How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Poop

Why do dogs eat poop?

Dogs eat poop for a variety of reasons including –

  • Nutritional imbalance – When a dog eats his own poop, it may be because the stool still has undigested minerals and nutrients.
  • Stress – A dog may poop because of extreme anxiety (e.g. when left alone), and then eat up his own feces as a displacement behavior.
  • Boredom – Lack of activity and interaction may cause a dog to start playing with his stool and sometimes eat it.
  • Enjoyment – Many dogs like the taste of leavings from cats or other animals. My dogs also like smelling the stuff and scenting it with their tongue.
  • Clean-up – Some dogs may eat poop inside the house to keep their living space clean. Dogs that are physically punished for potty training mistakes, may learn to eat their own poop to avoid our anger or strong discipline.
  • Any combination of the above.

Whether eating feces is harmful to our dog will depend on whether it is contaminated with worms, fleas, or other parasites that may carry bacteria and viruses. The consequences of eating contaminated feces will also depend on the immune system and general health of our dog. Young puppies, for example, have developing immune systems, and may be more susceptible to bad stool; especially if they have not been fully vaccinated. To be safe, I only take my puppy out on hikes and neighborhood walks, after he has received all of his vaccination shots.

The most effective method to stop our dog from eating poop, will depend on the reason for his behavior, his temperament, as well as our own preferences.

1. Feed our dog a healthy and balanced diet.

The easiest balanced food to give our dog is dry kibble. Dry kibble is nutritionally balanced and results in less teeth tartar.

Make sure to get a high quality kibble, with good protein sources, and no unhealthy fillers.

Some well reviewed kibble brands include Wellness CORE, Blue Wilderness, Nature’s Variety Instinct, and Orijen.

2. Fixed feeding schedule and on-leash supervision.

If we keep our dog on a fixed eating schedule, it will help keep his poop schedule regular and predictable as well.

A fixed schedule makes it easier for us to supervise our dog, and prevent him from eating his own feces or those from our other dogs.

During poop time

  • I put the problem dog on a leash, and walk him out on-leash to do his business first.
  • If he tries to eat his own feces, I no-mark him (Ack-ack) and lead him away from it. I get him to do some obedience commands, and then try again. If he does not try to pull towards the bad stuff, I praise him and reward him well.
  • I keep sessions short, and end on a positive note.
  • I make sure to clean up after him.
  • If we have other dogs, only let them out after cleaning up.
  • Make sure to keep the problem dog on-leash, so that we may supervise and prevent poop eating when our other dogs are out.

3. Keep our dogs busy and well-exercised.

Bored dogs will frequently develop behavioral issues and cause property damage.

It is important to walk our dog regularly (preferably every day), and to provide structured, interesting activities, to keep his mind sharp and engaged.

My dogs work for all of their food, either by performing dog obedience commands, or through interactive food toys. If we provide a lot of alternative activities for our dog, he will be less likely to find unacceptable entertainment on his own, including eating his own feces.

If we are busy in the short-term, and do not have the time to give our dog the attention that he needs, consider sending him to dog daycare or hiring a pet sitter.

4. Keep our dog’s environment clean.

Scoop up after our dog, as soon as he is done with his business. If we keep things clean, there will be less chance for him to engage in opportunistic poop eating.

During retraining, it is also important to supervise our dog closely, so that he does not practice any bad behavior on his own. We may have to go back to dog potty training basics, to fully stop him from eating his own poop.

5. Help our dog reduce stress.

Identify situations that cause extreme stress in our dog, and try to reduce the number of stressful encounters. In the meantime, practice managed desensitization exercises, to help reduce his stress response.

To desensitize my dog-

  • I make sure that I am in control of the training environment. Then, I start by exposing him to very low levels of the stressful stimulus. Low enough that he is able to stay calm and learn.
  • I treat and praise him for staying calm.
  • I do some simple obedience commands (e.g. Sit), so that he is focused on me, and looks to me for direction while under stress.
  • When my dog is comfortable with the low-level stimulus, I very slowly increase its intensity, and repeat the focus and training exercises.

