My Dog Has Dry Skin and Dandruff


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Dear AKC: My 18-month-old Boston Terrier has very dry skin lately. He scratches at himself and leaves dandruff all over the place. His coat is dull and lost its shine. Is there something I can put on his coat or feed him? — Dand”Ruff” Dilemma Dear Ruff: Anytime skin symptoms arise, you need to look at possible internal or external causes. There could be several problems relating to dry skin including food allergies or intolerances, parasites – especially fleas — or worms, or some overall immune issue like Thyroid disease. Always consult with your vet if the problem worsens or persists. My Dog Has Dry Skin and DandruffBut your description sounds like a simple case of cold weather dry skin or with the days getting longer he is beginning to shed and has an abundance of “dead coat” causing dandruff. The best way to help your dog’s coat regain its lost luster is to give him a good brushing. Do it daily. Start with a rubber mitt with little nubs on it and rub the coat in a circular fashion to remove any loose hair and caked on dirt, sweat, slobber, or whatever had stuck to your dog on his daily walk or romp. Brushing & Rubbing Secrets By using long sweeping strokes with the lie of the coat, you will not only pick up dirt and debris, which causes dullness, but also stimulate the oil glands in the epidermis (top layer) of the skin. Bushing releases these oils, which adds a shine to the coat. When brushing, use one hand for the brush and, ideally after each stroke, run a comb through the brush to remove the dead skin and flakes out of the brush. This way dirt won’t get ground back into the coat. Start with a coarser brush first, then add a softer “finishing” brush followed by a towel or rub rag. Reducing the bristle size each time removes smaller and smaller particles of dirt. By the time you get down to the rub rag (an old cotton diaper works wonders) you are literally just picking up surface dust and stimulating oil glands onto a nice grit-free coat. All this rubbing promotes better blood circulation which aids in the growing and shedding cycles. After grooming, to keep dirt from adhering in the first place, try adding a little tea tree oil spray to act as a repellant. This spray will also condition the coat and add luster after the rag rubbing. Another option for this cold weather dry skin is to add a touch of fish oil with Omega 3 and 6 to his diet.

Positive Dog Training Explained

More and more trainers are switching to a positive style of training these days. This makes me rather happy as I have made the switch myself. I figured I would answer some questions and address some misconceptions involved with positive training because I feel like there are still a lot of people that don’t fully understand how it works and the benefits that can come from it.

What is Positive training exactly?

When the term “positive” is used in regards to training it means to add something. If you are trying to increase the frequency of a behavior you can add something that the dog enjoys directly after the dog does the behavior. This is referred to as Positive Reinforcement. By doing this, it makes the dog very likely to repeat the behavior that got him the good things. Positive training focuses on teaching the dog what to do, and then positively reinforcing it, which makes it very likely the dog will do it again.

An example would be rewarding the dog for sitting instead of jumping when a guest arrives. If the dog greets the guest by sitting it receives the attention it is looking for or even another type of reward that is of higher value. By rewarding the dog for sitting, it is very likely that the decision to sit when guests arrive will happen again. Just like any style of training, in order to have success with this system you need to have repetition. This repetition represents practice runs. Just like humans, dogs have to practice their skills to sustain or increase their abilities. The idea behind this is it teaches the dog what you would like it to do. It also teaches the dog what it needs to do in order to get what it wants.

Do Positive trainers use punishment?

The answer is yes. Positive trainers do use punishment. By definition punishment is doing something that decreases the frequency of a behavior. There are two ways to decrease the frequency of a behavior. You can add something, (Positive Punishment) or you can take something away, (Negative Punishment.) Positive trainers ironically do not use Positive Punishment. What positive trainers use when it comes to punishment is the Negative variety.  Here is an example of how to use Negative Punishment: Guest arrives and the dog is overly excited resulting in lots of jumping. To punish this behavior the dog is removed for a minute or two. After the time is up the dog is allowed to try to greet the guest again. If the dog makes the correct decision it is allowed to greet the guest. This works by taking away what the dog wants. What I like about this is that if the dog is willing to put up such a big stink about the guest, it means the dog really wants to meet the guest. This means that taking the guest away will be an effective way to teach the dog what is appropriate and what is not.

But I’ve tried Positive training and it doesn’t work.

I see this statement online more than anywhere and it is a big reason why I decided to write this. I feel like not fully understanding how positive training works is a big reason why some people don’t see the results they are looking for. Also, just like any style of training, repetition is a must to have any success. What I have found with doing this style of training is that it takes fewer repetitions to get to the desired point than other styles. I think patience is a big part of this too. Owning a dog takes patience. If you are not a patient person, owning a dog may not be the right choice for you.

