As anyone who has experienced the moment their beloved dog making a meal out of the little pile he just deposited in the yard knows, there are few things as horrifying and stomach turning. Luckily, there’s a few easy tips for curing a poop snacker.

If the problem occurs outside in the yard:

  1. Make sure the yard is clean and free of feces at all times. This ounce of prevention may be just enough to break a nasty habit.
  2. Make sure you are feeding a high quality food. Low quality foods don’t have enough nutrition so dogs eat more and more. The result is that a large amount of the food travels through the system undigested, so the waste looks and smells like food. The dog might try to consume this “food” again. Adding a probiotic or yogurt to your dog’s food may also help.
  3. Keep the dog on leash when you take her out for potty breaks. Distract and reward with a treat when finished and take the dog back inside until you can clean up.
  4. Dogs who are bored, lonely, stressed or anxious, and breeds who tend to like to carry things in their mouths, might show this behavior. Be sure to provide plenty of exercise and mentally enriching activities throughout the day. Determine if there is stress or reason for anxiety, and minimize it.
  5. As you catch the dog trying to eat the stool, try saying a quick “Ah-ah” and offer a tasty treat. Remove the dog from the area until you have a chance to clean.
  6. Teach your dog to “Leave it” and make it a big party when your dog looks to you for her reward!
  7. Add a few teaspoons of pumpkin, pineapple or spinach to the dog’s food each day, which tastes delicious but smells poorly as waste.

If the problem happens inside the house:

  1. Dogs like their areas neat and clean, and might eat the feces to clean the area.
  2. Dogs confined to a small area for long periods of time might feel a little more stress or anxiety, so make sure you are spending plenty of time with her to alleviate the boredom or stress. Provide plenty of snacking alternatives, including stuffed Kongs and food puzzles, Nylabones, bully sticks, etc.
  3. Dogs who are punished for defecating in the house may eat the stool to hide it.
  4. Some puppies like to try out their feces out of curiosity. If allowed to indulge, they can just develop a taste for it that carries into adulthood.

This can be a difficult habit to break since it is so self rewarding, but you can change this habit by being vigilant, patient, and offering bigger rewards for leaving the stool alone.