How to Get My Yorkie to Stop Eating Poop
How to Get My Yorkie to Stop Eating Poop
Just the other day, I was sitting on my chair with a mug of hot cocoa, watching the rain outside, until my moment was destroyed when a sharp stench filled my nostrils. I started dreading the worst: my little pup must be eating his own poop. Fortunately, I was proven wrong since the waste was right before my eyes inside the litter box and my pooch was busy chewing on the toy I had bought him last month. It has been two years now since my dog last ate his own filth.
If your Yorkie is eating poop, forget that it will give up this habit anytime soon. Yorkshire Terriers are some of the most stubborn breeds of dogs. They are so headstrong that once they set their mind to something, it will become difficult for you to convince them to do otherwise.
Many dogs eat their own poop, so your mutt isn’t an exception. However, with patience and perseverance, you can get rid of this awful habit that your dog has cultivated.
Why Is My Dog Eating Poop Anyway?
This is a question often asked by dog owners whose mutts are getting in the habit of eating their own poop. Why is my dog eating its own poop? Well, your Yorkie isn’t an exception.
Dogs of any breed might start consuming their feces or the feces of other living beings, be it cats, cows, chickens or horses. Unlike us humans, they don’t have a highly developed brain to tell them that what smells nauseating is not something they should put into their system. Hence, they will happily eat their own shit without being grossed out. They might even consider gulping down another dog’s shit.
Some scientists claim that dogs are predisposed to consuming their own feces, but the process is triggered in only a few of them. There is no one answer to this question, but there are many reasons behind why your pooch is showing this unpleasant behavior.
Some factors which might have contributed to this practice in your dog are explained below. The first step toward preventing your dog from eating its shit is to look at the causes compelling it to do so.
Fillers in Dog Food
Many dog food brands have fillers, which reduce the quality of the food. Fillers are food items such as grains which have zero nutritional value for your dog. That is because they remain undigested while in your dog’s body and come down the tract unchanged. Fillers are used by companies to beef up their product and are not nutritious. They are only used to make the food cheaper to produce.
Your dog starts eating poop because, to it, its stool is similar to the low-quality food you might be giving it.
Physical and Emotional Abuse
Many dogs start this habit in order to not upset their owner and make them angry. If you have been scolding your dog too often or punishing it for its conduct, the chances are that your dog might be eating its own poop for fear that you will scold it for defecating.
Remember that Yorkshires are companion dogs and love to be around you and make you happy. If you are getting angry at them at every little thing, you are emotionally destroying them.
Think of them as your own family member. You have to give importance to the feelings of all your family members. Similarly, you have to give love to your little Terrier so that it will not resort to eating its own poop, thinking that if it does not get rid of it, it behavior might bring out the worst in you.
If you have been chasing your dog to get poop off its paws or getting up to clean its poop while waving your hands about, there is a solid chance that your dog is enjoying all this and wants more of it. It will think you are excited and are playing a game with it. All the chasing is making it as excited as when you throw a frisbee at it and ask it to catch it.
Some dogs eat their own poop because there is nothing else to do. Isn’t that convenient? Your dog needs something to bite, chew or scratch, but when it gets fed up doing it over and over again, it might consider indulging in the behaviors you so detest. Having nothing else to do can make your dog get inventive and try experimenting with its waste.
Dogs like to be with humans, and some might even have separation anxiety which makes it extremely hard for you to leave them alone at home. When they get anxious, they start whining, crying or even trembling. They are also said to have accidental bowel movements where they might urinate or defaecate out of anxiety.
This is a serious problem for them because they are fearing the worst. In such cases, they might start worrying about you abandoning them, so they would probably eat up their own poop to relieve you of the task of picking it. They might think that in this way, you will reconsider your decision of leaving them.
Symptom of Health Problems
The correct term for your dog’s condition is coprophagy where it would ingest its poop. Coprophagy can be a symptom of many different health conditions. Your dog’s behavior can also be indicative that it is sick. Common conditions your dog might have include:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Thyroid disease
- Cushing’s syndrome
It is possible that your dog is trying to get nutrients from its poop which it otherwise isn’t getting. Malnourished dogs often look for ways to satiate their hunger and eat things that might give them what their bodies need. That is one reason why many dogs start eating litter from dumpsters and would eat waste material as well.
