Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

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.

  • 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!

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • See, my dog probably eats all kinds of disgusting things. He eats toilet paper from the garbage can in the bathroom, which generally translates to SNOT from people’s sick noses. He also drinks from the toilet, and has the most rank breath ever. Not to mention genital licking and butt licking/sniffing and all that. But my dad puts up with it and lets the dog lick his face. WHY?

    He says, “Dogs’ mouths are cleaner than ours.” And I agree, yes, Dad, dogs have more enzymes to kill bacteria in their mouths than we do. But WE don’t go around FINDING bad bacteria to get all in our saliva like they do.

  • Katie

    I suggest you ignore anne’s suggestion since her dog has eaten poo for 8 years.

  • Courtney Sue

    I had a dog that ate her own poop once, and I’d never ever seen one do that before. My dad called her “that sh*t eating dog”, and I doubt he meant that as an endearment.

    I think the vet said that might be a sign she wasn’t getting enough nutrients in her food or something, which turned out to be the case because she ended up having pancreatic insufficiency, which means her pancreas didn’t create the enzymes that digest food. I doubt that is your dog’s problem, as she doesn’t look malnourished. I think she just likes poop.

  • Cindy

    Maybe it’s time to call the dog whisperer. If Cesar can’t fix it, no one can.

  • Anonymous

    My dog used to eat poop too. I would yell at her and she would stop but usually she had already gotten in a few bites so the damage was done. One day I was throwing a tennis ball for my other dog and just happened to have the ball in my hand when she went #2 and then turned around and started to dine. I was so disgusted that let the ball fly, meaning for it to land near her to make her jump away scared. Well, the ball took a nasty hop and beaned her right in the noggin. She yelped and ran away like the poop had ganged up on her. She never ate poop again! I am not an advocate of hitting animals but in this case the tough love helped and she had no clue I was the one who threw the ball!

  • Festi

    May have already tried this, but get a Super Soaker water gun, park yourself on the porch or in a chair in the backyard and spray her in the face every time she eats the poop. I’ve heard it works for digging – maybe it will work for crap eating. Supposedly they don’t entirely know it’s YOU doing the water squirting (b/c you can be fairly far away) and that’s supposed to make a difference —- so that they will be less likely to engage in the forbidden behavior even when you’re not there.

    If nothing else, it feels good to pelt the dog safely with a hard stream of water when they’re doing something you don’t like! 😉

  • Anonymous

    Meat tenderizer or powdered chili pepper. Or the liquid cinnamon that is really hot.

    Dogs can get internal parasites and bacterial infection from eating poo.

  • I didn’t know there were dogs that DIDN’T like eating poop.

    But that mupped business is just wrong.

  • I have a 15 month old chocolate (Ha!)lab and he went through phases where he would eat his poop all the time and then not again for days/weeks and then start eating it again. The bad tasting poop pills were no match for him-he didn’t give a shit (Ha!) if it tasted bad or not. We eventually started thinking that maybe it was something common that he ate. Perhaps he would eat it when we gave him rawhide? So we stopped with the rawhide and he stopped eating his poop. But then out of nowhere he would eat it again. We couldn’t crack the code. But I’m happy to report that there has been a change in the past two or so months and he has stopped eating it. I don’t know if he’s lost interest or if it’s because we dart after his poo and confiscate it at departure. Which was another theory initially-that he was ‘cleaning’ up after himself like he watched us do for him. Either way, I’m hoping it’s over for good.

    I’m sorry I’m no help with what to do next, but I can definitely relate to how upsetting it is when you have to try and shake a turd free from an unwilling gob. Or worse the kind that drools out. Eek!

    Good luck!!!

  • Our dogs just BOTH had kennell cough, which kept us up all night every night with them coughing… it was nutz.

    As far as eating poop. My dogs are normal in regards to poop eating, or at least they do it in the private of their own backyard I guess. Luckily I haven’t witnessed it yet.

    And that isn’t just a flaw…

    thats a damn deal breaker!

    No poop eating dog is going to lick me in the face when I get home from a long day. No mam.