If our dog starts to react badly, then we have moved forward too quickly. I move a few steps back, help my dog to calm down, and then do some simple focus exercises so that I can end on a positive note.

While conducting desensitization exercises, it is important to keep sessions short, fun, and rewarding for our dog. In this way, he will begin to re-associate the bad stimulus with positive experiences.

6. Teach our dog the ‘Leave-it’ command.

  • First, I get some yummy treats that my dog likes.
  • I put one treat in my hand, and make sure my dog knows it is there.
  • I close my hand into a fist, and hold it still.
  • My dog will naturally nose all over my hand, while trying to get to the treat. I say Leave-it, and wait for him to briefly stop nosing my hand.
  • As soon as he stops, I mark the behavior (Yes), and treat him from my other hand.

As our dog learns the command, we can slowly lengthen the time he has to leave our hand alone, before we mark and treat him.

Once we are comfortable with this exercise, we can practice the Leave-it command with a treat on the floor. Make sure that we are fast, or have our dog on a lead. In this way, we may stop him if he decides to lunge for the treat. If necessary, we can also cover the treat with our hand.

As soon as our dog leaves the treat alone, mark and treat him from our other hand. It is important NOT to give him the treat that is on the floor. This may inadvertently teach him that he gets rewarded with whatever is on the ground, which is often not the case in real-world situations.

Keep practicing this until we have a really solid Leave-it command. Now, we can use it when our dog gets tempted by animal leavings during walks.

Note that independent minded dogs may choose to eat the feces anyway, if they decide that our reward is of lesser value. If this happens, I try upgrading my rewards, and make sure that my dog does not get within striking distance of the bad stuff. In addition, I quickly march my dog home and end the walk, if he manages to sneak in some poop eating. This teaches him that if he eats the stuff, the nice and interesting walk ends. That is usually enough of a deterrent to stop any roadside temptations.

7. Make the dog poop taste bad.

Adding meat tenderizer containing papain, in small quantities to our dog’s food, will sometimes prevent poop eating. Some people also suggest adding pumpkin, pineapple, or stool deterrent supplements as alternatives. Our vet can also give our dog medicine, that will make his stool taste extremely bitter.

Only use one additive at a time, so that our dog’s digestive system does not become overly unbalanced.

Remember to consult with our vet, before using any of these additives. Adding too much, may give our dog digestive issues. Some dogs may also be allergic to the added ingredients.

Instead of adding to our dog’s food, we may also coat our dog’s poop with taste deterrents such as Bitter Apple.

Note that taste deterrents are added to the feces, and *not* to the food.

However, stool deterrents only work when our dog is eating his own feces, or those from other dogs in the house. Results are usually much better and longer lasting, when we correct the source of the poop eating behavior, through the other methods listed above.

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  1. Mrs Jill Calladine says

    Hi, I’ve got a 15wk old puppy he’s on a really good food, the problem I’ve got is that I’ve 4 more dogs, the puppy doesn’t eat his own poop but he will eat the other fours, any advice as to what I can do? I’m pretty good as to clean up straight away when I see them poop in the garden, but with four I can’t always get to the poop before the puppy does. I can’t let him off his lead in the park as he will eat other dog poop.

  2. Allison King says

    I have my 5 month old maltese shih tzu puppy on a good dry food, but she eats her poop!. Since I live in a condo I have trained her to potty in the bathroom, on puppy pads. If I take her into the bathroom to poop I praise her with a treat and say Leave it, she leaves it alone. But if I’m in the other room and she poops she eats it every time!!
    I’ve tried something the Vet gave me to sprinkle on. Meat tenderisor, fresh pineapple mixed in her food and nothing works! I watch her poop and put chili powder on it, leave it. She won’t touch it. I don’t know what to do! Please help me if you have any suggestions! ! Thank you for any help!