Dogs are not obligate carnivores like cats. Instead, they are scavengers who, in the wild, feed on dead bodies. As dead bodies also give off an unpleasant smell, it’s not out of the ordinary when your Yorkie goes for foul-smelling feces.
Stress Due to Isolation
Dogs kept in isolation have a fair chance of eating their feces. They like living in close proximity to people, but if they are left in a confined place such as a kennel, they might start consuming their fecal matter out of stress. When under duress, it is common for them to do things they wouldn’t if they were living close to their owners and getting the love they deserve.
Just as humans like to be in the spotlight, so do dogs. Yorkies will do anything to get your attention and if eating poop can get the job done, so be it. Dogs, like little children, want to have your attention all to themselves. At times, they will go to the extreme to achieve that goal.
They can sense it when you get attentive toward them. This habit might have made you show a lot of concern toward your dog, which it has started liking. Hence, it is possible that your Yorkie is doing all this just for your attention.
Eating Food Near Feces
Another probable cause for eating poop is that you are feeding your dog near its litter box. As a result, it might associate the odor of its stool with that of food. Hence, it will eat its stool as well without ever noticing that it is not the food it eats. Plus, placing your pet’s bowl near the litter box might have made it inaccurately associate the smell of feces with the time to eat food, prompting it to eat whenever it defecates.
Learned from the Crib
When they are little pups snuggling close to their mother, dogs might start associating the smell of their mother’s mouth and food with that of their stool. All things will start being equated to one. Thus, in their mind, poop is not a bad, foul thing for them as it is for you. Dogs have a strong olfactory sense, meaning they perceive the world in a different way from how we see it. For them, the reality is formed as a result of the smells they encounter.
Also, some claim that dogs learn to eat poop from their mothers, who might have the smell of feces on them after they had cleaned their puppies or even after eating poop themselves.
Intestinal Parasites in the Gut
There are parasites which usually infest the guts of dogs. Most dogs have parasites residing inside them, and they might even acquire them from dirty surroundings such as from the feces of a dog infested with these intestinal worms. These parasites feed on the food in your dog’s stomach and intestines, taking away the nutrition your dog should be getting.
Hence, even if you are giving enough food to your Yorkie, it might still be lacking in essential nutrients and may look for other means to get them. It might then start searching for them in its stool.
Cat Poop Smells Delicious
Your Yorkshire Terrier might eat your cat’s poop because it smells good. The reason is simple. Cat food is rich in proteins and has far more nutrients than dog food. The poop, too, then smells good to your dog, which is the reason why it goes for it because it smells so delicious.
Should I Be Worried?
When your dog starts eating poop, it is definitely a cause for concern as it might contract diseases and get sick. There are several health issues which may be caused because of this all-too-eccentric behavior of your mutt. As all defecated matter has bacteria which cause diseases, consuming it can naturally cause a number of diseases in your dog.
Health Problems Caused
The type of health issues your Yorkshire Terrier might develop depends on whose feces it has been feasting on. For instance, if it is eating its own feces or that of another dog, it runs the risk getting the following conditions:
- Weak immune system
- Dry, scaly skin
- Dull coat
- Weak bones
- Dental problems
- Gas problems, leading to excessive farting
If your Yorkie has been consuming the feces of another dog, there is a fair chance that it will get worms like whipworms, tapeworms, hookworms and roundworms in its digestive tract. If your dog continues eating poop, it will be more challenging to get it rid of all worms, which will lead to more health complications.
The following are the diseases which are common in dogs engaged in coprophagy:
The Initial Question: How Can I Prevent My Yorkie from Eating Poop?
Seeing your dog eat up muck is a revolting sight, but more disgusting than that is the fact that your dog has a mouth that stinks. Thankfully, there are ways to make it stop this practice. Depending on the cause behind your dog’s behavior, you can pick out ways which will work best for your Yorkie.
This list is not exhaustive and only tells you the most basic ways in which you can eliminate the option of your dog devouring its poop. There are innumerable other ways to stop your Yorkie right now.
Feed Quality Dog Food
Choose a dog food with little to no fillers. Carefully look at the ingredients of the brand you pick out and see if it has used too many grains. Food should be healthy and wholesome. It should have all the ingredients essential for your little friend. A dog’s diet needs to be high in proteins and fats with minimum to no carbohydrates.
