An abrupt change of subject

I was on the phone with a friend the other day when she asked how everything was going with Coco. This is the same friend who waxes my eyebrows, and I think I’d been in her house the previous week moaning about being up all night because Coco would not stop making a noise that sounded like she was throwing up. But was she throwing up? She was not, and in fact she was just fascinated that she could produce such a noise. This may be the first time you’ve ever heard this, and I want you to listen to me because I don’t think you’re going to find literature on this anywhere, but all dogs come with a personality defect that I like to call BEING A TOTAL SHIT, and it compels them to do something at least once a day that pushes you until you have mumbled an obscenity under your breath. And not just any obscenity. Dammit or hell will not do, no. You will not get away with a GRRRR! You have to utter something so nasty that the syllables of the word scar your gums as they leave your mouth. Only then will your dog commence being cute.

Things with Coco are fine, I suppose. She sleeps through the night and has total control over her bladder. She’s a good dog in many ways, and we see the potential in her to be a great dog. But she’s still a bit of bad dog in many ways — will not stay on command, will not stop barking at everything on a walk, refuses to fix Mama a hot dog — and I would be able to overlook these things if she would just stop eating poop. I CANNOT GET OVER THIS. Because it’s not just her own poop, it’s Chuck’s poop, it’s the poop from other dogs she finds on walks, it’s deer poop left on the trail when we hike. Yes, yes, I know all the things you’re supposed to do to get her to stop doing this, like feeding her more nutritious food and adding something to her food that makes her poop less appealing, Internet, we have tried it all. IT ISN’T WORKING. My dog enjoys eating poop that has been made less appealing than normal poop.

Where do you go from here? Is there something we can sprinkle on her food that makes her poop less appealing than poop that has already been made less appealing? What could possibly be less appealing than already less appealing poop?

This is me muttering an obscenity under my breath.

I think my love for Coco is being hindered by this one character flaw. Yes, I love her, but the fullness of my love cannot be realized until I can snuggle with her without the knowledge that my face is being licked by a tongue that has just helped digest poop that is less appealing than normal poop. And it was during this phone call with my friend that I remembered dating a guy in Los Angeles who was very refined and had a great sense of humor, and we got along in every way except for the fact that he talked like a muppet during sex. I dreaded having intercourse with him because in the middle of it all he’d put his mouth in my ear and start talking like he’d just taken a hit of helium. And I was supposed to lie there and not laugh? Not grimace? Not go, dude, that is just WEIRD. Because I totally felt like I was screwing Elmo.

Dreading having sex with your boyfriend is a bit of a deal breaker.

Did this metaphor make the acid in your stomach churn? Yeah, sorry about that, but this is how I feel about my shit-eating dog. She has to stop, otherwise our relationship with be marred by the dread I feel when she runs up to give me kisses. And the only dread I should feel when she’s headed toward me is the usual, god, I hope that dog hasn’t been drinking from the toilet again.

Yes, somehow toilet drinking is less repulsive. I call this SELECTIVE DENIAL.

  • traci

    It’s not a puppy thing…at least not for my dog. My border collie/golden retriever mix is going on 6 years old and she eats poop. On a daily basis. Sometimes just after our other dog has pooped (maybe it’s better warm? Oh god..that’s horribly disgusting. sorry).

    Our vet says not to can’t harm her. Yeah, that’s not very comforting I know.

    To prevent the poop eating…my husband does clean up the yard daily. But somehow the dumb dog still finds a pile here and there…


  • Independent Mom

    Oh.My.Gawd thank you for the instant chuckle. I wish I had some advice for you. I worked for a vet and we would suggest all the things you say you’ve already tried =/

  • bettyc

    I will also suggest canned pineapple, like many others have. It did not work that well on our dog, but it may have helped a bit. But there’s hope, our dog still likes poop, but not nearly as much as he used to. He’s now 2 1/2. I guess that’s not that real encouraging, since it means you have 2 more years of poop-eating to tolerate!

  • ORKMommy

    How old is Coco? My puppy ate poop all the time until one day last month he just stopped. He’s now 10 months old. I had been told that “he’ll grow out of it” by the vet and what do you know…he did!

