Your dog’s popsicle preference has just gone wild…
Or should I say poopsicle?
I say so as they’re eating frozen poop during the winter.
Oh, what could’ve sparked that peculiar habit?
Continue reading to discover:
- 9 reasons why dogs eat frozen poop in winter.
- 5 facts about coprophagia that you need to know.
- 3 ways to stop your pooch from eating frozen poop.
- Why do dogs prefer frozen poop over other kinds of stools.
- And many more…
Table of contents
- Why do dogs eat frozen poop?
- Why do dogs eat poop in winter?
- 9 reasons why dogs eat (frozen) poop in winter
Why do dogs eat frozen poop?
Dogs eat frozen poop because they like its taste and it’s crunchy. They’re more drawn to iced poop because its smell is more enticing. This behavior is natural for dogs, regardless of the composition of the poop. They can learn it from puppyhood or boredom.
Why do dogs eat poop in winter?
Dogs eat poop in the winter just like they eat poop in any weather. That’s because it’s normal behavior and dogs enjoy the taste of it. They can also learn this habit due to many shortcomings in their puppyhood. But, during winter, poops are frozen and more crunchy. Dogs enjoy that variation.
9 reasons why dogs eat (frozen) poop in winter
#1: The smell is more inviting
When you think of poop, you might also think, “Gross.”
Humans react that way even though it’s part of everyday life.
That’s because poop contains waste. Moreover, the majority smells terrible…
But, not for your pooch.
Such grossness never crossed your dog’s mind.
In fact, the opposite is the one that invades your canine’s attention…
The smell of poop is inviting for your fur baby.
Believe it or not, that gross odor is actually attractive for Fido.
Then, during winter, that aroma becomes stronger…
It has become prevalent…
It calls your dog even more.
How does that happen?
It’s because the cold weather preserves the poop.
The same way that humans keep the meat in the freezer.
With that, the weather becomes convenient for your picky dog.
AKC says that 92% of poop-eating dogs prefer fresh stools.
Fido’s tastebud is mostly reserved for poops that are 1 to 2 days old only.
Winter keeps that freshness going on. It does so by locking in the initial moisture of the poop.
Moreover, according to experts, temperature influences bacterial growth.
When it’s below 38°F (3°C), bacteria don’t grow that well.
With that, it’ll take longer for the poop to become more smelly than it already is. It’s like it slows the rotting process of the poo.
And so, your pooch deems the frozen poop fresh and perfect for their preference…
But want to know a smell that isn’t inviting to anyone at all?
The bad gas that your dog will suddenly release after ingesting stool.
“How can I avoid this from happening?”
Method #1: Put a poop-eating deterrent on their food.
Such a product can make the smell of poop unbearable for your pooch.
You can add it to their food.
Then, they won’t be compelled to wait for it to be frozen and eat it on their next potty.
Here’s a recommended poop-eating deterrent that can do wonders.
Method #2: You must always clean up before your pooch.
After they expel their stool, do the honors of picking it up immediately.
If there are no poops to see, there’ll be nothing for Fido to crunch on.
Method #3: Discourage the behavior properly.
How can you do that?
After your dog goes potty, call them to you immediately.
Then, give them a treat.
Doing this will distract them from the fact that they just pooped.
When that happens, you can go your way and practice method #2.
#2: They like its taste
Most of the time, the answer is simple…
Dogs eat poop because they like the taste of it.
It’s a preference that dog parents would never understand…
And it’s not just their stool or other canines’ that they target.
Dogs are also known to eat poops of other animals. Examples are the stool of rabbits, chickens, horses, and deers.
And because this behavior is common, there’s a scientific term for it: coprophagia.
How dogs developed this habit
Steven R. Lindsay, an animal behaviorist, believes something about coprophagia.
He said it in his book Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training.
According to him, poop-eating was once a means of survival for dogs in the wild.
First of all, dogs are scavengers. They’ll eat anything edible that they can find.
Moreover, eating poop is a way to escape starvation.
In the wild, dogs don’t fully rely on humans.
They’re dependent on their scavenging ability.
But, sometimes, food supplies are low.
That’s why dogs succumb to eating their own poop to survive.
How common is coprophagia in dogs
Dr. Benjamin Hart, a professor at the University of California, Davis, talked about this.
He presented some of his findings on a 2012 study at a conference.
Here’s what he shared:
Fact #1: 1 in 6 dogs are serious stool eaters. That means that they’re caught eating poop more than 5 times during the span of the study.
Fact #2: 1 in 5 dogs are caught eating poop at least once.
Fact #3: Female dogs are more likely to eat poop.
That might be due to a habit that female dogs do during nursing.
A dam, or mother dog, would clean her den no matter what. PetMD says that includes eating the poop of her young.
Fact #4: 85% of poop-eating dogs dislike their own stool. They’ll only eat poops of other canines and animals.
Fact #5: So, coprophagic canines prefer other dogs’ stools, right? With that, the behavior is more common in multi-dog households.
In a family with more than 3 dogs, the habit is practiced by 33% of the participants in the study.
#3: The poop is crunchier
Yet another gross reason for humans…
But it’s a magnificent motivation for your pooch.
What am I talking about?
It’s the fact that frozen poop is crunchier than the usual ones.
Dogs enjoy crunchy snacks.
A perfect example of this situation is a dog’s fondness over ice.
Whenever it’s available, your pooch will appreciate munching on ice cubes.
They love that not only because it’s crackling but also because it’s cold.
Now, add that fondness for ice to their love of taste for poops…
That gets your pooch…
None other than the extreme taste for frozen stools.
It’s a delicacy for your doggo.
Moreover, here’s a fun fact from AKC:
Dogs who eat poop don’t like soft and puddly stools.
You won’t see them going for a poop that’s a product of diarrhea.
