No one likes when their dog eats feces; whether it’s their own or another pet’s. Not only is it unsanitary, but it’s extremely embarrassing when your guests catch your dog in the act. If this is a problem you experience at home, there are ways of keeping your dog out of the litter box:
Understanding the Problem
Many dogs will eat their own or other animals’ feces. It is a rather regular act for puppies and even for some adults that don’t grow out of it. Training your dog not to do this can be extremely difficult as they can engage in this ritual for a number of reasons. It can be a compulsive action, due to boredom, or because they are lacking nutrient values and are trying to supplement it.
How It Affects Your Cat
Not only is this potentially unhealthy and a bad habit for the dog, but this also has a negative impact on the cat as well. Litter boxes are sacred areas to your cat and are often where they feel comfortable and safe. If they catch your dog simply return to a messed up litter box, they will not be as fond of their litter box and may be less likely to use it.
This is the last thing you want if you are experiencing an issue with your dog eating cat feces, as you’ll have feces all over the home and no longer in the litter box. Therefore, controlling your dog’s habit of eating your cat’s feces is not only important for the health and well-being of your dog, but your cat as well.
Find the Reason
The first step should be taking your dog to the vet to see what the root cause of the problem is. If your dog is experiencing deficiencies in their diet and nutrient intake, there is a good chance they are eating cat feces in order to make up for this. By fixing your dog’s diet, you can increase their nutrients and make sure that they are getting everything they need, which should deter them from eating your cat’s feces.
If their diet is not to blame, you can try to determine whether or not it’s a compulsive behavior or is simply out of boredom. Finding the root of the problem is the best way to properly approach solutions to the problem.
One of the biggest mistakes is that owners think that they can make adjustments to the environment only and that the dog will automatically learn not to eat the cat feces. In reality, you will need to train your dog not to do this. Just with anything, training your dog not to eat feces should be the first step, as well as one that you regularly and consistently enforce. As with anything, use operant conditioning to train your dog, rewarding them with a positive stimulus when they do something you want and removing a positive stimulus when they don’t do what you want to reinforce their patterns.
One of the best approaches is to monitor the accessibility of the litter box to your dog. Your dog is likely larger and less nimble than your cat, so putting the litter box somewhere where your dog can’t reach it may be the best way to do this. Consider using a gated area to block off the dogs access to a room. When doing this, it is important that you don’t move the litter box to the point where it negatively impacts the cat and makes it unappealing. Instead, try to work out a way that benefits both parties.
By making sure you are consistent with training your dog, you should be able to negate the problem. Be sure to examine the circumstances and try to understand what motivates the behavior in order to come up with the best solutions!