Also, there are thousands of trainers around the world that are successfully helping dogs (and their people) conquer their issues using only positive methods. These issues can be small like basic obedience all the way up to big problems like severe behavioral issues. My question is; how could thousands of people be employed doing something that doesn’t work?

But the dog is only doing it because I have food.

There is a difference between positive reinforcement and bribery. If I hold a hotdog out in plain sight and tell a dog to come, I would be bribing it. There is nothing wrong with using food as a tool to train. It can be an excellent motivator. The ultimate goal is to build habits, so why not use something that the dog really enjoys? Wouldn’t it make the dog develop habits quicker if it were getting things it likes along the way? The answer is yes. Working together as a team allows you to accomplish things much quicker. It works out well because the human gets what it wants, (Dog to do a certain behavior) and the dog gets what he wants. (Toy or food reward.)

But it won’t work for serious issues.

This is false as well. As I mentioned above, there are thousands of trainers that do this for a living that only use positive methods. The science behind fixing serious behavioral issues consists of addressing the underlying issue of why it is actually happening. By changing the way that the dog feels about _______, the unwanted behaviors associated with it start to dissipate as well. The only reason why this won’t work for serious issues is because you don’t fully know what you’re doing. This isn’t a jab at you; this is why professionals do it for a living. Hiring a professional is a great way for you to learn how to train and accomplish things in a positive way.

But a strong dog needs a strong hand.

As a professional trainer I work with any breed of dog. I’ve worked with Rotts, Mastiffs, Pits and a lot of the other “strong” breeds out there. My methods don’t change with them because I get results the same way I do with any other dog.

But I’ve always done it another way.

There is not a better time to switch than now. I switched, so can you! By switching you can see how much fun training your dog can be! It is such a wonderful feeling to see your dog’s skills increase. (And yours.) Don’t be afraid to switch. Once you get the hang of it you will have a lot of fun!

Check out some of my YouTube videos below to help you get started! Click the Subscribe button for automatic updates when new videos come out.

Click here:

 

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org)  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates , specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by .

Man Offers His Truck as Reward for Return of Missing Dog

Man Offers His Truck as Reward for Return of Missing Dog

Buddy Boy has been missing since Wednesday morning. Image via James O’Sicky.

Many of us would give anything for our dogs, and one Florida man is no exception.

James O’Sicky posted to the Facebook buy-and-sell group ‘Swip Swap Jacksonville’ on Thursday morning, desperate to find his missing dog, Buddy Boy. In exchange for Buddy Boy’s return, he’s willing to give up just about anything, including his only form of transportation, a GMC pickup.

Man Offers His Truck as Reward for Return of Missing DogThe truck is replaceable, Buddy Boy is not, O’Sicky explained to . The dog, who has been a part of O’Sicky’s family for three years, disappeared from his fenced yard sometime on Wednesday morning. Although James and several friends searched through the night, Buddy Boy was not found. So, O’Sicky, devastated, turned to Facebook for help.

Dozens of dog lovers immediately set off in search of Buddy Boy, refusing to accept the man’s truck if he’s found.

Buddy Boy was last seen near New Berlin Road in the north side of Jacksonville. James says he is friendly. Anyone who sees him should contact James O’Sicky at 904-614-7832

 

Can Dogs Get Diseases from Wildlife?


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Dear AKC: I just brought home an eight-week-old American Eskimo Dog puppy. He's had his first shots but I'm concerned about where to walk him in my backyard as I have an abundance of wildlife including some baby foxes and raccoons. Are there any diseases that he might get from the wildlife that his vaccines aren't protecting him from? — Wildlife Woes in Wyoming

Dear WW: You are right to be concerned about the wildlife in your backyard for two reasons. First, they do carry diseases which can be transmitted to your puppy like and rabies and second your puppy is not fully immunized at his young age. Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) is carried by a number of wildlife carnivorous species such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, otters, weasels, coyotes, wolves and even mink. In fact, CDV is fairly common among wildlife. It is spread through the secretions and excretions of infected animals usually in airborne particles that other animals, including dogs, can breathe in. The good news is that the virus doesn't survive very long once it is outside of the body. Rabies is similarly passed through secretions but usually as the result of a bite from a rabid host. All mammals are capable of carrying rabies, but it is mostly found in bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes.

