Prevention & Recall is Best

Question:

Our dachshund, Scooter, is 16 months old.  We have 2 older dogs, as well. Problem is, Scooter likes to eat their poop.  We’ve tried giving the older dogs supplements, spraying the poop with distasteful things and we keep it picked up.

 

Dr. Nichol:

This is a truly revolting behavior. Puppies who partake in this detestable delicacy are usually just playfully investigating the wide world around them. Middle aged to older dogs can become recyclers because of stomach or intestinal disease, kidney failure, certain medications, or dementia. For Scooter, the young adult gangster of bad taste, confinement, insufficient social contact, inadequate canine-specific behavioral opportunities, or social isolation (bullying from another dog) may be responsible.

Like most intriguing behaviors, coprophagia (stool eating) has been studied. The typical criminal profile of the coprophagic dog next door includes retrievers, fast eaters, having been spayed or neutered, and, interestingly, those who were quickly house trained. Evil lurks where you least expect it.

The methods you have tried only work on dogs who are trying to quit anyway and, sadly, none of them want to. Start by clicker training Scooter. Allow him outside only with a basket muzzle. As soon as he has completed his elimination mission say, “Scooter, Come!” Right after he turns in your direction mark his good behavior with a click. Follow with a treat when he arrives in front of you. Baskerville muzzles are comfortable and have open gaps that make it easy to provide treats.

Correction at the moment of evil doing can be accomplished with a blast of citronella from a remote controlled collar. Unfortunately, these are short lived lessons. After a couple of weeks most feces consumers relapse. I understand how grossed-out you are. The Nichol family dog does not eat poop. Her name is Miss America. If I catch her just once, I guarantee that I will take decisive action. I’ll change her name, darn it!

 

Unruly behavior, barking, destructiveness, house soiling, biting, fighting: the list of canine shenanigans is almost endless. I’ll explain the problems and share the solutions at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Center, 4000 Montgomery Blvd NE in Albuquerque from 6-9 PM Wednesday, June14. Cost: $50. To register call 792-5131. Bring plenty of questions. I’ll give individual help. Pet parents only, please.

 

Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). Questions on pet behavioral or physical concerns? For answers, Like my Facebook page at facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.