Choosing food which is easier for your dog to digest and rich in the nutrients it needs is important if you want your dog to halt the disgusting habit it has gotten into. Nutrients in quality food will be fully absorbed by your dog’s gut, leaving little need for it to search for nutrients in its feces.
Cook Food Yourself
If you have a hard time trusting a brand, cook food for your dog at home. There is no alternative for a wholesome, home-cooked meal. Make sure the food you cook for your pooch is high in proteins as well as fats with a low amount of fiber and does not contain anything that could be harmful for it.
Make Sure the Treats Are Nutritious
Go for treats that do not have any additives or preservatives as both are bad. Wholesome treats can give your dog the nutrients it needs and keep it focused at eating the food it likes.
Keep Its Surroundings Clean
Watch out for any possible ways in which your dog can get close to any poop. Keep its surroundings clean. If you keep it in a crate, make sure you give it ample time to have a bowel movement before it goes back into its crate. Litter train it so that you can know where its poop is and get rid of it before it gets a chance to put it in its mouth. If you keep your dog in a yard, again, do not forget to clean the area once it is done defecating.
Use a Collar
When you take your dog out for a walk, use a collar or leash so that it does not roam about and start picking up waste matter off the road. You can even train it on what to eat and what’s not okay to eat with a simple tug at the leash. If it is something edible, loosen up the leash, but if it is poop that your dog is trying to take a sniff off, tighten the leash. This will train your furry baby to think of feces as something it must not consume at any cost, just like you train it not to touch other things at your home.
Keep Track of Bowel Movements
Keep track of your pet’s bowel movements and find out how much time it takes to digest food and defecate after each meal. This way, you will know if your dog will be eating its poop when you will not be around.
If you are leaving your Yorkshire Terrier at home, do make sure that it relieves itself before you leave. In your absence, if it passes stool, it is more likely to fiddle with it and eat it, making a mess before you get back. A record of the bowel movements of your Terrier will keep you informed when to expect your dog to poop so that you can wipe it clean and not let your dog touch it.
Since most dogs develop a habit to eat their food just because they get bored, it is only reasonable to reduce their boredom. Give your dog toys to play with so that you can avoid catching it playing with its poop.
There are a range of toys in the market. Buy the ones which will interest your dog the most and keep it entertained for a long while. Canines like to chew on things, so a toy made specially for chewing would be a fine choice for your mutt.
Take It Out for a Walk
You need to keep your dog entertained, at least for a reasonable period, to put its mind off eating undesirable waste products. Walk with it for at least 30 minutes and pick up its poop in its wake. Doing this will sufficiently reduce the likelihood of the undesirable happening.
Keep Away Poop of Other Animals
If you have other pets at home, keep their litter boxes away from your Yorkie’s reach. For cats, try to keep it at a raised platform and if you have other dogs, consider crate training them.
You can try a lid box for litter as well. After your dog is finished with the task, secure the lid of the litter so that it becomes inaccessible to it. You can even put the litter on a table which your dog cannot climb. Take your dog to the box on the table when it needs to defecate. Once it has had its bowel movement, take it off the table. In this way, you will reduce the chances of coprophagy in your dog.
Teach Command Words to Your Dog
You can teach a command word to your dog to make it refrain from an action. Common command words include “stop” or “leave it.” This is a way by which you can train your Yorkie to give up bad habits and cultivate good ones. When it goes near its poop with the intention to pick it up, stop it by saying “leave it.” If your pet gets away from the poop, pat its back, nuzzle it and treat it. Repeat this a few times until it seeps well into its brain that poop is not what it should be putting in its mouth.
Stop Chasing It Around
If your dog has its mouth filled with poop, do not chase it. It will start believing that its action is something exciting and get thrilled by the whole scenario. Remember that you do not want it to enjoy coprophagy; you want to refrain it from the act. Hence, whenever your pet puts poop in its mouth, maintain a calm composure and do not go after it. Say the command word from wherever you are and see how it goes. Chasing will only give it the wrong idea, and it will not understand that it is doing something he shouldn’t.
Cure Separation Anxiety
You can cure separation anxiety, which can reduce your dog’s stress and, as a result, its coprophagy. Try calming it down when it is feeling anxious. Use a command word which tells it you will be back soon. Some owners leave out their dirty laundry near their dogs. You can try this technique as well because it makes your dog think you are around.