    Now, if I could just get him completely potty trained! I swear he goes outside and saves a little bit for the kitchen floor! How do I get him to stop that?

  • Chiquita

    DUDE. If I change my dog’s food in the slightest fashion, she has diarrhea. It is a force of nature to be reckoned with. And when she does, if she’s in the same crate with it (say, it happens while I’m at work), she eats it. You know. To get rid of it. Only then she vomits it out, has more diarrhea, lather, rinse, repeat.

  • Stacey

    Eek, my first comment! I’ve officially popped my Dooce comment cherry!

    Anyway. I’ve heard feeding your dog pineapple or lacing their food with meat tenderizer will stop them, I don’t know if either work, though my dogs think pineapple is on par with steak, so it’s worth a try. You can also try sprinkling already-in-the-yard poop with chili powder or ground up dried jalapenos, or any hot pepper, though, once it rains, it has to be re-done.

    Your best bet is teaching her a leave-it command, because you obviously can’t find EVERY potential poop in the future. Most dogs dislike strong mints or strong cinnamon, like Altoids or red-hots (this will also be good training should you ever drop pills since they look like them), start by dropping one or two on the floor and telling her in a FIRM voice, LEAVE IT, then see if she does. If she doesn’t leave it, she’ll get a surprise that she hopefully doesn’t like (though, mine loved the red-hots, because she’s a moron, so we had to do it without anything and a LOT more patience). Practice for awhile, until you can build up to “leave it” with a not-so-favorite treat, (if such a thing exists) and eventually something she REALLYREALLYREALLY likes. Not only will this help with your aversion to poop-eating, but it can also be a safety thing in the future, should you ever drop something she REALLY shouldn’t have, like a pill, or a Dorito you plan to apply the 5 second rule to.

    In my case, it helped because I have 3 dogs, and I don’t let them eat each other’s food, and the one that eats the fastest HAD to learn “leave it” so the one that eats the slowest would stand a chance at dinner. Once she gets this command, it’s particularly fun to use for evil just to watch them squirm for a minute. ;)

    Hope it helps!!


  • heymickie

    Hey, can I borrow a couple of ya’ll’s dogs? I am sick to death of cleaning the pen!

  • projectmommy

    We just got a puppy two weeks ago and I totally know what you mean about not being able to love them at full potential because of this one personality flaw. Mine is our dog pees a little everytime he sits down, stands up, gets excited, gets scared, etc. I CAN’T STAND IT!

  • velveeta

    Sigh. My dog loves eating shit. She used to go to work with me and share my couch and get lots of love and affection. We tried everything to get her to stop; pleading, intervention with family and friends, dietary measures, screaming, crying, lectures with visual aids, we even took her to the doggy morgue so she could see the ultimate cost of shit-eating. Nothing worked. Now she lives outside and eats all the shit she wants. I gave her the choice between shit or our family and she chose shit. They always choose shit.

  • Aimee

    Both my dogs are turd burglars. It’s so gross when they come in for snuggling and they burp…
    if you find a magical cure do share!

  • kim

    it sounds like you’re describing my dog…and i don’t know it this is any solace, but she has finally broken herself of the eating other dogs shit habit. you obviously know how to train a dog well, like ppl some just learn at different rates than others. we live in a new subdivision still under construction and my dog sits at the window and barks at every contractor, construction worker and neighbour who has the misfortune or passing our house. that obscenity your were talking about…every day.

  • Niki

    You totally have to get on The Dog Whisperer. I bet Cesar Milan could fix Coco right up. Plus some good cross-publicity maybe?


    I don’t know which was worse, the poop eating or the Elmo guy. I’m feeling a little sick to my stomach now.

  • Lisame

    When Josey was a pup, everytime he ate poop (that I witnessed) I immediately brushed his teeth. Which pissed him off! He’s 15 this Friday and hasn’t eaten poop since he was one.

  • Big Momma Pimpalishisness

    Haha, I just peed myself a little.

  • Becs

    My grandparents have a dog that does this too, except she seemed to like one of their other dog’s poop in particular. They tried giving this dog pills that would make her poop taste bad but that didn’t do anything.

    Try talking to your vet. They may have some suggestions. In the meantime, buy a doggie toothbrush and toothpaste and brush Coco’s teeth every night. That way you won’t have to worry too much about her poopy mouth.