Vaccination Schedule

At only eight-weeks-old your puppy has very little immunity to either disease. When canine puppies are born they get their first dose of immunity from their mother's milk. When a puppy gets his first suckle shortly after birth, antibodies from the mother's own vaccines are passed along.

Until the puppy is six-to-eight-weeks-old, when he gets his first vaccine, he relies only on what his mother gave him. Puppies between the ages of three to six months (12 to 26 weeks) are most susceptible to contracting distemper. And if they do, it is usually fatal in 80 percent of the cases. Those who do survive, face lifelong nervous system damage and possible seizures for the rest of their lives. So this is something you don't want your puppy to get.

Keep Wildlife at Bay

Since your backyard contains wildlife high on the disease hit list your puppy might be at risk for infection, if there is CDV or rabies lurking amongst the wildlife.

Here are some tips to keeping your puppy out of harm's way until his immunity is stronger:

Always walk your puppy on a leash. Don't let him sniff excrement or dead animals.
Set up a fenced-in area that is wildlife proof.
Do not leave pet food outside that might entice wildlife to venture towards your house. Don't feed the wildlife. You don't want them thinking your house is the local fast food hang out.
Place your garbage cans inside the garage. Raccoons are notorious for opening garbage lids and having a feast, possibly leaving infected garbage remnants around for curious puppies.

Be diligent about following up on your puppy's vaccine schedule. Until he is at least six months old and well on his way to full immunity I wouldn't let your puppy explore your backyard wildlife preserve.

Ask the Trainer: Help! My Dog Barks at Everything!

Dear Kevin,
I just read through the Dogington Post an article about What if a person’s dog barks at them all the time? TJ barks when I come in the door, he barks when I’m just sitting there watching tv, he barks at me a lot. He will walk up to me when I’m at the computer and sit down and bark. It gets very annoying sometimes. Is there any way for him to stop?
– Betty G.

 

Hi Betty,

Barking can definitely be very annoying. The first thing I would do is make sure that all of TJ’s needs are met. Examples of needs are food, water, physical and mental exercise, going outside to eliminate, attention from a human etc. When all these needs are met we can then start to talk about how to modify this behavior. One thing you can do is work on a stop barking cue. I teach this by telling the dog, “quite” and then presenting a treat. With repetition of this upon hearing the word quiet the barking will stop. When you are training this ask for longer periods of quiet before giving the reward. In the long run the rewards will not be needed. If the barking is as extreme as I am imagining this may only work temporarily. I still wanted to list it as an option though.

Another system that you can go with is introducing a mat that he has to go to lie down on, and remain there. If done correctly this can be taught as a place of relaxation. What I like about this is it gives him a place to go to that he can do the right thing. There are multiple ways to teach this. For simplicity sake just lure him over to the mat with a treat and put him in a down. Start giving him lots of rewards on the mat. Ask him to stay there for a short period of time and then release him to get off. Keep repeating this resulting in having him stay there for longer periods of time. This will give him something constructive to do. (With all the repetition and reinforcement for being on the mat he may be naturally drawn to it.)

Now that he has something constructive to do we can talk about how to punish this behavior. When he starts barking at you what I recommend doing is looking at him and calmly saying, “no.” He will most likely continue barking. The very next thing you do is tell him, “too bad” and remove him from your presence. (He can be put in another room or a crate, etc.) The idea is that he isn’t around you. (Yes I said crate. If he doesn’t enjoy being in his crate you can avoid using it. I have used it for tons of dogs and it did not show any negative results in regards to how they felt about their crate.) Remove him for 2-3 minutes. If he is quiet allow him to come back and hang out with you. Since the mat has been introduced he has the option to go and lie on it. In the beginning he probably won’t and will most likely go right back to barking at you. Repeat the time out process I just mentioned. It may take 5-6 repetitions (or more) before he starts to catch on to what the word, “no” means. When he finally gets it and stops barking make sure you tell him he is doing the correct thing.

Doing what I mentioned above will help to break the old habit and start a new habit. Once again it is very important to make sure all the dog’s needs are met before jumping into punishment. Stay very consistent with this and be patient. You should start to see some results.

Side note: I DO NOT recommend using aversives like water bottles, a container of pennies, or a shock collar etc. to stop this. You will most likely only see results when said devices are present. Take them away and the barking will come back. There are also negative side effects involved when you use pain or fear to stop an unwanted behavior.

