Why does my puppy eat his poo?

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If your puppy eats his poo on a regular basis, then behaviourist Claire Arrowsmith may be able to offer some tips on how to stop him...

Q) How can I stop my five-month-old Cocker Spaniel puppy from eating his poo on a daily basis? I have tried ignoring him, telling him ‘No' in a firm voice, and distracting him with a treat, all to no avail.

A) Behaviourist Claire Arrowsmith says: Coprophagia always evokes horror in owners. The truth is that most puppies will engage in the activity at some stage during the normal events of exploration and discovery.

However, most grow out of it. In a few dogs there is a medical issue driving the desire, but for the majority they simply learn that this habit has some merit.

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It sounds as though your puppy learned that eating poo was tasty and that it provoked a response from you. This is still early days and with a good, strict routine you should be able to alter your pup's habits.

Firstly all excursions into your garden need to be supervised until this has been resolved. He should be on a long line so that he can move about and find a location to toilet in, but you can maintain distance control over his movements. When he finishes pooing you should call him excitedly and gently guide him away from the waste. If you have taught a good recall response this will help and he should be given a very nice reward for coming away.

Some owners have found that tossing treats down on the ground just as their dog finishes toileting is a better way of drawing them from the poo. They can eat the treat and then be guided inside.

You must go out and pick up the poo each time, preferably when your dog is not present since you do not want to draw attention to it and make him think it is a valuable resource that should be grabbed at every opportunity.

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