    And don’t feel bad. Whenever my grandparent’s dog ate poop, I wouldn’t even go near her the rest of the day. It is pretty natural to be disgusted when you see your dog inhale turds from who knows what like its a big pile of biscuits. But if Cesar Milan get fix dogs that are aggressive and want to kill other dogs, I am sure there is a way to fix the poop eating.

  • Lisa

    I don’t have a dog… no advice… but that Muppet Sex shit was hysterical. The worst I have is the guy who played me Sheriff’s “When I’m With You” – WELL after the song was popular… LONG after we were out of high school… Pleck. I still can’t listen to that song without feeling like I just got kisses from a dog who’s been consuming doo all day…

  • Peggy

    I never could stand it when a dog wanted to lick my face. Now I have a good reason ready when the owner say…She just wants to give you kissies. BLEECH!

  • BJ

    I haven’t read all of the comments, but I’m feeling a little weak in the tummy this morning. I skipped over “poop”, not really, but I didn’t want to see the word so much and how it was being referred too. But through all of that, I got the jest of the problem!

    I also had a dog who loved to eat “poop”. But he would eat our cat’s poop! He also would eat the cat’s food any chance he got. After speaking to the vet he just said that dog’s shouldn’t eat cat’s food or poop, but cat’s can eat dog food. Mind you… cat NEVER ate my dog’s poop!

    So, I don’t have any suggestions for you……but it is baffling….why? Why does Coco do this? Or any dog for that matter. I’d love to know myself.

  • FabMax

    Dogs need some substances that can be found in digestive tracts of prey animals. That’s why wolves eat the intestines of prey complete with contents.

    There is no “cure” to poop eating. You can stop it, though. Per food stores should sell cow paunches (or is it called rumen?), filled (green) or unfilled.

    If you give Coco this stuff once per week, she’ll probably stop eating poop. It smells awful, but dogs love it almost as well as cats love catnip.

    Not that they will roll around in it. I hope.

  • Melissa’s Cozy Teacup

    Maybe she is just more fashionable than you think. There are some who enjoy drinking coffee made from a bean that’s been crapped out the butt of a cat monkey thing.
    Dogs are gross sometimes. What can you do? Yeah, that’s my way philosophical advise. What can you do?

  • thepixie

    It will get better – having a puppy always brings something like this. And she is such a good dog in other ways, as soon as she gets a bit older, she’ll probably calm down just enough to really start to listen to you. Just think, at least she’s just eating it and not prone to rolling around in it, that would be much worse!

  • anne

    Our dog is 8 and still eats poo. Sorry. We are told there is nothing we can do – that is has nothing to do with her diet and that none of those “tricks” do anything. Especially since she eats other dogs poo – so its not like we can sprinkle hot sauce on poo we see in our neighbor’s yard. I mean how wierd would we look????

    **Also please ignore the suggestion to feed the dog pumpkin – that is NOT going to help AT ALL. Pumpkin is what you give dogs who are “stopped up” – so it will likely give you a bigger problem!***

  • Tina

    I know this is a crazy thought but, have you thought of picking up the poop when they go. This, of course, means you can’t just let them out the door. Walk them and pick up after them. That should cut out the availability. You should also look into enzyme replacements. My dog ate rabbit poop like popcorn shrimp until we put her on the supplements. Turns out she was eating the poop because her body was craving the missing enzymes. We went to a naturalist/holistic vet who figured it out.

  • Fern

    What can I add!

    Except to say that I don’t buy the “needs nutrition” bit. My 13-year-old greyhound has spent 13 years eating his own poop and especially LOVES goose poop. What nutritional value does goose poop have — eColi?

    One word of advice: Wipe her mouth with a wet paper towel and brush her teeth! : )

  • Anonymous

    My dog ate shit and drank out of the toliet. In fact, he ate alot of shit. He also refused to drink out of a regular water bowl. Only toliet water for him. You can do a couple of things, there is something you can buy at the vet to sprinkle on his food or you can run out behind her when she craps and sprinkle some red hot chili pepper on her shit. She won’t eat it again.

