We frequently see puppies and adult dogs for upset tummies. This can manifest as diarrhoea (right from just soft stool to watery), and/or vomiting, and/or loss of appetite. There are many possible causes for upset tummies but dietary indiscretion is common. In other words your pup ate something from the backyard, from a rubbish bin, on a walk and you may not even have seen this.
Dietary indiscretion includes eating poop. This could be their own, or a cat, rabbit, another dog or any other species. They also eat rubbish people dump. Or lick up puddle ‘mud shakes’ directly or from licking paws after a walk.
Dogs are like family to us. We let them sleep on our beds, snuggle on the couch and lick our faces up and down even when you know where that tongue has been. This is partially why it is all the more disturbing to know this is common.
Pups and dogs are exposed in parasites like hookworm, roundworm and whip worm. They can pickup giardia, salmonella, campylobacter, E coli and much more. Not only are they dangerous to our pets, they are also dangerous to us.
The bottom line is that your best bet is prevention. This takes extra time and work, and the use of a flashlight or headlamp once the sun goes down. It is convenient and easy to let the dogs into the back yard on their own, but if you really want to stop this behavior you will need to leash walk or accompany them outside. That way you can pick up any poop immediately and dispose of it. While I admit it’s a bit of a nuisance to get up earlier and accompany the dogs on all their potty outings, particularly when it’s below zero, but any inconvenience is far outweighed by the reduced health risks and the perk of no longer having to deal with poop breath!
‘Leave it’ comes in handy not only for poop, but any number of other items you don’t want your dog to pick up, such as dead animals, a pill you dropped, toxic foods and toys. As you are going through training, keep small – thumbnail - size treats in your pocket at all times, so you can consistently reward good behavior. Lots and lots and lots of positive reinforcement and praise for obeying is critical.