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scavanging and poo eating


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I have resorted to keeping my dog on lead due to poo eating and scavanging. The poo eating started this year and am hoping by not allowing it (difficult ) that it will just be a phase.He is coming up 2years. What else can l do? He has always picked up stuff on the street, especially plastic but will usually drop for a treat. This seems to be slowly improving. Just feel so mean for not letting him run.
Have there been any changes in his diet recently? What do you feed him, and are his poos good - not too sloppy or hard?

Does he understand 'leave'? As he's on lead, I'd walk him closeish to dog poo, say 'leave' and reward him when he turns his attention away from the poo and on to you. This video should help with 'leave' training:

My dog grew out of eating dog poo at around the time I switched him from kibble to a raw diet. This might have been coincidence... or he might no longer have felt the need to supplement his diet...
Thanks for your reply.
He has been on core Harringtons dry kibble. His poos have been variable. His tummy upsets have been from scavanging. He has had antibiotics but has probiotics with them. The poo eating has been recent and was the cause l think of his last upset .
I had wondered whether l was just not feeding him enough although the vet never seemed concerned that he was losing weight. I now feed him about 20% more and he maintains his weight.He is smaller than the average cocker and lean. At 10.80kg.
The vet suggested hypoallergenic and l have begun trying the grain free hypoallergenic harringtons version. I'm not convinced he needs it. He seemed to be pooing larger amounts.
I am just a bit fed up with having to give a bland diet every couple of months as it takes a long time to get back to normal food.
Thanks for the idea. That is what I'm trying.
He ignores some and now is eating his less.
It isn't helped by the neighbours cats and foxes.
I guess l just need some 'hope'!
It is worth trying with raw if you'd like to, as I know any amount of dogs that stopped poo eating once fed this way. It's partly to do with the "meaty smell" of kibble, which is actually a formula which is added to the food last, just before it is packaged. This smell survives the digestive process and makes the poo smell more like mealtimes. Of course there are other reasons for poo eating too, but this is the most usual one. It may mean that initially he is still attracted to other dogs' poo if they are kibble fed, but if he is raw fed then his digestive needs are being met and so his interest should fade over time.

You don't have to feed large slabs of animal - modern raw comes neatly packaged in small blocks that are easy to feed and store.
If you're interested in feeding raw, just ask - we can give you lots of info.

There's been threads on poo-eating dogs in the past, but I'm blowed if I can find any. All the related terms are either too short or too common...
Someone I know swears by a spoonful of live natural yoghurt added to their dog's food every day.

It can't do any harm.
Out of all my dogs I have 5 that have a taste for dog poo, though one is more partial to her own!:eek: Apart from one who is on a raw diet (he's a lab!) all the others are on kibble. It's interesting what @Hemlock said about the 'meaty smell' of kibble that seems to survive the digesting process, as it seems to be more common that dogs want to eat the poop now than it ever was, with many dogs on a kibble diet. Equally it maybe just my lot and I have a slanted view! But they all seem to hunt it out, almost obsessively, like it's the best treat ever!! Two of my dogs I keep on lead to limit it, one wears a basket muzzle as he's been poorly from the poo and the other two I do a mix of on lead in high poop areas and off lead I limit their interest in the poo hunt by throwing tiny bits of treats as we walk to get them hunting for that instead, which kind of works!
Personally I feel looking into a raw diet is worth a shot. Good luck!
In my experience, a basket muzzle doesn't prevent poo eating - you just end up with a disgusting filthy muzzle which you have to rinse off in the next deep puddle. Mind you, Jasper could even nick tennis balls with his muzzle on...
I walk him on lead with the muzzle so it helps, his owners let him off with muzzle and yes it does get messy sometimes they said but he does ingest way less!! Damage limitation I suppose...
MMM. .several people have suggested a raw diet but I am kind of reluctant. He doesn't even get raw bones. Saying that.. he has had a number of bones from people's discarded barbecues and picnics when younger. This I think helped develop his scavanging. Barbecues are now banned in this area as the littering was horrendous.
He is the type to get things stuck. He has pieces of stick stuck in is mouth twice , and a grass seed in his ear so far! He is only just becoming less afraid of the vet.
He nicked a friend's dog's chicken foot and thoroughly enjoyed. However, it did give him the runs.
It was suggested that I feed him three times a day to keep his energy up. This may be helping although it makes it tricky with timing walks. I have been quite strict on leaving time after eating .
As he is young I have used a variety of treats on walks..trying to find healthy ones. He will eat any but even a sprat won't persuade him to drop food. what do others recommend?
Raw bones and meat are safe - dogs' digestions are designed to cope with them, and when you think about it, foxes, wolves and most other predators have evolved to eat bones without an issue. My dog once got a stick stuck in his mouth, but had chicken carcasses every day and never had a problem. But you could give ready-made raw mince that contains ground bone, so they get all the nutrients.