Thank you for the question!
Kevin Duggan CPDT-KA

Kevin is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT.org)  and is a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator through the American Kennel Club. He currently resides in Ohio with his dog, V, a six-year-old Shepherd/Lab mix, where he operates , specializing in helping build positive relationships between humans and their canine companions using clear communication, not pain and fear. For more training tips and tricks, and to meet his amazing dog, V,  follow him on Facebook by .

Keeping Your Dog’s Hips, Elbows, and Knees (And Other Joints) Healthy

Joint issues are a very common problem in most aging dogs. Just like in humans, deterioration of a lifetime of use can eventually put strain and injure the joints which can then develop into arthritis. When cartilage starts to degrade because of tension or trauma, pain ensues and this can make pooches reluctant to move. Although all dogs are at risk of joint problems, larger dogs are more predisposed to developing this health issue due to the extra weight that puts more stress and pressure on their hips, elbows, knees and other joints.

What You Should Do

You cannot just reverse canine joint disease; however, you can slow its progression and even prevent some of the most serious cases joint issues. Here’s how:

1. Think of ways that you can prevent joint injury. Although people often think of painful joint diseases as being associated only with aging dogs, you should start contemplating your pooch’s joint health when he’s still a puppy and continue on using different strategies to keep the joints healthy all throughout his life. Keep in mind that prevention of joint diseases before they become problematic is a much better way to deal with the issue than trying to relieve the symptoms when it’s already there and the problem is diagnosed. Prevent joint injury by:

· Choosing the breed carefully to avoid hip dysplasia and other genetically determined joint health issues.

· Involving Fido in various dog sports while at the same time protecting him from rough play during his developmental period.

· Keeping him in in great shape to avoid weight gain and obesity.

· Strengthening joints and protecting cartilage tissues by making use of food additives, joint protective supplements, and veterinarian prescribed medications.

2. Consider making some environmental accommodations. Make it easy for your arthritic dog to move around without risking injury by providing pet ramps or pet stairs, putting down carpets and rugs, offering them their own footstool, and incorporating gentle exercises.

3. Feed your dog high quality, appropriate food. You don’t want your large breed pup to grow up too fast and then become too heavy for his still developing, immature joints or your adult furry friend to put on excessive weight if overfed, so try your best to only provide Fido the correct diet for his age and size. Too much weight or obesity will just add to the joint strain and make it rather painful to exercise. If he refuses to become more active, then he’ll gain even more weight. This is an unhealthy vicious cycle that you need to avoid.

4. Respond and treat joint injury immediately. It’s essential that any suspected joint trouble is treated promptly in order to reduce the risk of injury or prevent the joint problem from getting worse as your pooch ages. While special treatment and forced rest are the usual options, physical therapy and surgery can be alternatives especially for more serious joint issues.

Winterizing Your Dog’s Backyard

 

Winterizing Your Dog’s Backyard

Some dogs enjoy the open air so much that they don’t like staying indoors even during winter. However, even if your pooch is a chilly weather warrior, you still have to take on all the essential preventive measures to keep him out of harm’s way. By winterizing your yard, you provide your dog with a great place to play safely the wintertime.

How to Keep your Dog Safe & Avoid the Winter Woes

· Clear the lawn.

Winterizing Your Dog’s Backyard

Try raking up the leaves and other debris on the ground. Because these things can hold water on top, they turn into ice when the frosty winter months freeze up the dry land. This icy land will make your backyard slippery and dangerous.

· Secure the fence.

Winterizing Your Dog’s Backyard

Check your fence thoroughly for weak areas, and then find time to secure it before the winter starts. This way, you can make sure that the fence doesn’t tilt when snow begins to build up on it. You don’t want your to get loose because of tilt openings brought about by a poorly erected fence. In addition, because small ornamental fencing around your garden can get covered with snow, you have to be careful when allowing your pet play around outside. Your dog could graze his paws or even break a leg stepping on the snow-covered fence which he didn’t see.

· Check the eaves and gutters.

Winterizing Your Dog’s Backyard

To make sure that there are no leaks, inspect all of your gutters. Remember that the outflows from your roof can form into icicles during winter. The last thing you’d ever want to happen is for these icy spikes to fall on you or Fido, causing severe injury or even death. Before the ice forms into deadly tiny spears, see to it that your gutters have been repaired. During the frozen season, carefully knock any icicle down that starts to take shape.

· Supervise your pet.