  3. Pia Hartman says

    AHHHH, I have two pekingese. They are boys and twins. They aren’t eating their food very much. They always eat their poop, and hide it from my mom or me. Is there any suggestions, how I can solve this problem?

    PLEASE, thank you very much… 🙂

  4. Nancy says

    I have an 11 year old cocker spaniel who likes to eat her poop. I have tried several different things to stop this habit but nothing has worked. So, I just tried the meat tenderizer. After one week her breath smells horrible. This has never happened with anything else. Did the tenderizer hurt her digestive system? It smells like urine. She just had a check up at the vets and is healthy. What do you think is causing this? She is on GD Science Diet mixed with Metabolic Science Diet. I am very concerned about her breath situation more than the poop issue at this point. Any advice would be helpful and appreciated.

    • Kathy says

      Nancy, meat tenderizer contains MSG (monosodium glutamate) which has been known for years to be not so good for both humans and animals, so that’s the likely culprit. I’d stop it immediately and perhaps try giving her some dog digestive enzymes and probiotics to get her system back in order as soon as possible and thus hopefully to stop the poop eating.

  5. Rod says

    My dog is extremely healthy and has a high quality diet. He does not ever eat his own poop. He only eats poop from other dogs. He doesn’t do it on walks. He only does it at dog parks, which are the only place he’s allowed off leash in town. He is also well exercised, confident, and not stressed in any way. He knows the ‘leave it’ command and responds to ‘NO’ in most situations. He also knows he’s not supposed to eat it and I’ll be upset with him. But he’ll eat it until I get close enough to stop him. Nothing in your article would cover this, but it’s pretty typical.. He likes eating other dogs poop. He’s healthy. he knows it’s ‘Bad,’ and he still does it. Everyone else at the dog parks correct him as well. Thanks in advance.

  6. vikki apfelroth says

    My 8mo old male peke tried to eat poop once when he was 5mo old and never aha in till today I cough him with something in his mouth it turned out to be fresh poop I immediately took it out and scolded him I don’t consider him a poop eater never ate his own should I be concerned?

  7. lalit says

    I have 3 months old german puppy he eats potty .i m very tensed pls hlp me.though i feed him pedigree. pls help me.

    • Anonymous says

      First of all, I would not feed him pedigree. has ratings of many brands to help find a good one. The best way to prevent poop eating is to pick it up as soon as it drops. Walk him to potty on leash and as soon as he goes bag it and throw it away. Teaching a leave-it command is helpful as well.

  8. Sophie says

    Our 8 month old german shepherd cross will eat other animals poop (never her own or another dog’s) when we walk her through the fields around our house. She knows the ‘leave it’ command well and will often drop the poop when asked to be rewarded with a treat and praise. But occasionally she will choose to continue eating it while staring at us blankly from a distance and will run away if we try to stop her.

    The biggest problem comes with trying to catch her and punish her/put her back on the leash to go home. We don’t want to call her back to us as she might associate being called back with being punished and we don’t want to stop letting her go free as she is usually well behaved and gets a good run/needs the exercise. Is it best to just walk away and wait for her to get close enough before grabbing her, telling her off and putting the leash back on?

  9. coll says

    our 3 year old italian greyhound-rat terrier mix is very fast after nosing around in the leafs. not letting a dog snifff around is “mean” but she is so fast and grabs a turd and gobbles it so fast, and i don’t carry rubber gloves to take it out. this is so hard to train a dog not to eat poop. or do I tell my stepdad to not feed her Purenia 1 anymore?

