Dear Miss Behavior: My little Shih-Tzu ‘Mitzy’ was a gift from my son. She is the sweetest little girl, and I love her to death. But she has one most disgusting habit–she eats her own poo. I take her to the back yard to do her job and I clean up after her but sometimes not quickly enough. Why does she do this? What can I do to change this behavior? Scolding her has not helped.
Don’t be embarrassed! Some dogs eat feces. First, take Mitzy to the vet to make sure there’s not a medical reason. Then look at the food you’re feeding her; sometimes dogs eat their feces because they aren’t getting a needed nutrient. It may just be that Mitzy’s trying to help you keep the yard clean. She see’s you picking up and wants to do her part.
If she gets a clean bill of health and is eating a quality dog food, then it’s time to work on training Mitzy. Start by putting her on leash when you take her out for her ‘walkies’. As soon as she’s done her business, call her to you, tugging gently on the lead if necessary and reward her. Put her in a sit, and then clean up after her. Once she’s moved away from her feces, you can gently restrain her from going back to it. I might say “Ah-ah” or “Yuck” to let her know you don’t approve.
Teaching her a “Leave it!” command would be really useful. Check out the Good Dog Classes at GLOC to learn how!
Thanks to this feature goes to Greater Lincoln Obedience Club, who ran the Miss Behavior Dog Advice Column in their newsletter. Appreciation also is extended to Marcy Graybill, a trainer at GLOC and the expert behind this column. She also hosts her own blog, Dog Log, where she talks about training adventures with her dogs.