Also, when you get back home, do not get too excited upon seeing your dog. Instead, have a calm and collected demeanor around it and pat it briefly after you have moved about the house for a few minutes.
Have Screening Tests
Schedule an appointment with the vet and get your dog screened for parasites. As mentioned before, parasites are one reason for your dog behaving this way. Two screening tests per year are more than enough to look out for parasites. These tests are necessary because you will need to follow the medical procedure suggested by your vet in order to disinfest your dog’s body of worms.
Be on the Lookout for Worms
Do not ever let your dog near things or areas from where it can get worms as they are one of the leading causes behind making your dog devour its poop. Keep the litter box as well as your house clean. Do not leave feces around for a long time. Trash it out as soon as you can. Make sure your dog does not even go near another dog’s poop because there’s a fair chance it will have worms. When at home, examine your dog’s poop for any signs of these wriggling creatures.
Crate Train It
If your pet eats poop often, keep it away from litter by keeping your furry baby inside a crate. You can crate train your dog by making the crate as inviting as possible and treating it afterwards if it remains in the crate for a few minutes. This can come in handy when you want to keep your dog away from its poop or want to leave it alone for a while.
Do Not Punish Your Pet
Do not punish you dog for eating its poop or for doing something wrong. If you punish it a lot, it will start stressing out. You need to understand a few basics of your dog’s psychology to make it stop eating its poop. If you find it eating fecal matter, use the command word to stop it, but don’t punish him because it will not understand why it’s being punished.
According to one theory, dogs eat their poop because their diet lacks essential nutrients. Vitamin B deficiency is quite common in dogs, and many brands miss out on this nutrient when manufacturing their products. Try using supplements of this vitamin, but before you proceed, consult your vet to find out if your dog’s diet lacks this vitamin in the first place.
Use Meat Tenderizer
Dogs are canines, so their diets should be high in protein and fat. Usually, dog foods have a high amount of fillers in them and a small portion of meat in the kibble. A good way to make the meat digestible for your dog is to use a meat tenderizer that contains enzymes. It will tenderize the meat, making it easier for you pooch to digest it. The better the food is digested, the more nutrients are absorbed in your dog’s body and the lower the chances of your dog having the urge to inspect its poop.
Try Using Taste Averters
There are products known as deterrents which make poop taste disgusting to your dog’s palate. The idea is that poop does not taste all that bad to your dog, but if you add products which will make poop taste foul, your pet will refrain from eating it. However, consult your vet before using these products as they contain chemicals which can cause allergies in some dogs.
Reduce the Odor of Your Cat’s Feces
If you have a cat and your dog eats your cat’s poop too, consider buying a product that can suppress the odor of your cat’s poop. When the cat’s poop will lose the odor that your dog liked so much, it will be less likely to put the poop in its mouth.
Get It to Exercise
Keep your dog’s digestive system healthy and functional by doing a little exercise with it. Make sure it does some exercise each day depending on its size. Follow your vet’s advice for the kind of routine you should follow.
Keep the Food Bowl Away from the Litter Box
Do not feed your dog in close proximity to its litter box. When it’s time to eat food, take it to a separate area which is not near its litter box or toilet. Place its bowl before it in a neat and tidy place so that this clean area is what it associates with its meal and not the foul-smelling litter box.
Reevaluate Your Behavior Toward Your Yorkie
If you have been abusive toward your dog, it is time you reevaluate your behavior. Dogs are a man’s best friend. Being loyal and friendly, they will stay by your side no matter what. Try to give them the love they need so that they don’t eat their feces just because they are too stressed out.
It is a delight to have a Yorkie for a pet, but your life can become hard if it starts eating poop. There are ways in which you can help your Yorkie break this habit. The reason why some find it difficult to bring their dogs out of it is that we tend to get a little impatient, wondering why dogs can’t understand such a simple thing that poops are not meant for eating. The best way to deal with it is to be a bit patient with your dog and persevere in your goal.
If you want a permanent solution to this problem, start by first looking at the reasons why your dog is adding poop into its system. If you find the cause, you can decide the steps you need to take to get effective results. Get your dog screened against possible diseases and listen to your vet’s advice in this matter. Keep your dog’s psyche in mind so that when you see it sniffing poop, resist yourself from the temptation of using a tone other than a poised one. With the steps in this article, you will have your Yorkie leave its shit alone just like mine in no time.