One year old German Shorthaired Pointer eating feces

Our question this week was:

My one-year-old GSP has started to eat her feces. I've tried adding Accent and also Forbid, from my vet, to her food, but nothing is working. Do you have any suggestions?


JoAnn High


Hi – thanks for your email. This is a common behavioral problem in dogs. There are a lot of "solutions" and everyone one has their favorites recommendations (which to be honest means that nothing really works consistently).

"Coprophagia" is the technical term for eating stool (feces). Although it is a disgusting habit to most people, it is a natural behavior in dogs. Bitches naturally consume their own pup's feces – presumably, to keep the nest clean. Most puppies that eat feces do so as they explore their environment and "grow" out of it as they become adults. However, some dogs, like your one year old, will learn the behavior as adults.

I'm going to give you tips from a well-known behaviorist that wrote an article for me on petplace –Dr. Nicholas Dodman. He has some great tips that may help you.

He writes:

There are several "home" remedies that have been practiced, but they rarely work. You already tried a couple. They include:

The following strategies have met with more success, though it is important to note that results vary:

Although some of the above measures have occasionally been found effective on their own, it best to apply a whole program of prevention for at least six months to nip the behavior in the bud. If during this time, if the dog gets access to stool and ingests it, some ground will be lost. Hopefully, though, progress will eventually be made, even if it's one step back for every two forward.

Despite all these modifications in environment and training, some dogs persist in the habit of coprophagia. For these dogs, the compulsive disorder diagnosis may be worth considering. Some obstinate cases respond to the judicious use of human anti-depressants.

Although controversial, the obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnosis seems to fill the bill, on occasion at least, and it meets a couple of the scientific criteria for diagnosis.

An article that might be helpful to you is on our is "Teaching the Leave it Command."

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

To read most recent questions Click here!

Click here to see the full list of Ask Dr. Debra Questions and Answers!