20 week old cocker eating her poo. When do I muzzle?

(46 Posts)
Rinsefirst Wed 22-Jan-20 11:02:40

Female 20 week old working cocker, very bright, Olympic fast, living with older cocker, 12 years, male . Training going reasonably well but she eats her own poo and his poo if i am not fast enough. We seem to be in a downward spiral because eating her own poo is causing her to have v soft poos which then are harder to police... when i am picking up the first, she is off doing and eating the second.
I accompany her into the garden always and try to stay focused on grabbing poo ASAP
One area of our garden is wall to wall laurel bushes ,she's now taken to hide underneath and do her business there. I cannot reach it. Any advice - I've tried pineapple, grated courgette and now some pet stool tables from Pets at Home which i am giving to them both.
I've spoken to both vet and dog trainer who say she may grow out of it but be vigilant and pick up ASAP.
They say a muzzle might be an option.
Exploring having netting put round the laurel bushes.
Anyone used a muzzle at 20 week for this? sad

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Booboostwo Wed 22-Jan-20 11:09:43

I am unsure why your vet and trainer were so concerned about this. Did they explain why? Is it the soft stools that follow?

To be honest I would ignore it, all dogs will eat some kind of poo and it's not uncommon for them to eat their own poo.

If you do decide to use a muzzle you will need to take some time to introduce her to the idea gently with positive reinforcement so that she accepts it. It's a good idea to muzzle train all puppies as you never know when they might need it in the future and it's part of the vet environment socialization, e.g. being on an examination table, examining their teeth, getting them used to a cone, etc. So the young age is an advantage not an issue in itself.

Rinsefirst Wed 22-Jan-20 11:19:07

She has constantly soft and runny poos. Her breath stinks and her farts are awful. As soon as I manage a period of 18-24 hours of her not eating a poo everything hardens up. Sorry if too much information.

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inwood Wed 22-Jan-20 11:21:05

This is something they just grow out of, I wouldn't muzzle for it. She'll associate pooing / going outside with the muzzle and may just start pooing inside / wherever she wants.

Booboostwo Wed 22-Jan-20 11:24:53

I had one who ate his own poo and his breath and farts did stink...then again my other dogs eat horse poo, cat poo, rabbit poo and the holy grail of poos, fox poo. Anything is better than fox poo imo.

inwood is right, the puppy may start pooing inside and out of sight so she can then eat it.

Can you experiment with feeds to find one that helps harden her poo overall even when she eats it? I take it that you have tried distracting her with high value treats and she's not interested.

DesLynamsMoustache Wed 22-Jan-20 11:25:42

My working cocker went through a phase of this about the same age. She just sort of grew out of it, but we just had to supervise in garden and for a while take her out to do her business on the lead.

Rinsefirst Wed 22-Jan-20 11:52:05

When she poos in the park I've noticed she's not as concerned about eating it as she's distracted by all that's going on around. I haven't actually used high value treats for anything yet. So maybe this is what i should try next.
Can someone advise what i should be doing? When she does a poo should I try to offer her a high value treat first or try and pick it up first? Timing is everything grin
Her routine is park walk 7.30 am -9.00 am, sleep 9.00 am to 10.30 am and lead walk 1.00 pm -1.20 pm and at all other times is in the house with garden.

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pigsDOfly Wed 22-Jan-20 12:57:11

You could try putting her on her lead when she goes into the garden so she can't hide under bushes.

Don't know whether working on a strong 'leave' would help. Although, as eating poo is an instinctive behaviour it might prove she's reluctant to 'leave' it.

The fact that it is instinctive is possibly why she's less bothered about eating it out in the wide world of the park and more bothered in the garden she sees as her home.

Hopefully, she will grow out of it and unless it's actually making her ill, I think I'd be reluctant to muzzle her for this.

adaline Wed 22-Jan-20 13:09:04

I think it's pretty normal, even though it's pretty grim. Mine never ate his own poo but he's certainly partial to a little bit of sheep poo grin

I would put her on a lead when you take her to the toilet and then you can distract her and stop her from eating the poo and hopefully over time you'll break the habit.

A "leave it" command could work but you need to make sure it doesn't stop her from wanting to toilet outside. I also wouldn't recommend a muzzle as you could put her off wanting to go to the toilet in the right place if she thinks she'll be muzzled.

tabulahrasa Wed 22-Jan-20 13:15:30

Muzzle training done right shouldn’t cause any negative associations and it’s something everyone should think about doing in case it’s ever needed - that way you’re not adding an extra stress in an emergency situation....

But... they can eat through them, so all you’re doing is adding an extra layer to clean...

Thedeadwood Wed 22-Jan-20 13:20:18

I would also try a lead when going in the garden so you can get straight to it and high praise and treat to distract and reward for not eating it.

What are you feeding her? In my experience poo eating issues often stem from poor quality food.

There is one other thing that massively sticks out to me from your post though. You say about walking her
park walk 7.30 am -9.00 am and lead walk 1.00 pm -1.20 pm

You are overwalking a 20 week old dog which could lead to joint problems etc. The general guidelines are: a ratio of five minutes exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is fully grown, i.e. 15 minutes (up to twice a day) when three months old, 20 minutes when four months old etc. Once they are fully grown, they can go out for much longer. So your pup ideally should be getting two walks of 25 minutes and not and hour and half AND another 20 mins.

lettersbyowl Wed 22-Jan-20 13:30:16

I really wouldn't consider a muzzle until you've tried rewards first. Keep her on a lead if needed, but give her loads of praise for doing a poo and give her a lovely treat to distract her while you swiftly pick it up.