  • Ashley

    The only thing better than when your dog eats poop is when it eats poop and then throws it up in your bed.

  • Teresa

    We used to have a beagle that would play with his poop before eating it. He would throw it up in the air and paw at it and then eat it. It was hysterical to watch but disgusting all at the same time. Now we have an australian sheperd and she doesn’t do that, thank God.

  • Sheri

    My dog, also named Coco, likes to eat poop. We’ve stopped calling it poop and now call it “snacks”. It makes it more appealing that way.

  • Ellynn

    I never had a shit-eating dog, thankfully. My dogs weirdness commenced with staring into a specific heat vent for hours at a time. We took the vent cover off and examined the vent a zillion times for what on earth entranced our dog so, but no dice.
    I did have a boyfriend that made farm animal sounds during sex one time, though. I think I’d have preferred a muppet.

  • Laura

    Eating poop. Yes, every puppy owner has been through that phase. As long as Coco’s diet is nutritionally complete AND she doesn’t have worms, it will pass. Trust me. I had two puppies at once that thought poop was more delicious than life itself. Teaching her a nice “leave it” command will help.

  • delia

    One of our dogs is a shit eater. Will yank your arm out of the socket while on a walk just to get at a piece of poo. Sometimes she doesn’t get enough of an extension on the leash and ends up smearing it on her cheek while attempting to get it in her mouth.

    We have poor plumbing at this house, the toilets clog like crazy. On several occasions my 6 year old will poop, clog the toilet and not know it and walk away after flushing. Our second dog will go face first into the clogged toilet slurping down every piece of poo stained toilet paper, every piece of poo and every last ounce of poo and pee tainted water in the bowl.

  • workroom

    heheh…well,with your husband busy grilling penis (and then posting pics), it sorta makes sense your dog would eat poop…

    oh and here are some great new obscenities to mutter…
    like, in Vietnamese:
    “May an long dai cham mui” (You eat pubic hair with salt-dip)

  • TED

    You couldn’t just say, “Dude, stop talking like a muppet”? I can see how it would be an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s not as uncomfortable as some of the conversations I’ve had to have.”

  • Madame Queen

    Well, don’t even THINK about what dead creatures she might have been mouthing, like my PITA dog.

    A friend of mine once had a “Map of a Dog’s Brain” on her refrigerator and there were tiny sections titled “walks” and “fetch” but the absolute largest section was called “Love of the Putrid.” It’s just a dog thing, I think. I’m not sure there’s anything you can do.

  • WonderSpot

    I’m so glad that mine isn’t the only puppy that freaks the fuck out over a stray blade of grass, or gets so excited to see people on our walks that she lunges at the very old Chinese lady (who then mutters what I’m SURE are jinxes at me under her breath). Tonks does not eat poop, but she eats snails, which makes her breath just about as appetizing. Telling her “no” or “drop it” only makes her do it more, cause she sucks like that.

  • Sara

    I don’t have any brilliant pearls of wisdom for you on the getting this to stop front. But maybe what I’m about to tell you will make you feel better about it? Our 3 y/o Dachshund, God love her, about an hour ago, jumped into my lap to cuddle. I thought my 18 m/o daughter’s diaper was in serious need of changing, but no, it was the idiot wiener. She had decided, for the first time EVER, to get into the baby’s diaper pail. So I had to scrub the shit (literally) out of my arms, hands, and cheek (b/c the wiener gave me a peck upon jumping into my lap).
    When said wiener was a few months old, I came home after work to find she had pooped in her crate, and eaten it. I could deal with that. Clean up the remaining poop remnants from the crate, right? No kisses for a couple of days, right? No biggie. HA! While I was bleaching out her crate, she jumped up on the couch and puked. PUKED POOP PUKE. I’m not sure I have ever recovered from that. I hold it over my husband’s head all the time. “Honey, can you change the baby’s diaper, I cleaned up your dog’s poop puke 3 yrs ago.” I call this leverage.
    So yeah, the wiener no longer eats her own poop, and has only eaten dirty diaper once (I just threw up a little…), so I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for you that this is a passing phase for dear Coco. Ugh…puppies.

  • Glen

    Here’s a basic training technique that should help, at least on the walks, to get Coco to leave the poop alone (and anything else you don’t want her getting into during the walk). Worked wonders for ours (who also happens to look a little bit like Chuck).