  10. Dorothy Atchison says

    I have a 3.5 yr. old Lab and I have used every method, every food, every additive available to me to prevent him from eating his and every other dog’s poop … I worry about his health and even my vet has not provided me with any successful treatment … left to my own devices I have decided that whenever he is off-leash with me, he is wearing a muzzle, it is the only method of preventing a poop-eater from eating everything available …

  11. Erin-kumabear says

    Hi guys!
    My husband n i had bought our second shibainu from a breeder this time, and he has been eatting his poop… We had him in a playpen to begin with and he would chomp down his food and immediately poop and then eat it. Then i had wait til he finished eatting and quickly hold him, run outside and he will poop outside but when we come back in, he will poop again and eat it. He is on wellness core and has plenty of excercise with our other shiba. He has plenty of toys and treats. He is now 4 months. We had tried the poop pills and that did not work. What else can we do?

    • Ruth says

      Have you had any improvement? I’m going through the same thing. My puppy is now 5 months and I’ve tried everything and he still eats his poop, everyday.

  12. Brittany says

    My dog has always ate her poop if we do the leave it she’s so stubborn she goes back in a few seconds not her food we’ve been on 2 different ones ones royal k9 most expensive and best for digestion and we are now on moist and meaty only thing she likes and don’t make her sick most makes her sick or she won’t eat. Tenderizer on food doesn’t do anything or putting it on the poop. Please help I’m desperate at this point I’ve been tying for almost 2yrs now I’m out of ideas time out isn’t even doing it.

    • Anonymous says

      Please don’t take this the wrong way only trying to help you. Both of those dog foods contain meat by-product meal which is slaughterhouse waste (ex. Chicken by-product meal: the left over parts of the chicken after the prime choice cuts have been used including feet, beaks, necks etc) they also have other ingredients like high fructose corn syrup that are not good for your dog. I would recommend going to a locally owned pet store and asking for a high protein food with natural ingredients and starting with that. You will be surprised how you can pay they same as you do now for a good quality food and how much less your dog will eat and poop! And hopefully stop eating poo! Hope this helps!

  13. Venice says

    What can I do if my 1 yr old pup poops in the house and eats while I’m not home. She poops in the house once in a while even when we are home(not that often) and when it’s just her and my 7 yr old dog and she poops, she’ll eat it and sometimes carry it to my bed and eat it there. How do I stop it if I’m not there to see it?
    I can have her outside for an extra amount of time but there are some days if something has changed in the environment she won’t do anything outside.

    • Mark says

      My wife and I started mixing some boiled cabbage and cooked pumpkin into our dogs meal at every meal. So far he has stopped eating his poop completely, but its only been about 4 days. The informstion on this, is that the smell after digestion is so twrrible to the dog, they wont eat their poop, bu this may not work with all dogs…. Important point is to cook the cabbage and pumpkin so they are not raw, and then add to their food, perhaps one 4th mixture of total amount of food. This might work for you, and its harmless to the dog.

  14. kathy p. says

    My 12 wk old shi tsu is eating her poop.. I work from 7 to 330.. I dont know how i can stop her.. Im desperate. I have a yr d pit who i have had since 6wks n he never did that. Help.

    • shibashake says

      What food is she eating? How long have you had her? Is she stressed when left alone in the house? Dogs may sometimes eat poop when they are anxious. Did she eat poop right from the start? Does she eat poop when you are around?

  15. jesse says

    I heard of people using pinnacle or meat tenderizer to a dog’s diet and asked my vet. Both products work the same; they alter the taste of poop because they contain bromelain. Instead, you can just buy bromelain pills (our dog likes them, so that’s easy). We give 80mg (1 pill) a day. It works and the bromelain has the added benefit of decreasing arthritis (see webmd). Ask your vet about adding bromelain.

  16. Zach says

    Hi I have a 7 months chocolate lab and he has been eating his poop very recently. I don’t know why he does that, but I picked it up right after he goes and even walk him. He gets a lot if exercise and play time but he stills eats his poop. I tried putting the hot sauce but he stills eats it. He is usually in his kennel only for about 5 hours a day. Any suggestions?

