By Steve Dale for WebVet.com
Q: My dog has a nasty habit of eating other dogs' poop when we're out on walks. It's gross and I yank him away and tell him no every time, but he still goes after it. How do I stop him from doing this?
A: The problem even has a fancy name: coprophagia. No one knows for sure why some dogs begin to sample. Once tasted, some dogs decide it's a delicacy. Some dogs even have preferences, such as frozen poopsicles in winter.
There are several products on the market that you can sprinkle on food, such as Forbid or Deter, or Lowry's seasoned salt (don't overdo it); the results are mixed at best.
Some veterinarians suggest the problem in some dogs is lack of proper nutritional absorption, and recommend a nutritional supplement called ProZyme. Sometimes this works; mostly it doesn't do a thing.
One website, www.dogpoopdiet.com, offers a supplement guaranteed to work or buyers receive 120 percent of their money back. Bet you might be better off in Vegas.
Teach your dog to pay attention to you on the walk. As you're teaching this -- do the best you can to stay away from stool.
There are several methods. One is to take special treats on the walk and hold them half way up between the dog's nose and your face and say "watch me"or "watch here." Only when your dog makes eye contact, offer the reward.
Another method is to clicker train for this, which a certified dog trainer or dog behavior consultant can show you how. Before testing the cue on poo, take your dog to place with good smells - like a neighborhood fire hydrant, and while your dog is intently sniffing, say "watch me." If you dog does it, move on to the poo.
Be sure you take an especially excellent motivator with you on this walk, like cut up hot dogs or cut up lunch meat (low fat and low salt). Your dog will be totally motivated knowing you have the heavy artillery.
Even if you scale back (and you should) to just plain dog treats rather than hot dogs, or cheese (low fat, low salt), that's probably a preferred choice to poop. Dogs are fast, and you may not catch him each time. Still the hope is that eventually he will hopefully "get out of the habit."
Of course, eating another dog's stool is not particularly the ideal of health food, and may contain parasites - not to mention that doggy breath. I will stop here.
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