  • Bertie Bott

    Oh dear commenter #52…my dad sprinkled cayenne pepper on our dog’s poop…she didn’t like it so much after that.

  • And that is why I don’t have any pets. Good luck, Heather.

  • Kim

    This post reminded me of my neighbor – who let her dog eat vomit on the sidewalk outside of a local bar. Suddenly poop is not so bad, right?

  • she’ll probably grow out of it. my dog was an unstoppable dog shit hoover for the first year and a half or so. then she moved on to cat shit until my boyfriend caught her in the act and had a GODDAMN ANEURISM. that cured that.

  • you are not alone with poop eating dogs… if you find a cure that really works please advise…

    our dog goes into the cat box to find poop to eat… ew

  • Helen Tarnation

    My Lab loves the snacks in the cat box….you can always tell when she comes out with little pieces of litter on her nose. We like to call it Kitty Roca…right before we all go “ew-w-w-w-w!”

    We finally got rid of the battery-operated LitterMaid and got a plain hooded box and she has a harder time getting her head in there to snack….doesn’t stop her from trying, though.

    From the pyramids and monuments in the yard, I think it’s safe to say she doesn’t fancy her own “nuggets!”

  • Our Sheltie, Vel, does that as well. EW. However since she’s barely four months old I’m holding on dearly to the hope that she’ll grow out of it.

    The gagging noise though, was that only one night? Just reminds me, Vel was diagnosed with a minor case of kennel cough just last weekend, from making that strange coughing/ gagging noise in the back of her throat. However, she’s young enough to be really susceptible to it.

  • We all have our little idiosyncrasies. Humans are just better at hiding them than dogs and cats. Yesterday I washed boogers off my car window that is next to the granddaughter’s carseat. She was chastised and threatened with washing many car windows if more is found. Hopefully she will outgrow this, but probably will just learn to use more discretion in future placement. I better start checking the upholstery.

    Dogs eating dog poop, disgusting. Dogs eating cat poop, unfathomable.

    P.S. Loved the NOW episode.

  • WJPadilla

    “screwing Elmo” huh?

    I can see why dad might break out in hives when he reads your blog! 😉

    And about the dog eating poop–what can we say, dogs are DISGUSTING!

  • I used to have a beagle who would do the same thing. We’d have to run around the yard and make sure every piece of poop was picked up before we could let her out, or she’d snack on it. We never did figure out how to make her stop. She definitely had nutritious food, but we never tried adding anything to existing poop to try to deter her. Good luck! I hope you find something that works.

  • Bronwen

    “Dave’s Gourmet Insanity Hot Sauce” does wonders. Before anyone calls me cruel, it won’t hurt your dog, because one taste and they are done. It is what stopped my english bulldog puppy from eating the house (trim, bookshelves, carpet, etc…). Tastes like hot sauce, not food. Doesn’t taste like hot sauce, have a party. If this doesn’t stop Coco, I am afraid nothing will stop her from eating poop.

  • you could always try taking away any and all real food and treats and let Coco eat nothing BUT poop for a week. it works for me when i get on a kick where i eat nothing but pizza rolls for a week straight. then the mere thought of them makes me run in the other direction.

    seriously though, that sucks and i speak from experience with two dogs. the best is when they throw up right after they eat the poop. SICK.ASS.

  • Thanks for the biggest laugh I’ve had all day. My husband and I just adopted a puppy and are reminded daily how hard it is to train and house-break a 13-week-old terror. At least he only likes cat poop — it’s easy enough to keep him away from the litter boxes. Usually.

  • I think you have to act like you own the poop. Just like she’s not allowed to eat Polly Pocket because you own it and you are in charge. I say get out in the yard and act like you own that poop! Stand over it and block her from it, just like you would if she were getting in the trashcan. Own the poop.

  • Oh! Don’t eat poop and don’t talk like Elmo during sex. No wonder I wasn’t getting any second dates.

