No, punishing your dog for eating feces is not recommended. It is more effective to focus on positive reinforcement and redirection techniques when training your dog. Punishment may cause fear or anxiety, worsening the problem or damaging your bond with your pet.

5. Are there any medical treatments for coprophagia?

If your dog’s coprophagia is caused by an underlying medical condition, your veterinarian may recommend specific treatments. However, most cases can be managed through behavioral training and environmental changes.

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6. Is coprophagia more common in certain breeds?

While coprophagia can occur in any breed, some studies suggest a higher prevalence in certain breeds such as Labradors, Beagles, and Terriers. However, it is not limited to these breeds, and any dog can develop this behavior.

7. Can coprophagia be a sign of a medical problem?

Yes, coprophagia can sometimes indicate an underlying medical issue, such as enzyme deficiencies, malabsorption syndromes, or thyroid disorders. It is important to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any potential medical causes.

8. Is coprophagia more common in puppies?

Coprophagia can be more common in puppies due to their exploration of the world around them. They may try to eat feces out of curiosity, but with proper training and guidance, most puppies outgrow this behavior as they mature.

9. Can coprophagia be a sign of a behavioral problem?

Coprophagia can be a sign of behavioral problems, such as boredom, anxiety, or compulsive disorders. It is important to address these underlying issues through proper training, mental stimulation, and providing a stimulating environment.

10. When should I seek professional help for coprophagia?

If your dog’s coprophagia persists despite your efforts to address it, or if it is accompanied by other concerning behaviors, it is recommended to seek professional help from a veterinarian or a certified dog trainer who specializes in behavioral issues.


The key to stopping your dog from eating feces (coprophagia) lies in a combination of preventive measures, training techniques, and addressing potential underlying causes. Firstly, it is important to physically remove feces from your dog’s environment to limit their access to it. This can be achieved through regular poop scooping and ensuring other animals’ waste is also cleaned up. Secondly, providing your dog with a balanced and nutritious diet can reduce the appeal of feces as their nutritional needs will be adequately met. Adding digestive enzymes or probiotics to their diet may also help deter coprophagia.

Training plays a crucial role in modifying your dog’s behavior. Redirecting their attention with a toy or treat when they show interest in feces can help break the habit. Consistent positive reinforcement training, rewarding good behavior and redirecting them when they exhibit coprophagia, can be effective in retraining their behavior. Additionally, addressing any underlying medical or behavioral issues, such as anxiety or malnourishment, with the guidance of a veterinarian or professional dog behaviorist is essential.

In conclusion, stopping a dog from eating feces requires a multi-faceted approach that includes preventive measures, dietary adjustments, training techniques, and addressing underlying causes. By implementing these strategies consistently, you can help your dog overcome coprophagia and create a healthier and more hygienic living environment for both you and your furry friend.