There are several people on the forum who have fed raw to multiple dogs over decades, and have never had a problem. Having said that, I would never accept something as true just because someone on the internet says so, so you need to do your own research and come to your own conclusions. We have a lot more info on raw feeding here: Raw feeding and are happy to answer any questions.
I will think about it. He does like his kibble but any change has to be very slow.
First thing to take on board is that eating faeces, although monumentally revolting to us, is completely normal. Street dogs regularly eat poo, as do wild canids. Not particularly nutritious, but harmless.

I agree a raw diet could be a game changer for him, and also feeding him more often. Sometimes a habit forms even when the original motivation for it has gone, though, so it can take a while, even with a change of diet. Feeding raw is easy if you use a commercial brand - Natural Instinct is good, I find.
Some dogs just worry more about resources, especially food, so it might also be worth looking more holistically at his day to day life. Does he have a choice of places to sleep? Is he anxious when left alone? do you use food as a distraction (eg stuffed kongs) when you want him not to disturb you, or not to jump up at visitors?
It might sound odd, but I have found that the whole 'conversation' you have with a dog around food and lifestyle has a big influence on behaviour, especially behaviour around something that is very important to the dog. I would be focusing on what choices he has in life, and whether he is mature enough to make sensible decisions, without being told what to do (or not do).

It's lovely that you are thinking about what's best for him, and I would only add that I would never, ever worry about a dog who is walked on a lead all the time. A much bigger factor is the environment where you walk, and whether he feels curious, relaxed and able to enjoy and take in all the smells and sights. A long line (5 or 8 meters) might make that easier, though obviously you will need to catch up quickly if he spots some poo!
Good luck. A lot of dogs grow out of that habit as they become more confident and secure, I find, especially combined with a more interesting and better quality diet.
Thank you Feverfew for your reply, especially the reassurance about using a longline.
I am interested in the idea of my influence on his behaviour re food, although can't see how.
He is only left for a couple of hours a time restricted to his crate or pen. Usually with a few nibbles in a Kong. I am only just begining to leave him unsupervised and loose in the house if l go in the garden without him as up to now he has got up to mischief, (unless tired) or just follows me around. I have had to be quick to pick up after him to discourage poo eating or keep an eye on him in the garden ..(he gets up to mischief) so he is not often alone.
I have done training with treats and from advice re scavanging do let him play'find it' with kibble or other food. (Not 100% convinced that this is best, although he loves finding things). Fetch is his favourite game and if l accidentally lose the ball, finding it is awesome.
He is very intelligent which makes training both easy and difficult. He has obeyed ' leave it ', but then gone back to find whatever it was . He knows 'drop it' but this only applies in certain contexts!
He really does sound absolutely delightful, and that you have a good relationship with him.

A couple of things stand out for me: one is the searching for treats as a game, and (as you suggest), from his point of view, that's no different from scavenging, which, confusingly, you are discouraging. So that's one thing to look at, because you need to be consistently understanding of whether what you are asking for makes sense to him.

