So you’ve brought your puppy home and they are just this tiny fluffy mass of cuteness! Then, during the tough period of toilet training (which should start from the very day you bring your new pup home), you watch in delight as your puppy makes its way outside and begins to go… success!! But wait, what is your puppy doing now? Surely it’s not going to do THAT! But yes, your puppy turns around and promptly eats its own business!
This is a really common complaint for puppy owners so you are not alone! It’s also something non-dog owners simply can’t understand why we would want to talk about it! But if you’re like me and have a puppy who enjoys a mid-day snack then you will increasingly find yourself talking about this all the time! You’ll meet a new puppy owner in your local park and the conversation goes something like this: ‘oh what a cute puppy! What’s his name? Does he eat his own poo?!’ Sound familiar?
There’s a lot of theories on this very subject too; some will say your puppy is lacking nutrients in its food and therefore needs to find them elsewhere and others will say that your puppy watched its mother doing this in the litter (mothers clean up after their pups) and so he is just copying this learned behaviour. My theory? They actualy just enjoy it!
Of course there are things you can do to deter and even encourage this. For example, if you start making a fuss when your puppy goes to perform this act then you’ll end up increasing their excitment about what they’re doing. I made this very mistake when my dog was a puppy and after time it actually resulted in a game of ‘who’s going to get to the poo first!’ which provided my friends and family with much amusement. Because I had made such a fuss the first time she did it, and continued to do so, she got into the routine of going to the toilet and then quickly turning around and consuming it before I could remove it!
If you transfer this theory to children it may become clearer… I have a 2-year old neice and just the other day my sister was asking her what she had in her hand (she was holding a flip-flop) and my neice kept attempting to say the words ‘flip-flop’ over and over again… you can only imagine exactly how this sounded! My sister is a great mum and although she could have keeled over in fits of laughter she remained cool and didn’t say anything. If she had of done the former and laughed and then corrected herself and made a big deal about how my neice should not say that word, my neice could have thought this was highly amusing and then realising that she was saying ‘a naughty word’ she could have kept saying it… imagine how embarrassing that would have been at their next dinner party or children’s birthday!
So, my advice is this: your puppy WILL grow out of doing this, they WILL lose interest but YOU need to make sure they don’t have a chance to practise the behaviour. Remember, the more a puppy (or adult dog for that matter) practises a behaviour the more it becomes what is known as a ‘learned behaviour’ and they will continue to do this. So the next time your poo-eating puppy is in the garden or the park going to the toilet, calmly place them on a lead and simply use a ‘this way’ command to move them away once they’ve finished, making no fuss at all and not giving them the chance to eat it. You can then place it in a bin, safely out of the way of your eager puppy’s stomach and over time your puppy will lose interest in performing this taboo which all dog-owners like to discuss!