    • jesse says

      We added bromelain to his diet (amazon, whole foods, gnc…). We didn’t like me at tenderizer because of all the sodium and we do’t eat enough pimmaple to regularly feed cores (pinnacle meat doesn’t work, only the core). So I mentioned it to my vet and he looked it up. Both tenderizer and cores contain bromelain, which is what makes poop taste bad (I mean I assume all poop is gross, but I digress). Check out bromelain on webmd and ask your vet. We give 1 pill 80mg Daily (he just eats it, we don’t have to pill him- I assume it tastes good)

  17. Belinda says


    So glad I found this article. I have three dogs – a German Shepherd, a Belgian Malinois, & a lab/shepherd mix puppy….2 outta the 3 dogs eat poop. My Malinois LOVES his own poop – preferably fresh & warm, while my Lab/Shep X prefers to eat others’ poop (really any nasty degree of freshness or frozen-ness)…she especially loves to eat my German Shepherd’s. My German Shepherd thankfully doesn’t eat any poop.

    I have tried (gradually changing) different dog foods of high quality & feed the dogs nutritional treats & very little human food. I have mixed in (w/their food) Forbid, Distaste, pineapple, & now we are working on banana. I change these up gradually as well. I even went out & tried sprinkling Tabasco on their poop & that completely backfired…even my German Shepherd was rushing over to see what the celebration was all about!

    I make sure they get exercise, mental stimulation (especially Nosework for my Malinois) & they all are generally healthy, well-balanced dogs…but this habit is so disgusting. I usually can get out in the yard & pick up turds, but it is inevitable that some will get missed (especially w/leaves & yard debris.)

    Any suggestions would be helpful….I just saw my lab/shep puppy eating poop directly out my German Shepherd’s butt & while I was securing my poop-eating-puppy, my Mal takes a dump & spins around & chomps that up…ugh!!! I am thinking I’m probably gonna have to be taking them out to poop on leashes like….forever!!!

    Thanks so much,

    P.S. – your husky & shiba are gorgeous 🙂

    • shibashake says

      Do they all get the same food? What is their feeding schedule? What is their daily routine? What food are you currently using?

      The thing is, poop eating can be a self-reinforcing behavior. The more successes a dog has, the more likely he will repeat that behavior. A puppy can also learn behaviors from the adult dogs around him. With my dogs, management and supervision are key. I need to make sure they never get “rewarded” for trying to eat poop.

    • Anonymous says

      I have just solved the problem where one dog was eating the other dogs poop sometimes while she was popping. I feed the dog pineapple that the poop eater doesn’t like. Three days and no poop eating. Now I have to clean the pooo.

  18. Apple says

    Hi there. I have read your article and enjoyed it- very informative! We have a 2 year old German Shepherd Dog that eats our 6 year old Pekingese’s poop (as he is going). She does not eat the other dog’s (a boston terrier mix) or her own. They eat the same exact food. We have tried the pills, powders and pastes in the Pekingese’s food to no avail. I have tried the deterrents on the poop after it happens which will work if I catch it in time. I pick up the yard once daily. Am I correct in interpreting that you suggest that I leash her and “leave it” and pick up the poop then unleash her? What if I am not home in time? Will she ever stop eating the Pekingese’s poop? Thanks.

    • shibashake says

      Poop eating can be a self reinforcing behavior. For some dogs, eating poop is like a reward, so the more they get to eat the stuff, the more the behavior gets reinforced, and the more they will repeat it in the future.

      To stop my dog from eating poop, I need to make sure that he *never* gets rewarded for it or gets something of even greater value taken away. For example, if my dog eats poop during a walk, I no mark and I end that walk right away by marching him home. In this way, he learns that-
      Eat poop = Fun walk ends.

      Since he loves his walks, he stopped trying to eat poop.

      For at home, I need to catch my dog and redirect him before he gets to the poop. I use a collar and leash if necessary, as described in the article above. I also set up a fixed schedule and supervise him well. In this way, he never gets rewarded for the behavior, and eventually he will stop because he gets nothing for it. If he keeps trying, he loses outside privileges.

