Well, we all know it happens but we don’t like to talk about it. Some dogs eat poop. In scientific terms this is called coprophagia. Some dogs prefer to eat their own poop whereas other dogs prefer poop of other dogs or other species. It is unclear what the motivation is for this behavior. A pilot study was done to identify risk factors.
The study was done by van de Borg and looked at over 500 dogs who had coprophagia. The following risk factors were identified ( i.e. the following dogs were more likely to eat poop):
1. Spayed and neutered dogs
2. Greedy or fast eaters
3. Dogs that exhibited tail chasing or shadow chasing
4. Retriever breeds
Despite not knowing why all dogs eat poop, there are lots of products marketed to deter dogs from doing this. Sometimes these products work and sometimes they don’t. There has only been one study evaluating a method of deterring this behavior and that involved the use of a citronella spray collar. This method seemed to have efficacious results in the short term ( the study did not follow them for a long time). There are some humane training methods that have been useful but can be more time intensive.
For any dog who does this, no treatment should be tried until the dog has been examined by a veterinarian to make sure there is no medical cause for this behavior or serious behavioral cause for this such as compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder, etc…
So for those of you who like to kiss dogs on the mouth..think twice about this the next time you go to kiss a neutered retriever who is a greedy eater and likes to chase their tail 🙂