A few years ago I was walking our dog Leo and he noticed something under a car. I investigated and saw a dog hiding underneath. She was very scared puppy not more than three months old. Later I brought out some food and water and she started to follow me home. Half way home she laid down on the ground and waited for me to carry her. We adopted her!
We gave her a bath, food and a deworming and started house training, and walks with our other dog Leo. She must have spent her life on the street because she tried to eat everything she could find like tissue papers and even poop (coprophagia). I did some research and found some suggestions to try to train her to stop. Here is what dog training worked:
- Shorter Leash
Using a short leash while walking keeps the head up and prevents scanning. This is when a dog walks with their nose down to smell and search for food. This worked while walking but when she stopped to poop she would then eat everything she could find.
- Vocal Commands
Use a short phrase and an assertive low voice whenever an attempt is made to eat poop. I used “Leave It” every time she came close to poop. Also a snap of the leash can help. This didn’t seem to work well so I tried the next trick combined with the vocal command.
Using a reward can teach that if the poop is left behind they will get a treat. I was using this for house training for every time she went outside. I gave her a treat when she did not eat the poop after the vocal command. This started to work but she would still eat some poop if I was not looking.
- Higher Nutrition
Street dogs have very poor nutrition and sometimes eat poop to try to get some missing nutrients. After some time we switched her off the puppy food and we were giving her a store brand which Leo liked to eat. Her coat was getting thin and dull so we switched her to a high quality salmon based food recommended to us at the pet store. After a few bags her coat thickened up and was very shiny. One day while walking her she started to sniff some poop but left it without any command.
Victory! Now she never eats any poop. A combination of the dog training and better nutrition seemed to work. She still likes some tissue paper once in a while but we can live with this!