ASK DR. CHIP - MAY EDITION

Want to be featured in next month’s newsletter? Email our very own Dr. Chip at info@petsplusus.com and make sure you reference ‘Ask Dr. Chip’ in the subject line.

*Please note, that this is page is not intended to address pet emergencies, but rather general pet questions. If your pet is currently experiencing symptoms of an illness or has had an accident, please visit your regular veterinary practice if open, or your nearest veterinary emergency clinic for assistance. 

About Dr. Chip

Dr. Chip Coombs is Pets Plus Us’ Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), and has practiced veterinary medicine since 1976, initially in the United Kingdom, then in Western Canada and, finally, in Toronto, where he owned a multi-veterinarian practice for 33 years.


Question:

Dr. Chip,

How do I get my 5-month-old puppy to stop barking and eating our other dog’s feces?

I tried feeding the older dog puppy food, but he still goes straight to the poop when they go.

Regards, 

Scarlet

Answer:

Hi Scarlett,

As far as the barking goes, that is a complex topic and beyond the scope of a "quick" answer. It depends upon the breed of your puppy, the trigger factors that induce the barking and how you have responded up to now. It is also far easier to have a two-way conversation to be most effective and for this I would suggest having a conversation with your veterinarian on the next vaccine visit. There are many behavioural techniques and  training aids that are very effective, i.e. citronella collars and vibration collars. The one aspect of any behavioural training that is very important is 100% consistency between all family members when dealing with the behavioural issue- in this case, barking.

The poop eating is a little easier to deal with in most cases. There are products that you can get from your veterinarian to add to the older dog's food that imparts a horrific taste to the faeces, but it was never that successful in my experience. The key is to allow the behaviour to "extinguish" and by that, I mean disappear. Every time the younger pup eats the older dog's poop (often due to territorial reasons), it reinforces the behaviour. Hence, if one can prevent the act of eating the pop from taking place, then the desire to eat will slowly wane in its own. If you clean up ALL the poop the instant it hits the ground, then there will be no poop to eat and the behaviour should disappear over a few weeks, or months in difficult cases. This can be a challenge because it means that instead of turning both dogs loose outside to "do their business", you have to be out there with them on clean up duty, poop bag at the ready. This isn't so bad on a gorgeous day, but when its cold and raining, it's not much fun. However, one has to do this 100% of the time in order to be effective and in the vast majority of times it will work. Remember that if you lapse, any time the younger pup eats the older dog's poop will bring back the behaviour. If it is impossible for you to be there every time, then I would use a soft muzzle on the younger one for those occasions which prevents him from opening his mouth and eating the poop. In very challenging cases, the remote vibration collar mentioned for the barking can also be very effective.

Hope this helps,

Dr. Chip