  • kristin

    hiya! This is foolproof. and not cruel like hiding hot peppers in poop. I mean seriously? who wants to dig through poop to hide peppers? Crazy. Anyway, get your dog a citronella collar, with a remote control. Every time she goes for poop, zap the remote and it’ll spay a teeny bit on her. Mostly just the sound of the spray will scare her, but also dogs hate citronella. also, you can use this for other unwanted behavior 🙂 It totally works, pretty much the same as a shock collar…it;ll stop the barking on walks too! voila! do I get a prize for the best solution? Here’s the link http://www.dog.com/Search.aspx?query=citronella+collar and by the way…this website has THE CHEAPEST EVERYTHING for dogs. and free shipping 🙂

  • Dani

    My sister-in-law feeds her dogs pineapple after they’ve eaten, she saw Victoria Stillwell on Animal Planet do it and it works for their poop eating dog. Good luck. 🙂

  • Caitlin

    Here’s a few suggestions from “Perfect Paws” — although since it was the first hit on my google search, ya’ll have probably tried all of these already!!

    http://64.233.183.104/search?q=cache:hGu9dS4YWBkJ:www.perfectpaws.com/copro.html+training+dog+eating+feces&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=uk&client=firefox-a

    Often this behavior will just go away when the pup matures. In the mean time, keep the pup’s toilet area as clean as possible. Be sure that the puppy is checked for worms and other possible problems such as something lacking in the dog’s diet. It is a good idea to have the dog’s diet approved by your vet, or switch to a nutritionally complete dog food sold by your vet or pet store.

    Many owners have had success in stopping this behavior by supplementing their dog’s diet with one spoonful of canned pineapple or a teaspoon of spinach. There are products on the market such as ‘Forbid’ that can also be added to the dog’s food to help stop the problem.

    If the dog is still fond of feces, try teaching your dog not to touch it using the command ‘Off.’ Put your dog on leash and walk him by some feces. If he shows any interest in it, tell him, ‘No, off.’ If he continues to go for it, then loudly scold him, ‘OFF!!!’ and pull him away from it with a short, sharp tug on the leash. When he stops, praise him. Continue walking and keep returning to different piles of feces over and over, repeating the off procedure until he gets the idea that you disapprove of his dietary interests. Whenever he shows no interest in the feces, be sure to tell him how happy you are through praise and reward.

    It is also possible to make the feces unappetizing by sprinkling them with hot sauce, lemon juice or anything the dog finds distasteful. Some dogs like hot sauce and will consider it a garnish, so find out what your dog does not like before using it.

  • Anonymous

    You could try a thiamine vitamin supplement or Prozac. Either way, you should talk to your vet.

    Our dog use to do this and now that he’s on Prozac (for aggression) he’s no longer interested in it.

  • oh lord. this is something i try not to think about. we have 2 dogs. one poop-eater, and one non-poop-eater. Poo. Peter. Poop Eater. Nasty.

    A warning on the pepper trick- a friend recommended that to us as well. well, instead of going and getting the specific pepper that she recommended sprinkling over the poop, my dear, darling boyfriend decided to just use some hot sauce out of the fridge on all the poop in the yard. feeling pretty proud of himself, he came back in and let the dogs out. 5 minutes later- the poop-eater came back in with the HUGEST smile in his face and breath that smelt of spicy poop. he had eaten every last bit of poop in the yard. EVERY. LAST. BIT. the dog basically high fived my boyfriend for seasoning the poop snacks so well.

    i’m gagging as i type this.

  • Dogs eating poop doesn’t disgust me (I have become desensitized to it). But a grown man speaking like a muppet during sex? OH DEAR GOD! How did you not end it right then and there? Or did you?

  • I read about a woman in a similar situation, though with a younger puppy. The puppy was still penned into a small room, and when he got bored, he would go around eating his own poop. His owner, like you, found this to be a total deal-breaker. So she rigged up a complicated set of mirrors so that she could see over the counter and monitor the dog, but the dog couldn’t see her. Every time the dog went anywhere close to the poop, the woman leapt around the corner and scolded the dog.

    This struck me as the key to my childhood…how did my mom ALWAYS know when I was lying?! But I digress…

    This woman convinced the dog that he was always being watched, even when he couldn’t see her, and that he would get in trouble *every time* he went near any poop.

