My seven-year-old Yorkie cross has started eating his own poo in our garden. Why is he doing this and how can I stop it? Ruby Collins, Bath
Coprophagia (faeces eating) is a problem that most owners will have to deal with at some time in their dog's life. People don't like to discuss the issue of coprophagia because they find it embarrassing. One of the most common reasons for this behaviour is dietary deficiency, because dogs cannot absorb the correct nutrients from their food, especially if they are on a premium wet food. If the dog cannot digest the food properly, his faeces will retain the odour of the original food, which will make it very appetising to him. You should consider changing the dog's diet to a dry food that is nutritionally balanced. Always seek veterinary advice before doing this. Canines also eat poo out of boredom. The first thing you need to do is make sure that your garden is kept faeces-free. If your dog has lots of activity during the day, like several short walks and some play sessions, he will be mentally and physically tired and therefore less likely to eat his droppings. When you let your dog out to go to the toilet, have him on a long lead and when he's finished his business, call him back into the house. When he comes, give him lots of praise and then a big reward like a food treat. If the dog doesn't respond and you think he is going to eat the poo, guide him to you using the lead.
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