Why do Labrador Retrievers eat poop?

Many dog owners are familiar with one of the most inconceivable behavioral traits exhibited by canines: eating their (or other animal’s) feces. This may seem disgusting, amusing, or purely idiotic to us humans, but in reality, it is an actual diagnosed veterinary condition in dogs. The scientific term for “eating poop” is Coprophagia, which basically defines the deliberate habitual consumption of fecal material. There are many reasons why dogs may eat poop, most of which can be corrected by proper behavioral training.

One of the most common reasons that your Labrador Retriever might eat poop is lack of a high-quality dog food. If your dog is not getting all of their required nutrients, they may still have “food” cravings after eating. This will drive them to find other sources of available sustenance, which may mean eating their own feces. Also, a low-quality dog food may be difficult to digest, so your dog’s feces may still consist of many of the elements of the consumed dog food. If you do not switch foods immediately after this behavior is noted, your dog may continue to eat poop in an effort to get additional nutrients.

Another common cause of Coprophagia is lack of attention, or neglect. If your Labrador Retriever is not getting adequate positive attention from you, they may try to elicit negative attention, much like a child. Many pet owners will scold their dogs for eating poop, which is a form of negative attention. Dogs may also eat feces out of boredom, anxiety, or loneliness. While inconceivable to humans, this behavior can actually be a sign that your dog is lacking in some emotional needs. Be sure to give your dog as much attention as you would a child, as this can discourage occurrences of Coprophagia.

The Labrador Retriever breed has what is called an “oral fixation”, which is the desire and tendency to carry objects in the mouth. This is one of the reasons that they make excellent retriever dogs, but it can also lead to Coprophagia. A dog may see its poop as an available object to be carried (and eaten!), which will cause them to engage in this behavior. To help discourage this behavior, be sure to provide plenty of available toys to occupy your Labrador’s attention. A good choice for a chew toy is a filled bone, as this will probably engage their oral attentions for quite some time. This will lower the chances of them viewing their poop as a consumable chew toy.

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