      When I am not home, I need to manage things so that my dog does not get a chance to eat poop. I either separate him from my other dogs or keep them inside the house.

  19. FirstShiba says

    Hi, I have a 17 week female Shiba Inu. She has started to eat my West Highland Terriers feces as she is defecating. The shiba is on Arden Grange food which is a good kibble. The westie is on a different diet as its older and is not technically our dog so we don’t pay for its food (the westies diet it ok but does have some additives in it) All your help would be appreciated/

    • shibashake says

      I set up a fixed schedule for my dogs, and I do on-leash supervision as needed. The more a dog practices poop eating behavior, the more he is likely to repeat it. Therefore, I need to manage and supervise my dog carefully and stop him from eating the stuff.

      If we are on-walks, eating poop is an “end of walk” offense. In this way, my dog learns that if he eats poop, we walk home right away and his fun walk ends.

      I talk more about this in the article above.

  20. Mimi says

    HI ! I just got 2 little Yorkie puppies ( 4 months ) a week ago , but i just found out the little girl ate her own poops . So can you help me what the best solution and what kind of other food can help her to stop that habbite . Please .
    Thank you !

    • shibashake says

      What I do with my dog depends a lot on why he is eating poop. For example, if it is a result of his food, then I change his food. If it is a result of anxiety, then I need to address the anxiety.

      For opportunistic poop eating, I do management, supervision, and training. I talk more about management and supervision in sections 2,3,4 of the article above. I talk more about training in section 6.

      More on how I pick my dog’s food.

      Dog behavior is very context dependent, so each dog and situation are different. When I am trying to change my dog’s behavior, I observe him closely so that I can identify the most likely causes for the behavior. Once I do that, I can come up with a good plan that addresses the source of the behavior, whether it be anxiety, nutritional imbalance, or something else.

  21. Tony says

    Hi! I have just obtain a new 3 month old puppy. He is fairly quiet and his energy isn’t as high as every other husky but that’s probably for right now. However, I recently switched his food to fast and he has diearrha issues. I will so he giving him rice and boil chicken to help with that but when I leave fore work and put him in his play pen area and when I come back he Poo everywhere, plays and eat his poo! How can I start this process of stopping it. Am I giving him too much room in the play pen. Should I crate him until I get back. Please help.

  22. says

    Regarding dogs eating excrement: My dogs seem to love eating rabbit poop.
    Two different vets have said different things: One said there is no concern with parasites from rabbits in our area; the other said this could be a problem – so I don’t really have an answer…
    Do rabbits usually carry parasites that could harm dogs?
    How to stop the dogs – several times a day they go outside in our own fenced backyard to do their business. Unfortunately the rabbits sometimes ‘go’ there as well…

  23. TxMomof2 says

    I have sm. Boston Terrier pup. She is 11 months and weighs 8 lbs. I was potty training her to go on potty pads since she is so small. I know she wouldn’t go outside when the weather is – raining or freezing cold. She does her business outside when she’s on a walk and doesn’t eat her own poop. She only does it inside. I can be standing right there as she finishes and she will start eating it before I can bend over and pick it up. I tried the pills, pumpkin, and pineapple. They didn’t work. Any suggestions? Thanks!

    • shibashake says

      I find that having a leash on a my dog helps a lot in terms of being able to quickly control him. During the puppy training period, I usually have a lead on my dog so that I can quickly prevent undesirable behaviors. I only do this when I am doing full-time supervision and only with a flat collar or harness (*not* an aversive training collar).

      More on what I do.

      I also talk more about on-leash supervision in section 2 of the article above.

    • HIHI says

      Your dog is probably eating her poop because she, like all dogs, does not want to soil her living area. Try taking her away before cleaning up the poop, take her outside to go potty was much as possible, and also try the ‘leave-it’ command described in this article.

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