Last month in Spot we discussed the reasons dog eat feces (click here for article), and laid out a training plan to teach your dog to “leave it” alone for good.
If you are going to have success teaching your dog to stop eating poop it’s important that you first have a prevention plan solidly in place — then train them to do what you want (leave the poop alone).
- Proper nutrition and diet.
- Clean up after your pet immediately.
- Take dogs for walks on leash.
Week 2 Training Tools:
- A pile of dog, deer, or whatever type of poop you are trying to get your dog to leave alone!
- Your dog on leash
Step1: With your dog on leash walk up to the pile of poo, close enough so your dog notices it and far enough away that he can’t eat it. You will want to keep your dog’s leash short, about 3 feet. Once your dog notices the poop, he will probably begin straining to reach it. Do not give your “leave it” cue at this point. Stay quiet and keep a firm grip on the leash to prevent your dog from reaching the poop. As soon as he gives up and stops trying to get the poop, even if he backs away just the tiniest bit, praise and reward with a very high value treat. Repeat this until he is totally ignoring the pile.
Step 2: Once your dog is no longer even attempting to go for the poo, walk away and re-approach it. If he looks at it and then looks away, praise and reward. Eventually work to the point you can have your dog off leash or dragging it. Praise and reward often enough that your dog doesn’t dart over to the pile and eat it. You may need a Tupperware container to cover the poo quickly in case your dog tries to go for it.
The tips listed above are a shortened version of a longer, more detailed handout on how to teach your dog to Leave It. If you need more help I would recommend working with a skilled positive trainer. Please feel free to call or e-mail me and I can send you a lengthier version of the “Leave it” game.
It’s important to train in different locations (front yard, back yard, neighbors’ yard) to help your dog generalize this behavior.