How do I keep my dog from eating cat poop outside in the yard? ~Royallynn
Hello, and thank you for reaching out. Dogs are often attracted to cat poop because cats eat a diet rich in fats and proteins so their feces have a strong appeal to dogs. Dogs are animals who like to forage for food, so going out in the yard to hunt for kitty nuggets is not only a tasty hobby but also an entertaining way to pass time. However, dogs can get much more than a tasty treat when they’re hunting for cat feces. Veterinarians warn that eating cat poop can also cause dogs to develop pesky parasites as they ingest potential eggs found in cat feces and dirt. Once ingested, it’s just a matter of time for these parasites to hatch and lead to problems. Owners of dogs who tend to eat any kind of animal poop should frequently have their dog’s stools checked for parasites. So for sure this is a habit you want to curb!
While in a home setting, a litter box can be kept out of the way, things get more complicated in a yard, where the cat feces are scattered about and likely buried under ground. There are ultimately only a handful of options to resort to and they are mostly based on controlling access to the environment.
1) Keep your dog on leash every time he goes out in the yard. If your dog isn’t too fond of being on a short leash for his outings, you can invest in a long line. These are like long leashes measuring about 10 to 15 feet or even longer and are often used for horses. A long line gives your dog more freedom to walk around, but you also have a level of control, so when you catch your dog sniffing an area and about to dig out a treasure, you can say “leave it” and gently guide your dog away as you get ready to praise and reward him for leaving it.
2) Fence off an area of the yard with a cat proof fence and use it only for your dog. This way you can be sure that only your dog has access to it and Fluffy no longer uses that part of the yard as a toilet. This can be costly and a bit time consuming at first, but it sure pays off in peace of mind!
3) Close supervision with a solid “leave it” command. This takes time and requires loads of practice. Basically, you will have to closely supervise your dog outside and at the very first signs of him detecting poop, you will say “leave it” and call your dog to get a treat from you that is far higher in value than the best cat poop in the world. You want to train this on leash first and as your dog gets good, then you can try off leash. Keep in mind though that if your dog manages to eat cat poop when you are not watching, all your hard training will have a big set back.
4) Use Forbid for cats. This is a product that can be given to cats and it makes their feces taste horrible, so dogs are discouraged from eating them in the future. While this may seem like a good solution, consider that there are some downfalls. Your dog may resume eating cat feces the day you no longer give it to your cat and it doesn’t always work. Some dogs still like the taste. You can ask your vet if this is something you may want to try on your cats.
As seen, there is really no easy fix for this unfortunately frustrating problem. Some dog owners have such a serious problem they must muzzle their dogs when outdoors to keep them from eating the feces. Even then, the dog may try to get access and get their muzzles smeared in cat poop, something probably even more annoying than the dog eating it! Not to mention, that dogs on muzzles should always be supervised!