If you watch a dog eat their own poop, you may ask yourself, “Why do dogs eat their own poop?”. It’s not a pretty sight to watch, and it certainly can’t taste good, so why do dogs do it?
Reasons for Dogs to Eat Their Own Poop
Dogs will eat their own poop for a variety of reasons that can start when they’re puppies or adults. Your dog may be having a bit of fun, or your dog may be very afraid. Normally, dogs won’t eat their own poop, and they don’t need to, so if you find your dog eating poop, do your best to discourage the habit and find the source.
They’re a Puppy or Mother
The mother of a litter of puppies will regularly eat her puppies poop as a way to keep the puppies and their area clean.
A puppy with their mother will imitate her while exploring the world with their nose and mouth. This means they’re going to eat a bit of poop as they figure out what it is and they will usually stop fairly quickly.
They Want Your Attention
Your dog may have discovered eating their own poop, or simply picking it up and carrying it around, is a great way to get your attention. Naturally, you’re going to pay attention to your dog if you notice them with poop in their mouth and will go to engage with them, and they know this.
Some dogs may eat their own poop when they’re anxious. This could be anxiety from being in a kennel, where they will poop out of stress and eat it, or they may have separation anxiety.
They Want to Avoid Punishment
If a dog or puppy was taught not to poop in the house or other areas using negative reinforcement and punishments, they may eat their own poop because they’re scared of being caught and punished if they had an accident somewhere.
They May be Sick
If your dog has never been a habitual poop-eater and starts doing so seemingly out of nowhere, this may be a sign they’re sick or having issues in their intestinal tract. If you notice this behavior start, you should take a visit to your vet to determine if your dog is as healthy as they can be or if there is a treatment you can do to make your dog feel better.
Dogs who don’t have enough activities to do will often eat their own poop just because they are so bored and it’s something to do. If your dog is leashed in their backyard for a stretch of time with nothing available to play with, this may occur. This behavior is not limited to the outside, because if your dog is too bored while inside or while in their kennel, they may still engage in this behavior as something to pass the time. Make sure to provide your dog with adequate enrichment and toys so they don’t get bored without you.
They’re Not Getting the Nutrients They Need
As dogs are scavengers by nature. If they aren’t getting the proper nutrition they need, they may turn to eating their own poop as a way to try and make up for the nutrition and get extra. If you notice this, make sure your dog is getting enough food, or switch to a higher quality food with more nutrients and fewer filler ingredients like grains.
A Learned Behavior
Some dogs learn to eat their own poop from a young age by watching their mother or other dogs do so. Usually, they will stop this behavior as a puppy, but some do not and continue to eat their poop as an adult.
They Think it’s a Game
Your dog may eat their own poop because they think it’s a game they have with you. If you run to get your dog to stop eating their poop, they may see this as the start of a game with you and continue doing it because they enjoy playing keep-away with you.
Why do dogs eat their own poop can best be answered by how they were raised and any environmental factors happening around them that may influence them.