    I’ve also heard that this is something that most puppies grow out of (obviously, not all of them, based on previous commenters).

  • My mother had a dog with the same problem. There was NOTHING that would keep her from eating poop. The only thing grosser was when she puked poop and then consumed the puked poop. Drinking toilet water ranks WAY higher.

  • Shellee

    I have heard that sprinkling meat tenderizer on their food will make their poop less appealing to them.

  • poop and animals freak me out. more so with cats than dogs though.

    i don’t like how cats walk around in their litter boxes moving around their poop then precede to walk on peoples kitchen counters where they prepare FOOD!

    i mean no thanks to the poop counters and the ca ca paws of a cat. ick.

  • I have had a hard time with my dog “marking” his territory all over my houe! I guess it makes me feel better that he isn’t eating his own, or anyone elses shit! Now, if I could just convince my husband to let me put diapers on him until he breakes this habit of peeing all over….. IT DRIVES ME CRAZY!!! (that is a short drive)

    Good luck. It gives us something else to obsess about besides what is really wrong with US.

    Mandy

  • I have had a hard time with my dog “marking” his territory all over my houe! I guess it makes me feel better that he isn’t eating his own, or anyone elses shit! Now, if I could just convince my husband to let me put diapers on him until he breakes this habit of peeing all over….. IT DRIVES ME CRAZY!!! (that is a short drive)

    Good luck. It gives us something else to obsess about besides what is really wrong with US.

    Mandy

  • Although Elmo-voice-during-sex is one of the most regrettable things I’ve heard in a long time, I hope you at least thanked your lucky stars it wasn’t Miss-Piggy-voice-during-sex. HIII-YA!

  • Molly

    A+ post; would read again.

    The whole toilet-drinking issue isn’t as gross because you regularly clean your toilet and because, every time you flush it, it fills with clean water. I have the same double standard.

    My mother has an Australian Shepherd who will eat ANYTHING, including wood, rocks, paper, tinfoil, razors, glasses, shoes, mittens, and the occasional yummy helping of whatever poop is available. He does this much less when he has enough exercise. Obviously, I don’t totally know your dog’s exercise routine, but when you have an easy-to-care-for dog like Chuck, you might underestimate just how much running-around-time little miss Coco really needs.

    Also, she’s a herding dog, so she’s keeping things neat and clean and looking after the herd. And she’s a puppy … she could still outgrow it.

    AS’s usually do really well with herding lessons … if there’s a farm or something nearby where she could run with the other herd dogs, you might see a drastic difference in her behavior.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, dont know why that posted twice!

  • You know, I was fine reading your post, not a stomach-churn in sight. But mid-way through the comments, I had to stop because I haven’t eaten lunch yet and I was starting to feel a little sick. And I love dogs!

    I have not experienced this particular problem, but I would consider the recommendation to get a heavy-duty squirt bottle loaded with cayenne pepper water and spray her face forecfully every time you witness her little habit.

    That kind of aversion training has been successful for me…not to mention the mean little thrill I get because I can call it “training” while letting loose some annoyance over their behavior.

  • I’m sorry but I’ve never known a dog who loves poop to ever stop loving poop. 🙁 Just have to keep it out of their sight. It is a VERY good thing that you don’t have cat with a litter box….then you would REALLY have a problem.

    Acceptance is the key…that is all I can say….

  • Anonymous

    All I have to say is that I would totally pay good money to see you and the family on The Dog Whisperer! Here’s the link for submissions: http://www.cesarmillaninc.com/dogwhisperer/submissions.php

  • Oh! you made me laugh so hard!

    I agree if he talked at the crucial moments like that, it had to be a deal breaker!

  • Barf barf!! My dog does this too. She will even bring dry poo into the house on the sly to snack on at her leisure. Dear god it pushes me over the edge. I am newly pregnant and smelling my dog’s breath after she’s been outside makes mommy go to a very unhappy place.

  • OK, so maybe Prozac will work.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t have a dog– in fact I’m deathly allergic to them– so no help on that topic. But I can totally sympathize with the muppet thing. Yuck, I dated a guy like that– what the hell is up with the voices dude?