Should I Muzzle a Dog That Eats Everything?

Should I Muzzle a Dog That Eats Everything?

Our dogs are so sweet and loving, we'd do nearly anything for them.  We buy them pretty collars, coats, call them affectionate names... and then they go and do something gross like eating poop in the yard.  Eww!  We here at Hound Safe can totally empathize with you.  Out of the four greyhounds we've had, one turned out to be a poop eater. 

So what can you do about that?  We'll offer suggestions, but first need to explain why they do that.  The scientific name for this behavior is coprophagia.  There are both behavioral and physiological reasons why many dogs do this.  Sometimes if the dog's diet is lacking in some specific nutrients, they may find those nutrients in the droppings of other dogs.  So one solution is to make sure you feed a healthy kibble or wet food.  We very much recommend Dog Food Advisor if you need help finding a better quality food.

Puppies are naturally drawn to eating poop, both their own and that of other animals.  Although it's natural, the behavior should be gently discouraged as it's a very common way to pick up worms and other diseases and parasites.

If you feed a good diet and your dog still does this, it's possible that the behavior is driven from a disease like Cushing's or thyroid issues, or from medications like steroids.  Check with your vet to see if this is likely to be the cause and to ask what you can do about it.

Also, the behavior can stem from environmental triggers like being kept in confined spaces, being kept isolated, or being fed where they eliminate.  They can also learn it as attention-seeking behavior.

So what can you do about it?  Here are our tips:

  • Be sure you feed a nutritious diet, give your dog adequate exercise for his breed and age, keep him adequately mentally stimulated and happy.
  • You can try vitamin supplements, enzyme supplements or taste-aversion products.
  • Keep his living space clean.  This includes removing his waste from the yard at least daily, or after every elimination if you have multiple dogs or if he's one of those that turns around to eat what he just dropped.  (double eww)
  • Train him on skills like "leave it" and "come".  Be sure to use reward-based training. 
  • You can utilize basket muzzles with stool guards to assist with training, or simply to prevent him from eating when exploring the yard.  A stool guard blocks the front of the muzzle to make it harder (although not impossible, so training is still warranted) for the dog to pick things up off the ground.  If your dog is a greyhound, poodle or Doberman Pinscher or has a similar long-nosed head shape and size, our Double-Padded Muzzle has an integrated stool guard and works very well for this purpose.  If your dog is a whippet or has a similar long-nosed head shape and size, we have a basket muzzle with an integrated stool guard.  

We hope these tips help! 



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