Winterizing Your Dog’s Backyard

Never leave Fido outside for a very long time during the cold weather. Although he has a coat to keep him warm, understand that it can only protect him for a while. He still can feel the cold, and, all pets are at risk of frostbite and other cold temperature illnesses. Try keeping smaller dogs indoors as much as you can as this is necessary for their health. Large dogs can usually tolerate the cold for longer periods – many even enjoy it. Still they should have access to the indoors or, at a bare minimum, a proper dog house suitable for their size, with access to fresh water, and adequate insulation should they spend a significant length of time outside.

· Build a small shed.

Winterizing Your Dog’s Backyard

Have a small shed or storage area where you can safely keep away all the fertilizers and other household materials that could be poisonous to your dog. Lock this area all the time and ensure that no snow or icicles build up on its roof. Never let any of these toxic items out in the open as your pooch can dig and eat them.

 

Running Safely with Your Dog


Going for a run with your dog can be a great way to bond and get some exercise in daily. However, there are some precautionary measures you should take to ensure that your pup is doing so safely. Before having your pup join you on your morning run, make sure you’ve received approval from your veterinarian. Many factors such as your dog’s age, breed, and overall health can impact whether or not he or she are ideal for intense exercise.

For example, puppies aren’t the most ideal running partner as they haven’t had their growth plates fully developed and exercise of that nature may put them at risk of injury. However, even if your dog is fast and seems ideal for running, he or she may not be meant for distance running. Greyhounds are perfect for sprinting, but if you’re looking for a dog who can keep up mile after mile, you would fare better with a Siberian Husky or another sporting breed. Besides having the right breed and age, it’s key to make sure your dog is well-trained to conquer the trails with you and knows how to behave properly under any circumstances.

Most importantly pay attention to how comfortable your dog is during the run. Each individual dog will differ from the next in terms of speed and endurance. Enjoy this unique bonding experience, but don’t forget that safety should always be your first priority.

Have a question for Dr. Klein? Email him at CVO@akc.org.

So, You Think You Want a Puppy

Having a puppy can be a lot of fun. I wish I could just leave it at that but unfortunately there are a lot more things I’d like to point out about having a puppy. Some of these things may make you second guess whether or not you want one. My goal isn’t to talk you out of it; it is just to inform you of what it is really going to be like.

The main thing I want to do is point out how much of a time commitment a puppy really is on a daily basis.

Socialization:

Socialization is EXTREMELY important. To sum this up you need to get your pup out to meet lots of different people and dogs that results in a positive experiences. I cannot stress enough that these experiences are always positive. When doing this it is perfectly okay to keep some distance and just reward your pup every time it looks at the foreign thing. (Person, dog, garbage truck etc.) *(Make sure your pup is up to date on all vaccinations.) Also, when doing this it is important to start off in areas that will not be too overwhelming. For example you wouldn’t want to take your young pup to the county fare. You have until age 16 weeks to get most of this done, though it is never over. Socialization is something that needs to happen over the pup’s entire life.

Time dedicated to this everyday = .5-1 hour.

Physical Exercise:

It is no secret that puppies need exercise. How much is dependent upon their age, breed, and temperament. In the very beginning most puppies sleep a good portion of the day. That is when it is the easiest. Don’t be fooled though, it gets harder. As your pup gets older its need for physical exercise will be more and more. Physical exercise consists of doing things like going for a walk, a hike, playing fetch, or a game of tug. Be aware that you can actually over-do physical exercise. If you do indeed over-do the physical exercise you could be building your pup’s stamina resulting in a need for more physical exercise.

Time dedicated to this everyday = 1-2 hours.

Mental exercise:

Mental exercise is something that a lot of people forget to do, or do not do enough of. Forms of mental exercise consist of teaching tricks, basic obedience, and playing with interactive toys. I recommend doing multiple training sessions a day for this. 2-3, 10-minute sessions a day will not only make your puppy better behaved, but will also tire him out. They say that 10 minutes of mental exercise is equivalent to roughly 30 minutes of physical exercise. This is when I recommend teaching your pup how to sit, lie down, stay, loose leash walk etc. The more mental exercise the merrier. The more you work your pup’s brain, the more tired it will get.

Time dedicated to this everyday = 20-30 minutes.

Supervision:

This is one of the most important things when it comes to puppies. They say something along the lines of silence is golden, except when you have a puppy. This is because if a puppy is being silent there is a good chance it is up to no good. There are ways to limit the amount of time you need to spend supervising your pup like using a crate or playpen. While it is okay to use them from time to time, I don’t recommend using them as a full time babysitter. This is because the interactions that your puppy has with people are very important. The best part about supervising your pup is it allows you to teach what is correct and what is incorrect. I recommend focusing on teaching your pup what is correct. If it is doing something incorrect, show it what the correct thing is and reinforce the behavior, which will make it likely that your puppy will choose that next time instead of doing the incorrect thing.

