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Jane Lefler
Jane Lefler, Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 19760
Experience:  Behaviorist /Trainer and Dog breeder 18+ years
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I have a dog that eats his and everyone else feces. How to

Customer Question

I have a dog that eats his and everyone else feces. How to stop? I have 3 other dogs that uses the bathroom in the house. How do I stop this? One dog constantly barks and scratches? Can you help? May have other problems later but these are the important ones now.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 8 months ago.

Hi Jacustomer,

My name is ***** ***** I’ve been involved professionally with dogs in the health and behavioral fields for over 18 years. It will be my pleasure to work with you today.

In order to supply you with an informed answer, it is necessary for me to collect some additional information from you. When I receive your response or reply, it will likely take me between 30-45 minutes to type up my reply if I am still online when I receive notice that you replied. I hope you can be patient.

So you have 4 dogs in total?

Does this new dog eliminate in the house as well?

What breed are these dogs?

Is the one that barks all the time, the boss of the other dogs?

do you mean he scratches himself or something else?

Have any of these dogs ever had any obedience training?

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 8 months ago.

I was hoping to get a response back but let me start on your questions as best as I can. Lets first address the house training issue. With so many dogs you are going to need to train them all at once but concentrate on whichever dog is the boss first.

During crate training, you will be having your dogs confined either in a crate or confined to a very small area which optimally will only allow the dog room to lay down in. Dogs will generally not soil an area where they sleep. You will take them each out separately. If you take them together, you can not reward them for eliminating outside and they are liable to play rather than eliminate. Once all have eliminated OUTSIDE you can then allow them some uncrated time to play.

When you feed or give your dogs water, take the dog immediately outside to go to the bathroom. Also take the dogs out first thing in the morning, last thing at night and after extended play times and when they wake up after a nap. Take your dog to an area where you want your dog to go and preferably one that has been used previously. Allow your dog approximately 10-15 minutes to go to the bathroom. If your dog doesn't produce, take your dog inside and cage them again. If your dog does produce results allow her some uncrated time as a reward before crating or containing the dog again. Now when a dog does eliminate outside immediately give the dog nice calm praise and a tiny sliver of hot dog. The dog will start associate going outside with getting treats and be more liable to do it the next time.

If your dog didn't go to the bathroom, take your dog out again about 30 minutes later and repeat this until your dog goes. Praise your dog profusely when your dog succeeds and is on the leash. This will teach your dog that it needs to go when you take your dog out and not play around first.

Some dogs learn quicker than others do, but once you have your dog going when it is on the leash and each time you take your dog out, you should be able to stop containing your dog. It is a lot of work, but pays off in the long run. Remember no playing or praise until your dog succeeds in going outside on a leash.

The key is no time outside of the crate unless you can have your eye on them constantly to pick them up and take them out if you see the classic sign of impending bowel movement or urination. Also, scolding a dog for going in the house does no good unless you catch them in the act. If you do catch them, a firm NO and trip outside should be done. Remember to clean any area inside they have gone with a good ENZYMATIC pet deodorizing cleaner. In addition, you need to let the cleaner soak into the carpet and down into the padding to remove the odor. Here is a site with more information on crate training.

This is how I house train all my dogs. In addition, put a bell or other noise maker on the door low enough for the dog to reach. Each time you take the dog out, ring the bell. The dog will associate ringing the bell with going out and one day ring the bell to signal to you that he/she needs to go out. Once they all seem to only be going outside, then start taking two out at a time and then another until they are all house trained.

An alternative if they are smaller dogs is a sod patch. You take a large pan like a kitty litter pan or even a baby swimming pool. You create a platform frame with wire on top. Place newspaper or other absorbent material such as wood shavings under the platform and place sod on top of the wire frame. Since it is grass, your dog will go on it. You can remove solids and can spray the urine so it moves through and down into the absorbent material underneath. This lets you use the same piece of sod for a while before needing to replace it. You do need to replace the material under the platform.

I have clients that use small swimming pools for their larger dogs and keep them in a basement or balcony if apartment dwellers.

That should take care of your house training issue though it is going to be a lot of work.

Now onto the barking. As crazy as this sounds you may wish to teach the dog the speak command and then the quiet command. It seems easier to teach the quiet command after the dog has learned the speak command. The following site explains teaching speak and quiet commands.

You also have the option of getting a bark collar such as citronella spray collar or shock bark collars that will stop excessive barking. I can't address the scratching since I'm not sure whether he is scratching himself or something else.

Now to the feces eating dog. This is called Coprophagia. Many dogs eat their own feces. Some eat any feces they find. Cat feces seem to be a favorite. No cause has been determined as to why dogs do this though some believe it may be a dietary deficiency while others believe it to be an obsessive compulsion disorder. If you are not feeding your dog a high quality dog food, you may wish to try switching foods. Some believe that if a dog is experiencing mal absorption problems the stool will smell like food and thus the dog eats it thinking it is food. Additionally, some dogs learn this behavior from their moms since they keep the den clean. As parasites are contracted frequently through feces, your dog should be tested for parasites. Blood tests can be run to rule out a medical cause. The best thing to do is try and curb your dog's tendency to do it.

Number one thing to do is to get the temptation out of the picture by removing feces out of the yard as soon as possible and keep it cleaned up. If you are taking the dogs out as part of house training, then you can clean it up before that dog is outside. You can also put hot sauce or other pepper product on them so the dog finds then terrible tasting. There are over the counter products that you can give your dog daily to prevent this condition. They work in some cases and if it works for you, then it’s an easy solution. You'd have to feed all the dogs the forbid in order to have all the feces taste bad to the dog. You can buy them at most pet stores. :

It will be harder to treat if your dog eats it’s own feces right after going. You will need to be with your dog when it is going and divert your dog away from it, praising your dog when it does not try and eat it. A firm “leave it” and correction should be said when he tries to eat it and comes in handy in the future for other items you do not want your dog eating.

You can read more about Coprophagia here.

If you are house training this dog as well, you can start leave it training as well to stop him from eating fecal matter. He'll learn quickly not to eat feces if he wants the good treats.

I hope this information is helpful to you. If you would like any additional information or have more questions please don’t hesitate to press the reply to expert or continue conversation button so I can address any issues you still have . If you do find this helpful, please take this opportunity to rate my answer positively so I am compensated for my time.

Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 8 months ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?
Jane Lefler
Expert:  Jane Lefler replied 8 months ago.

Hi Again,

I just thought I'd check in to see how things are going for you and your dog. Let me know if my answer was helpful.