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Old 11-29-2012, 07:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Another "dog eating poo" thread

Hi guys, I have a six month old German Shepherd, and he loves eating his own poo...

We've always had this problem with him. It's mainly his own that he's interested in, but will occasionally pick one up on a walk. It's very rare that he does that though - maybe once per month. If he investigates one on a walk, telling him "leave it" will usually work.

I've put this down as something that he would grow out of, but he hasn't yet. I've tried a few things so far.

Our main method for managing the habit has just been picking it up as soon as he does it. When we do this, he will always return to the area that he did his business and eats the grass that still has a few "leftovers" in. When we're out on a walk, we generally do a circular route, and on the way back he will return to where he laid a cable on the way out and give the ground a good licking. This was particularly embarrassing this morning, when he greeted another dog walker with what I can only describe as a "****ty brown nose". Also, occasionally, he will manage to sneak one out in the garden when we have our back turned or we're not paying attention. This is very rare though.
Recently, we have been using some tablets from the pet shop. I can't remember the brand, but they are basically tablets that are meant to make the mess "unpalatable". We tried those for around a month, but they don't appear to do anything and are quite expensive.

We use positive dog training with our boy, and have always used a clicker with him. Is there maybe a way we can integrate that into stopping this habit?

Another things I was wondering about - could it be diet related? We feed him Pets at Home's "premium" dog brand "Wainwrights". His weight is fine, and we generally use bits of kibble for training, or small pieces of chicken or cheese if we want to motivate him. He loves food...

It's frustrating. I know that eating his own mess isn't likely to hurt him, but we want to break the habit. The main downside of his little appetite is that I'm not happy to leave him in the garden unattended, which cuts his outside romp time down significantly. Especially at the moment when it's cold and pouring with rain in the UK.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
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My 3 year old just starting eating his own mess in additional to everyone elses including goose poop. No advice but I just wanted to say I feel your pain.
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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OH lord, isn't that just the grossest thing ever LOL

I've never had the problem, but have heard of a few suggestions:

1 - diet can be a factor, sometimes the dog is lacking something in it's diet and is looking elsewhere

2 - it definitely becomes a habit, and after a couple of successful "meals" will be much harder to break

3 - the pills that your vet said will make it less "tasty"? Really, like poop isn't gross enough? LMAO ... sorry, can't resist that one - there really isn't much that's absolutely disgusting to a dog ... seriously ... they'll eat any type of poop they see - deer, rabbit, goose, duck ... you name it, they'll eat it if given a chance! Ask the farmers on here ... cow poop seems to be a favourite, and they love to roll in it too!

4 - what are your feelings / actions about it around your dog. I watched a woman at an off leash park freak and run at her dog as he was trying to gobble some down and he thought it was a game ... almost like the poop was a toy, and he had to grab it before she got there ... are you calm about it? are you freaking out? (I get it, it's gross) but if you're providing drama / excitement the dog's get hyper too!

You need a SOLID leave it, and I mean SOLID ... so that the second the dog is done his business and turns around to investigate you say LEAVE IT ... and mean it ... not a pretty little "leave it" but a STERN leave it (you're not yelling, but you're using "that" voice.)

If you have to have a leash on the dog and be ready to tug away so that he's not rewarded for getting to it.

I'm sure others will have some ideas for you as well! Good luck!
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:43 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I think over time, I have definitely moved towards a "freaking out" reaction. It has definitely reached the stage where the race is on as soon as he squats. Maybe that's part of the issue.

I'm going to try coaxing him away with treats and calmy picking it up afterwards I think.

It happened last night - he went out and squatted right at the end of the garden. By the time I ran down the garden, he had picked it up and ran right past me. Obviously, I can't actually catch him once he's in flight. He likes to stand just out of reach and make me watch him eat it, the sadistic little git!
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I would put him on leash to do his business. As soon as he's done walk away, leash in hand. Go about 4-5 feet away and have him sit, praise him / reward.

Walk around the yard a bit with him on leash and edge towards it, if he lunges towards it, a quick "correction" on the leash or a verbal LEAVE IT and have him sit again, praise / reward. By correction, I mean a quick tug or something AWAY from the poop.

The key for this tho is the solid leave it command.

