Updated May 28, 2017
If your Labrador is eating his or her feces, you’re not alone. Labrador puppies in particular, tend to develop this repulsive behavior. Fortunately, coprophagia isn’t a permanent problem in most cases, and usually resolves with time.
Why do dogs eat feces? The scientific term for this is coprophagia, and it’s not uncommon, but is pretty disguising for humans.
There are a lot of theories as to why dogs eat poop. Here are five of the more common reasons:
1. It is tasty
It may be hard to believe, but the truth is that most Labradors eat poop simply because they enjoy the taste. Dogs that eat too quickly may be especially be attracted to their feces. This is because their body doesn’t break down the food properly, leaving the food close to its original state.
2. It is a natural instinct
Some people think that dogs eat feces because it is a natural instinct that is passed on from the time canines used to be scavengers. Before they were domesticated, dogs scavenged for food and ate whatever they could find, including animal feces. You may also have noticed that mothers with newborn puppies will instinctively eat their offspring’s feces. This is done to keep predators away and protect their young.
Like many other behavioral problems, coprophagia can be caused by boredom in Labrador Retrievers. Dogs that don’t get enough attention or exercise will often find other ways to pass the time such as chewing or in this case, eating poop.
4. To eliminate evidence
Labrador puppies that are not properly potty trained will often develop coprophagia as a way to get rid of the evidence and avoid being punished. In other words, your dog thinks having a bowel movement is bad and is probably eating his or her own poop out of fear.
Dogs that live in insanitary environments may also take matters into their own hands and start to eat their own feces to keep their living area clean.
5. To make up for lack of nutrition
Lastly, some experts believe that dogs eat feces as an alternative way to get the nutrients that they’re lacking either from not eating enough food or from a low quality diet.
Ways to stop your Labrador eating poop
- Feed a high quality, complete dog food at least twice daily as recommended by your vet.
- Keep your Labrador’s living environment sanitary and free of stool.
- Provide your dog with plenty of exercise and give him or her sufficient attention. If you’re going to be away for a while, it’s helpful to leave a variety of toys out to keep your pup busy.
- If your Lab knows the “leave it” command, you could use it to correct your dog whenever you catch him or her in the act of eating poop.
- Ask your vet for a special formula to add to your dog’s food and make his or her stool taste bitter. A natural alternative to this would be adding a small amount of pineapple to your dog’s meals.
- Distract your dog with a fun game or by using the “come” command when he or she is about to eat poop. Don’t yell or punish your dog; your Lab puppy will only feed off of the attention you give and eat poop even more often. Instead, reward your dog each time he or she obeys when called.