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Wolves in the wild do it, and dogs in our home do it….I used to have a Chihuahua that would dig the dry stools of out the cat’s litter box, and bury them in our bed.

This was a question that came up from one of my customers this week, and unfortunately it is a pretty natural behavior of many animals, but not one that is appreciated by pet owners…..

The dog in question is a puppy, so more than likely he is just very curious about the world, and since they don’t have hands, dogs use their mouths to explore. Hopefully this is  just part of growing up. It has been speculated that dogs will eat feces to supplement their diet, but since many dog, including this one, are well nourished that it is more an exploration that a “self treatment modality”.

Natural or not, it is still disgusting to humans, so most of us will want to try to stop. Like most bad habits, it is easier to prevent than to break the habit.

Be sure to clean up immediately when your dog move his bowels, so you remove the opportunity. Regulate your dog’s diet so that he is eating once or twice a day (if you have a puppy you may need to do 3 small meals daily) so he get’s on a schedule. Also try changing to a higher quality food, unless you are already doing this. More expensive grades of food will have fewer fillers, which makes the bowel movement less frequent and smaller in size). And, believe it or not, more expensive foods will probably eat much less, so the cost is not necessarily significantly higher overall). Be sure to provde stimulation activities for your dog, and plenty of exercise…a tired dog is a good dog!

Another option is to try  a commercial product that can be added to the food. These products usually change the taste of the stool so it is less attractive.

If your dog is doing this when he  goes out, you can use a 20 to 30 foot check line, and jerk on the line when he starts to eat a stool, issing a a firm “no” at the same tme. Praise him when he stops.

Another option is to rediret him by saying his name and showing a favorite toy, as soon as he starts to bite at the stool (again, timing is everything). You can also run backwards while calling him (that is hard for a dog to resist), and again praise him when he follows.

Another option is the use of a remote controlled device (collar) that emits a scent when activated. The goal is to condition the dog to an aversion  with eating the stool. Timing is extremely critical to ensure that the aversion and the behavior are associated with each other

If all else is failing, a muzzle is a short term solution to “break the habit “, but again, this is a short term solution to break the cycle.

Hopefully your dog might try this delicacy once or twice and not do it again (our dogs do’t eat it, just roll in it)….but if this is not the case, there are some things you can do to hopefully eliminate the behavior. But remember, sometimes dog just do “gross things”!