On 'getting up to mischief', the first thing to look at is whether you are managing the home environment well enough. So if for example you leave your shoes out and he chews them, he is training you to put your shoes away :)! Of course, young dogs do nibble and chew things, and that's normal - in fact, I have a few pieces of furniture and a plastic watering can that I am particularly fond if because they still bear the teeth marks of a dog who died 14 years ago. I like to remember her when I use them. I 'm not suggesting he has completely free rein over your Dior collection (or whatever), but putting important or hazardous items out of reach and being relaxed about the odd tooth mark is a good way to go, I think.

A couple of other points is that the following you around might suggest insecurity - or maybe he is overly focused on treats if you use them a lot. I am not a fan of giving treats and food rewards at all, in fact, because I meet so many dogs who are so focused on the food, they can't think straight (although they might superficially comply with a cue).
The relationship you build is with you - not food or balls, you. That's something to think about maybe on your walks and when you are together. I think having him find a ball or small toy is a lovely thing to do together, provided it's thoughtful for him and he isn't overly excited - it needs to be just difficult enough. A great book on that is The Kingdom of Scent by Lil van Kampf (I think that's the correct spelling) - thoughtful scent games that will build his confidence rather than just making him tired.

Think also about what his experience is like on walks and try to share it, in your head. In my opinion, that is a much deeper and more rewarding way to communicate with a dog, without the distraction of food. This way of being with a dog improves your own senses incidentally : I sometimes even 'scent' a fox before my little collie does, which I like to think impresses her!

Finally, after this very rambling post, there's one more thing, and that's if he sees you reacting to him finding poo with a lot of excitement by rushing over, using your voice, pushing him away etc, you may be giving him the message that poo is really, really valuable and you want it for yourself. This may make him quicker at eating it and more anxious about doing so, so if you are working around poo, make it no big deal if he does get to it.

Good luck! He sounds like a really fun companion - I love a bit of mischief myself.
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Personally, I would let him follow you around if he wants to. He might then stop worrying that he might not be able to keep close to you, and decide that it's not worth the bother when he's lying in a comfy sunny spot.
Thanks both of you.
I think l have overreacted in the past. I wish I'd known the power of ignoring the bad (actually walking out of the room was a game changer!)and praising the good earlier! I have definitely made mistakes despite taking him to classes which were based on positive rewards. I do think that actually my dog needs me to be more assertive as well as very clear on what l want. He is maturing and is much calmer.
I don't know about other breeds but cocker spaniels are sensitive souls.
We’re currently in Cornwall in a house with a huge lawn which seems to be a gathering place for rabbits. There’s no problem with the rabbits as they leg it as soon as the kitchen door is opened but Mabel had taken to eating their droppings. She will desist if checked but she will nibble these liquorice allsorts whenever the opportunity presents itself. My question (at which I’ve arrived eventually - hurrah) is with regard to how harmful is this consumption? Her motions have been very loose today to the extent that she passed pure liquid this afternoon. Apart from the rabbit poo she’s eaten nothing unusual and she seems fine in herself.
Our lot like to eat poo but not their own or other dog poos. They love some of our donkey poos but are selective which ones, and then all dive in for a share. Rabbit poo's are randomly eaten by some of them.
All of the wild poo's that are eaten are grass and wild herb based, nothing produced by a meat eating creature like a fox, (they just roll in that PHEW). The ruminant type poo and rabbit poo, I believe are quiet acceptable as a harmless pre-digested vegetable.
And, by the way they will eat human shit if some filthy bugger has gone behind a bush and covered it with a tissue. What is wrong with them using a poo bag for themselves and taking it home?:rolleyes: Hmm.

Oh by the way, when our daughter was a tiny tot, we had our guinea pigs freely running around our safely fenced garden. My husband one day caught her picking up and eating the liquorice allsorts that were to be found all around the garden.:eek:
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