Time dedicated to this daily = 3-4 hours.

Potty/House Training:

This is something that takes dedication. Some puppies figure it out quicker than others and that is usually because of the consistency on the owners’ part. This falls under “supervision” as well. In the beginning you may be letting your puppy out every 30-45 minutes. If everything is going to plan you will start increase the amount of time in between each bathroom break. But this adds up. If you are letting your pup out every 30 minutes for 16 hours a day that equals 32 times which will be roughly 5 minutes per time.  I’ve chosen not to add the 8 hours of sleep time, but most young pups will not make it through the entire night. This means you will not get to sleep through the entire night for a couple weeks.

Time dedicated to this daily = 2 hour and 40 minutes.

Training:

I’ve already mentioned training a little bit in the “mental exercise” portion of this but I want to talk about it a little bit more. You are never done training your puppy. This is a lifelong adventure. If your puppy’s skills aren’t increasing they are decreasing. Doing multiple 10-minute sessions per day is a good start, but ultimately every interaction you have with your puppy is an opportunity to teach.

In closing:

Did you calculate what my estimations add up to? It added up to between 7 hours and 30 minutes – 10 hours and 10 minutes everyday dedicated toward raising your puppy.  If this sounds like something you have time for then go for it, you will have lots of fun. Some of the things I mentioned can be put together. For instance, socialization can be paired with training etc. But overall I wanted to give a general idea of how much time it actually takes to raise a puppy. The good news is that as long as you stay consistent with everything I mentioned above, it will get easier. The bathroom breaks will spread out and eventually won’t have to happen as frequently. You will not have to worry about constant supervision. You also won’t have to put as much time into socialization. Also, if you have multiple people in your household this will help balance everything out. I hope this didn’t deter you from getting that puppy, but I hope it helps you have a better understanding of what you’re in for.

Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?

Question from one of our readers:

My dog will not stop eating his own poop!! I tried giving him pineapple, some meat tenderizer as per vets instructions, forbid…nothing is working. He has the best food on the market, multivitamins and even gets yogurt every day and still no luck. If he goes out in the yard in the morning, he will just poop and eat it right away without us even knowing until his breath smells! Any ideas?

Hi,

This is a great question and one that many other readers would be interested in hearing about!

When your dog eats its own or another animal’s feces (cat feces are irresistible to all dogs), it is a difficult and disgusting problem to deal with. I feel your pain as my own german shepherd, Jake, used to do the same thing. The scientific name for this behavior is coprophagia and despite what you may have read on the internet, it is natural behavior for dogs.

Dogs instinctively do it when nursing puppies and cleaning their “den” and is not typically a sign of poor nutrition or a nutritional deficiency. It really needs to be addressed as a behavioral problem, just as jumping up or going to the bathroom in the house are often seen as undesirable behaviors that can be worked on through training.

Dietary modifications have only been shown to help in approximately 2% of cases. This includes changes in dog food as well as manipulations such as feeding pineapple, meat tenderizer, yucca as well as the products that are sold in stores for coprophagia.

Keep in mind that things like meat tenderizer and supplements are thought to work by making the stools taste bad. Really?! Shouldn’t it taste bad enough? Some dogs just like it!

Training

The best way to handle this is to offer him no opportunity to eat his or anyone else’s bowel movement.

Take him out on a leash and keep him away from the bowel movement after he has gone. If he tries to go for it, say “leave it” and pull him away. Over time, you should teach him this command, to help you in other situations where he may pick up something he shouldn’t eat.

Next, remove your precious puppy from the area and clean up the feces as soon as possible.

Consider designating an area in the yard for bowel movements to make it easier for you to know where he defecated, making clean-up easier.

There unfortunately is no magic answer to this problem. It is a natural instinct and some dogs continue to eat their stools their whole lives. Please remember it isn’t typically related to the diet you are feeding or anything that you are doing wrong, it’s just a natural behavior that is more persistent in some dogs compared to others.

Work on these training ideas and if you continue to have trouble, consider an appointment with a veterinarian that is an animal behavior specialist. Kisses from your furry best friend are not as much fun when you know they’ve been eating poop.

Best Regards,
Christopher Smith VMD