  • Pretty Lush

    That deep nod that I did at the end of this post, where I silently agreed that toilet water is significantly less repulsive that poop dinners makes me wonder about our sanitary standards… Did they lower when we had children? What is going on here?

  • Forkboy

    One of our two dogs loves to eat the cats poop right from the litter boxes. We call these litter-covered turds “Crunchy Snax”!

    I’ve been wondering if I should collect them, box them and sell them as doggie treats.

  • Kate

    Much like you, we had an older dog, Walter, that’s just amazing, and then we got a younger dog (Mervyn) who has been a bit of a trial. And this younger dog did the crying and whining and the in-house crapping and then we got over that and it’s all fine, but his one behavior that we can’t break is that he LOVES to drink urine. We have stopped sending the dogs out into the yard together because Mervyn will actually lap at the urine coming out of Walter’s penis. And that’s disgusting. And the only thing I’ve read online is hey, maybe the dog isn’t getting enough water, so he’s supplementing with urine. But we give him SO MUCH WATER. And then he drinks it. TWICE.

  • Rob

    I am terrified that my parents new puppy will be a shit eater. He’s mostly an apartment dog, and he never eats off of his pads – in fact he’s incredibly finicky and won’t deign to go near them once they’ve been soiled – but when he does get to go outside, he loves to root around in the grass and pick up random junk. So far he hasn’t swallowed anything suspect, but I’m weary of the day he discovers a fresh turd. If that happens, I’ll have to ban puppy smooches forever.

  • Emily C.

    Ugh. For some reason, I started smelling poop while I was reading this email. I’m sure it’s just mental, but now I’m totally disturbed…

  • furpants

    Go Heather! Breaking new ground for internet discussion since 2001!

    My dog is so picky that she will not eat her dog food unless I pour vegetable stock over it and warm it in the microwave. She also won’t eat any doggie treats — not tasty enough for Miss Picky Eater. And yet, let her find an unscooped poo nugget in the yard and its Chow Time!

  • Chirky

    I mean, not that I want to encourage animal cruelty or anything, but is there some sort of unharmful something you can sprinkle on her poop (and other animals’ poop you come across while walking with Coco) that will cause her to vomit? So everytime she eats poop, she vomits?

    Then maybe she would associate the unpleasantries of vomit with poop. And then stop eating it.

  • Tricia

    Keep a can of cayenne pepper with you always, walks, backyard, anywhere you take her, sprinkle it on anything you don’t want her to eat…she will learn…and it won’t be a pretty sight at first, and may turn out to be a picture momment!

  • ME

    You need to get Caesar Milan over for a consultation. I can totally see you on his show.

    As kids we would sprinkle cayenne pepper powder in other kids sandwiches when they weren’t looking. Cruel I know. Might work for Coco though!

  • Jaime

    I completely understand!! When I was at a puppy store once, I fell in love with this cute cute soft snuggle wuggle….until he turned around, showed us his butt, and proceeded to poop. That wasn’t enough though…he started sniffing and eating his own poo and I could no longer see that puppy in the same way.

    Some people even let their dogs lick in and on and around their mouths! Now maybe they will think twice. Puppies just like poop!

  • jody

    Honey eats poop when given the chance. It seems to come in cycles as she will go forever without doing it, then will go on a poop binge.

    My kids sing the song Copacabana and replace the words with Coprophagia and other words. It is hilarious, until Honey jumps in your lap and opens her mouth in her “Hiiiii, so haaaaaappy to seeee you” pant.

    We have tried pills, and a powder from the vet, but have found no long term remedy for this except making sure there is no poop to be found in the yard. We go on poop patrol and it has certainly made life less gross for us.

  • Camellia

    The hot stuff in the garbage…didn’t work. My dog makes herself sick on catpoop. Doesn’t stop her. we do lock her off from the kitty poop room.Late in her life she developed a yen for her own poop. Just her own, though. The vet said it was a bad habit. Like, yeah. And we feed her the most nutritious dog food around. I PICK IT THE POOP. I love her, though, and she’s not a kissy dog. Living with it. Sorry. Don’t French kiss.