Most dogs are attracted to hard and formed stool…
And the winter is the perfect giver of that kind of poo.
That’s why your pooch eats frozen poop with enjoyment.
#4: It’s easier to spot
This is a reason that brings dog parents together. That’s because many agree to it…
In winter, poop is more visible for dogs.
It’s due to the contrasting colors of brown and white…
That makes it easier for Fido to lock their target.
It’s such a convenient circumstance.
Additionally, dogs enjoy digging snow so much.
So, don’t be shocked when you see your pooch digging out a frozen poo.
It’s a rewarding and enjoyable game for your pooch.
With that, there’s an agreeable increase in coprophagic behaviors when it’s snowing.
That’s why I repeat…
You must pick up your dog’s poop immediately. And now you know that you must practice that, especially during winter.
#5: A habit from puppyhood
Sometimes the reason behind this behavior stems from their puppyhood.
Let’s go back to the time that your pooch was still a pup…
When Fido was young, they spent a lot of their time exploring using their mouths.
Using that behavior, they get to learn the world around them.
The term for this habit is mouthing, and it serves as a puppy’s navigation device.
Moreover, puppies are naturally curious.
So, put mouthing and that interest for almost anything…
You get a puppy who won’t hesitate to eat poop. May it be during winter or summer…
As mentioned, if it’s the former, your pup can enjoy it more.
And if this habit isn’t curbed during puppyhood, your pooch brings it to adulthood.
That’s why experts advise you to control mouthing as early as you can.
By doing so, you might avoid having a coprophagic pooch in the long run.
Notice that your puppy is mouthing?
Controlling your pup’s mouthing behavior
The best way to do this is using chew toys…
Give your pup something else to chew on when they begin to gnaw at something you don’t want them to.
Doing so will redirect their focus from the object that they initially prefer.
And not just one chew toy, but many.
You must give them plenty of interesting toys to choose from.
If it’s a burden on your budget, you can always alternate between a few toys.
This is necessary because dogs prefer new objects over old ones.
It’s called neophilia. This study experimented with this phenomenon on domesticated dogs…
Results show that 76% of the time, dogs prefer novel items.
That preference includes toys.
So, if you don’t switch it up now and then…
Your pooch might grow tired of the knickknack…
With that, you risk them going back to chewing whatever they can.
#6: They’re bored and unsupervised
Aside from their love of poop, dogs eat it just because they can.
This can happen when you leave them unattended in the yard where they potty.
Since there’s poop somewhere, they’ll eat it. It’s as simple as that for this reason…
Moreover, they can be bored on their own devices.
And if a dog feels bored…
Get ready to handle some bizarre behaviors like this one.
That’s why if you’re leaving your pooch in the yard, put their toys out, too.
Here’s a hack to keep your pup occupied:
Use interactive dog toys that can challenge your pup’s mind.
Try this puzzle toy for a beginner doggo. It has obstacles that reveal treats.
Did you know? Such toys can be mentally stimulating for dogs. It’s equally important to get enough exercise for your dog.
#7: A substitute for grass
First, let’s talk about your dog’s urge to eat grass…
According to VCA Hospitals, one reason for this habit is the need for fiber.
Your pooch knows that consuming grass can help them digest food. Then, that assists their bowel, and they can pass stool easily.
However, they can only practice this habit during warm months…
So, what about their grass cravings in the winter?
It’s a good thing that your pooch found a way…
And it’s to consume frozen poop in the winter.
In this case, your pooch might not eat another dog’s stool.
Instead, they’ll opt for the poop of herbivores. Those are animals that eat certain plants. I’ve mentioned them before, and they’re rabbits and deers.
Since those animals mostly eat plants, their poops might be the thing your dog needs…
So, when your pup comes across one of those animal’s stools in the winter…
“Yum…” says Fido.
That’s because their grass cravings have been answered.
This is another reason that can be traced back to their puppyhood…
Your pooch socialized poorly during their younger years.
With that, they developed habits and behaviors that are of concern.
Coprophagia is one of the many examples.
Then, PetMD warns us of more consequences of lack of socialization:
- Afraid of strangers.
- Being easily frightened.
- Scared around other dogs.
- Becoming sound sensitive.
- Uneasiness during grooming sessions.
- Reacting immediately with aggression.
How exactly does socialization help?
Dogs learn from each other
According to Dr. Stanley Coren, a psychologist, dogs model other dogs.
He tells us in this article that it’s an important fact that’s often overlooked.
Did you know? It’s easier to train a puppy if you already have an adult dog at home.
When that happens, your puppy can learn what you already taught your other canine.
If your pup sees that mentor Fido doesn’t munch on poop, then your pupper will imitate them.
However, if your doggo doesn’t have a model growing up…
They might begin showing behaviors that aren’t desirable.
#9: Anxiety (made worse by the weather)
Dogs can get anxious during days with chilly temperatures…
It might be rare, but it’s not impossible.
With this anxiety, a displacement behavior is learned.
Such a practice is something that your dog does to distract them from their anxiety.
On this cold winter day, they choose to eat frozen poop.
Moreover, the weather’s not helpful if your dog has a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Research says that GAD can impair your dog’s daily life functions.
That’s because your pooch will display constant signs of anxiety. That can happen regardless of the context…
With that, the things that your pup needs to do are delayed or disrupted.
They might pick and eat frozen poop to try and make themself feel better.
To help you even further, AKC gives us a list of signs of anxiety in dogs:
- Sudden panting.
- Destructive behaviors.
- Urinating in the house.
- Fear-induced aggression.
- Pooping inside the house.
- Development of compulsive behaviors. Coprophagia is also an example of this.
Continue reading: 19 Proven Ways To Calm Your Anxious Dog (How-To Guide)