FrangipaniBlue Wed 22-Jan-20 13:54:36

I read somewhere on here about giving them pineapple to eat as it makes their pop taste funny.

I was a bit hmm but then randomly at the weekend I was talking to someone at the weekend who said they tried it and it worked!!

His too was a pup eating its own and the other family dogs poo. He fed them both little bits of pineapple as tears over about 2 weeks and the poo eating stopped. Even when he stopped giving them pineapple it seemed to have cured the poo eating for good!

FrangipaniBlue Wed 22-Jan-20 13:55:37

OMG that post was shocking, but you get my drift!

Booboostwo Wed 22-Jan-20 14:28:55

Thedeadwood the idea that dogs that eat poo must be deficient in something is a natural conclusion to come to but studies have never succeeding in finding any correlation between poo eating and nutritional deficiencies.

For what it’s worth there is no evidence for the 5 minute per month walking rule either, even though it is very wide spread advice. There was a thread in this very recently. The only study anyone linked to was a study of giant breeds who should avoid stairs when they are puppies.

Rinsefirst Wed 22-Jan-20 14:50:28

Thanks all, these are very helpful.
I really don’t want to progress to a muzzle- grin at extra layer to clean
Des, boo, pig, adaline I can easily put her on the long trail lead in the garden and do a swift better value reward at poo. I think part of problem is that I have a torch in one hand as it’s so flaming dark and wet (Scotland)
We tried pineapple and courgette when she was about 11 -13 weeks but neither was any good. My senior dog is still an occasional poi muncher - horse, dog, fox etc so may be a negative influence. (He’s not quick enough to eat hers as we are ALL racing to get to it first grin)
She’s on eukanuba medium puppy and I give her the occasional half a scrambled egg.
Re exercise- I followed the 5 minute rule up until she was 4 months but she was bored stiff . I asked my vet and dog trainer and they said the park walk in the morning was fine as it was almost all off lead and was on soft ground. Just not to throw balls for longer than 10 mins or do all tarmac lead walk.

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pigsDOfly Wed 22-Jan-20 15:08:06

What you need OP is a head torch, either that or grow another hand, that way you can have both hands free to wrangle dog, lead and poo grin

My dog, when she was a puppy, used to eat my two cats' poo - we had littler trays at that point as cats were very old and didn't want to go outside any more to poo.

Use to make me feel quite sick. She'll still try to pick up cat poo if she manages to find any on grass when we're out envy not envy.

Aloe6 Wed 22-Jan-20 16:10:27

This is such a gross habit. I asked my vet about it and he said it’s natural instinct. 🤢

I’ve taught a strong ‘leave it’ command which most of the time stops them from snaffling it.

Rinsefirst Wed 22-Jan-20 18:15:36

Going to get a beanie hat with a light on it as that will also keep me warm grin.
Will look at strong leave command on YouTube tonight so I can try it on park walk.
Pig and Aloe, yes it has made me wretch sometimes [sick] . Thank goodness it is getting darker later and lighter earlier

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Onthetrain75 Wed 22-Jan-20 18:29:25

Please do not muzzle her at this age. Get a longer lead, get your coat and torch. Take her out on her lead with some treats. When she poos, lots of praise, call her to you, pull her in straight away if needs be. Reward her with small but v tasty treat. Collect poo in bag.

Continue doing this. Keep up all her other training. Hopefully she will associate doing her poo with a reward from you.

She needs lots of mental stimulation so your other training is super important. Hide her ball, get her to find it in the house/garden/park. I’m afraid you’re going to have to put the hours in but that’s a smart working dog for you I’m afraid!

Rinsefirst Wed 22-Jan-20 20:33:25

Onthetrain - that’s exactly what I will do. It’s just tweaking what I’ve been doing but with a firmer focus. I spend hours in my garden and it’s so badly churned but this is my window of opportunity.
Thank you all, I’m feeling a bit happier

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tabulahrasa Wed 22-Jan-20 23:52:08

“My dog, when she was a puppy, used to eat my two cats' poo”

I once had to phone the out of hours vet to go...

My cat had chlorambucil about 12 hours ago, we’re not supposed to come into contact with any body fluids or waste for 7 days because she’s radioactive...my puppy has just eaten out of the litter tray... I mean he seems fine, fairly pleased with himself in fact, but should I be rushing him to you or what? confusedhmm

Rinsefirst Thu 23-Jan-20 11:52:10

@tabulahrasa we’re not at that stage grin

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sillysmiles Thu 23-Jan-20 12:16:43

I saw a talk by a trainer of assistance dogs and they teach a really strong leave command - and use that to get the dogs to leave their own and other dogs poo alone.
Might be worth a try if she is generally quick witted.

Nixee2231 Fri 24-Jan-20 00:35:05

If she eats her own poo, she might start eating other dogs' as well, which is when it becomes a real problem because he can get very sick from it. I would nip it in the bud before it gets to that point because it will be harder to train him out of it then.

We tried everything with our little poop-eater, and after a horrible 3 month long bout of giardia infection, we started muzzling him as a last resort and it worked wonders.

The point is not to keep him muzzled forever but to do it during those times when you don't have the time/patience etc to catch him in time, or when it's too dark to see the poop on the ground. That way you can safely start training him to stop and if he does well and as you gain confidence, you can train longer and more often, until he doesn't need the muzzle anymore.

At least that's what we did and it worked perfectly, it did take a few months though until we could be 100% sure we didn't have to watch him like a hawk anymore.

As far as the training goes, in the beginning we distracted him with extra special treats before he was anywhere near the poop. As long as he kept doing well, we gave him more freedom so by the end of it he could go sniff the poop but would get a treat when he came back after us calling him.

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