Eating poop is a normal behaviour in dogs and around 24% have eaten stools at least once in their lives. However, there are many reasons as to why they might be doing this, ranging in severity, and it could potentially be a sign that there is a deeper issue.
On the lighter and more normal side, one type of dog that is more likely to eat poop is a mother dog cleaning up after her litter, this is to make her home place feel like a safer and cleaner place to raise her pups. Another reason is evolution – originally dogs were scavengers and had to hunt for their food, as it is in their DNA to provide for themselves. So, if they are hungry or even hoarding food, they may turn to poop as a form of sustenance. So, it’s nothing you need worry about.
Another reason is dogs may try it once to see the reaction it evokes in you and may pick up the behaviour to get attention from you (whether positive or negative). If they see a negative reaction in you, as a result of pooping somewhere in the house, it could cause them to develop feelings of anxiety, so if they do it again they will eat it to cover their tracks and avoid any potential punishment.
On a more serious note, your dog may be eating their stools because it contains undigested food – and so they consider it as food. This can be a sign of a medical issue and should be checked out with your vet. Other signs of a more serious issue are if your dog appears to not be feeling well, experiencing weight loss, vomiting or exhibiting other behavioural changes.
To stop this behaviour there are a number of methods you can try. The first is putting taste-aversion products in your dog’s food which acts as a poop-deterrent, so hopefully if you use this for a while, dogs will associate their poop with a bad taste and not do it again. Another method is just to pick up your dogs poop immediately on walks, which doesn’t help if they’re pooping during the night and you’re not around – but reduces the scenarios in which they can pick up the behaviour. It also helps to keep your dogs living area clean, so they are less likely to mess it up themselves.
If neither of these methods work, you can use the treat distraction method, every time you see your dog eating poop, distract them and when they comply praise them and give them a treat. Finally, eating poop has been suggested as a sign of nutritional deficiency in your dog, so adding vitamin supplements (especially Vitamin-B) to your dog’s diet has been suggested to reduce this behaviour.