How do I get my Labrador Retriever to stop eating poop?

by Shannon Merritt

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Labrador Retriever sniffing, 2 months old, in front of white background

I have a Labrador Retriever, and she is an excellent dog. The only problem is she won’t stop eating poop, and I don’t know what to do.

Determined to find a solution to this bad habit, I did a little research, and here is what I found out.

How do I get my Labrador Retriever to stop eating poop?

How to get your Labrador Retriever to stop eating poop is to train them, keep their living environment clean of poop, including cat litter boxes and the yard, as well as supervise their walks and visits to the dog park while cleaning up immediately after them.  To get your Labrador Retriever to stop eating poop, training them not to do this bad habit should be a top priority. 

Cleanliness is also essential, meaning ensuring that their yard and an indoor area where other animals like a cat might live are clean and free of poop that might linger around and offer them an opportunity to eat it.  While visiting parks, dog parks, or when they are on a hike or walk, it is a good idea to keep a close watch on their activities to deter them before they eat poop. 

To get your Labrador Retriever to stop eating poop, it may be necessary to reinforce verbal training on these outings to help them remember what is expected of them.  It will also be necessary for pet parents to clean up after them immediately after they poop while out and about to prevent them from eating poop and help other pet parents who may have a dog that suffers from this bad habit. 

If we all do our part, it can lessen any dog’s chance to behave this way and reduce the likelihood of this bad habit surfacing.  As members of our communities, it is also essential that we clean up after our dog, regardless of whether they eat poop or not.

Labrador Retrievers, like other dogs, can have bad habits just like we humans can.  Unfortunately, some of those bad habits may seem odd, gross, or all-around bad in our eyes.  Eating poop, whether their own or someone else’s, can be gross, but in certain instances for dogs and even other animals, this can be considered normal.

For certain animals, it can be normal and even vital to helping them gain nutrients, but sometimes this can be a real issue for a Labrador Retriever or other dog.  Puppies can be notorious for adopting this habit, eating any poop they may find. While dogs lacking adequate nutrition may instinctively do this, mother pups will also do this during the first few weeks of their puppies’ life.

That being said, what can be considered normal in the animal world, is not always normal in the human world.  It is also possible that there are certain situations where a Labrador Retriever or other dog eats poop that can cause health issues in the dog.  This is one of the reasons it is always a good idea to stop your Labrador Retriever if you catch them eating poop.  This usually happens when a Labrador Retriever eats poop from an animal of a different species.

Other animals like rabbits, geese, or other wild creatures can have unhealthy things in their poop.  These unhealthy things can include parasites and viruses, which can make the Labrador Retriever sick.  While hiking it is best to keep them on the trail which can also lessen the likelihood that they will encounter other critters and their poop.

Training and cleanliness are by far the best way to prevent this troublesome habit while being diligent about what they are doing when out and away from home.  Each of us has a responsibility to keep our community areas clean for others and protect the other animals in the community. 

Cleaning up after our dog, or even in some instances, another dog’s remains, prevents troublesome habits while reducing problems and uncleanliness for everyone.  It also sets an example for others to follow and, with time, can create a cleaner and healthier community for all.

In our home environment, whether outside or inside, cleanliness can prevent many bad habits, including eating poop for a Labrador Retriever.  If they live in a clean environment, there is less temptation to do things they shouldn’t do.  When this is combined with proper training reinforced whenever necessary, it is unlikely that eating poop will be a problem.

Why is it that any dog would decide to eat poop?

Most often, the reason why any dog would decide to eat poop is linked to their health.  Whether their daily nutrition is not complete, or they are suffering from an undiagnosed health issue, eating poop is often a symptom or side effect.

If your dog appears to be regularly attempting to eat poop, first check their diet and make sure they are being fed a healthy and adequate amount of food daily.  If that doesn’t solve the problem or lessen the issue, consult their veterinarian for possible hidden health issues.

While this issue is most common in puppies, it can happen to adult dogs or be a habit that was never broken from puppyhood and carried into adulthood. 

With that, there are specific health issues in dogs that can have them eating poop that include:

  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid Problems
  • Parasites
  • Problems with their digestive system

These are just a few health problems that could be the cause.  There can be others, and it is always best to consult their veterinarian to help uncover health issues if there are any existing.

Other cases where a Labrador might eat poop include stress in their life.  Let’s face it, we all respond to excess stress in our unique way.  Dogs are the same way; they will act out and find ways of coping with the stresses of life in ways that feel comfortable to them, including eating poop.  Odd, right?  Imagine what they think of some of our human habits!

Some dogs will also eat poop because of emotional issues or behavioral problems.

When a dog is not having their needs met or they are neglected in some way, they may act out and do what we consider strange or unhealthy to get attention.  This behavior can include such things as eating poop.   These issues should be addressed with their veterinarian in case there is an underlying health issue that could be causing their unusual behavior.

Curiosity can also be an issue as some dogs have unique personality traits like we humans do, and they are naturally drawn to behaving in ways that seem off or out of character.  In these instances, training and good social skills can minimize their curiosity and other unhealthy habits.  It should be said that these issues are more common in puppies that don’t know any better and are curious about their world.

However, some dogs never grow out of that puppy mentality, and the only way to manage or deal with it is with diligent cleaning and watchfulness, and training.  With time, all bad habits fade away.

What are some other ways to prevent my Labrador from eating poop?

There are a few other ways to prevent your Labrador from eating poop that are passive, and the dog will not likely notice.

These are related to their diet.  Ensuring that they have a healthy and nutritiously adequate diet is extremely important.  Beyond that, certain supplements can be given to their food to enhance their overall health and diet.

While these may not directly prevent them from eating poop, it can ensure that a Labrador receives a healthy diet and is less tempted to sample outdoor and other offerings out of dietary needs and poor health.

Some products can be added to their diet to deter them from eating their own poop because they make the poop taste bad.  These products known as deterrents can work, but it depends mainly on the dog and if they eat their own poop.  Some dogs don’t eat their own, but they will eat other animals’ poop while out and about on walks, hikes, or at a park.

Eating poop is not a habit that should be encouraged no matter what the reason.  Dogs need to learn what is acceptable so they don’t cause themselves unnecessary illness, on the flip side it can be important for us as pet parents to do our part to keep them and other dogs healthy.

Final Thought

While a Labrador Retriever or another dog might eat poop from time to time, it can be an unhealthy habit that, in some cases, can have adverse effects on their overall health.

We all make mistakes from time to time, but proper training can reduce the chance that this problem will arise.  If and when it does, cleanliness should always be a part of a healthy dog lifestyle, including their home environment and in their community to keep everyone healthy and safe.

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