And yup, you're amping him up with your level of frustration LOL ... he's like OMG I have to eat this FASTER before they come and get me ... it's become a race for him ... and he's winning LOL (what a race to win ha ha ha!) And yes, that's a HUGE part of the issue - he's young, it's a game and it's one he wins! At 6 months EVERYTHING is a freaking game!!!

Seriously, I wouldn't let him in the back yard by himself off leash until you've got this licked (pun intended!)
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Old 11-29-2012, 09:54 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Halo is 4 years old and she'll still eat poop if she get the chance - either hers or Keefer's. I don't think it's diet related, I think she's just got ridiculous food drive! The ONLY way to get her not to do it is to go outside with them and beat her to the punch and pick it up right away.

That's a PITA in the morning before work because it's early and I have very little extra time to stand around and wait for them to poop, but if I just let them out to do their business while I stay in the house and do something else, she WILL eat it.

Last weekend I had early flyball practice, and I actually got dressed outside in the dog run while I waited for them to poop because I wanted to make sure that she didn't get the opportunity to eat it since we were going to be playing tug, and I would have my hands in her mouth delivering treats.
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Old 11-30-2012, 07:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I had this issue with Tess when I first brought her home at 7 weeks and it continued for a couple of weeks until a friend of mine recommended a product called Potty Mouth. They are pills and you give the dog one for every 10lbs of body weight, for around 2 weeks and it is supposed to make the poo foul tasting to the dog, as you described below. This particular product worked for me and Tess has not eaten her own poo since she started taking these pills. The friend who recommended them to me said that she had tried other products to no avail but this one had worked for her and so far, it has worked for me. Now Tess will approach her poo, sniff and then totally ignore it, which I couldn't be more pleased about. I just thought I'd mention it, in case your open to trying something different.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do, it is a nasty habit.
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:59 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the feedback guys. Sorry about the slow reply - I haven't been online much this week!

I think I've found a novel solution to him eating the grass after I've picked up - I just pick it up and dump a bucket over the site. He seems really confused by it - he just has a sniff around, and then generally just strolls off and leaves it. I'm hoping that keeping this up will de-sensitise him a bit. I'm giving him lots of praise and a treat if one's handy when he leaves the site alone.

As a rule now, he is not allowed out on his own in what we are now calling "the danger zone" (the times he usually does his business). Inconvenient and annoying, but it can't be helped I suppose.

Since doing this (since the weekend, really), he now seems to be getting a bit more interested in other dogs' mess. It's hard to tell, because I walk him off the lead, and mostly, in the dark at the moment, but I think he finding some on walks.

As for the diet thing - he does seem a bit skinny at the moment, although to be honest, I'm not sure how big he should be. He has pretty thick fur, so I can't really see his ribs, but I can feel them. I understand that this is normal, but I do wonder if maybe he's a bit hungry and this is making the problem worse. I am feeding him towards the higher end of the scale on the food packet (he has kibble - about 440g per day, plus a few tidbits/treats most days). Perhaps I'll up his food a bit.

I wanted to upload a pic for someone to comment on his weight, but I don't really have anything that shows his weight if that makes sense. This is the closest to a belly shot that I could find:
Hurley Pic
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Old 12-06-2012, 01:42 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Scarlett will eat her poop if it is the slightest bit soft. She LOVES bunny poop...it's so nasty!! We watch her when she goes out now and if she is even close to a pile, we use the electronic noise repeller. She does NOT like that noise and will immediately cease what she is doing. We then give her the positive tone and let her come in the house with us.

Poop eating seems to be a common GSD thing...among males and females. I don't know why. I'm sure someone on here has an answer.

The ONLY thing that has worked for us is vigiliance. We have to watch Scarlett like a hawk and catch her in the act. She is MUCH better than she was, particularly with regard to eating her own poop. Keeping her diet very constant and never allowing her to get stuff that will upset her system is critical.
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Old 12-10-2012, 06:56 PM   #10 (permalink)
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PMSL Sorry I couldn't help but laugh

I'm not any help but you could freeze it and use it as treats...very cheap hahaha Helping the planet by recycling your dogs poop...oooh maybe you could start a business with your dogs business!
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