It happens in many homes around the world. Adorable furry canine, feasting on poops; including the cats’! And you wonder why dogs do this.
The thing is, while many dog owners probably hate discussing this subject, it cannot be ignored, at least not if you intend keeping both dogs and cats together for long. The habit is unsettling to the cat and obviously unpleasant, while posing a danger to the dog and its well-being.
Keeping Your Dog Away From Your Cat's Litter Box
Understanding This Behavior
A condition described as coprophagia, puppies imitate this behavior from their mothers. To help their puppies eliminate waste, mother dogs stimulate their rears by licking it. Some scientists, on the other hand, are of the opinion that dogs who eat stools may be exhibiting primitive behaviors. This behavior they believe is traceable to wild canine species thought to eat their waste as a way of hiding their whereabouts from their encroaching predators.
What Attracts Dogs to Cat Poop Then?
Usually, a cat’s diet is high in protein, plus, they don’t always completely process their food. This makes their stool particularly irresistible to canines. While this behavior may be more common with puppies, some never outgrow it.
What Can You Do?
If you have had a cat for long, you’ll know they are quite the finicky pets. For them, the litter box is a personal space. They may become uncomfortable if they approach the box and discover litter scattered around the box area or the dog feasting on it.
This could soon make the litter box an unsafe place for them especially when your dog sticks his nose whenever he wishes or waits while they poop. In the end, it may be forced to find other toileting alternatives in places like your closet or just right in front of you. A habit that could have you constantly cleaning after it and you don’t want the extra work, do you?
If you currently have to deal with a dog that enjoys eating poop, we’ve outlined some tips to help you tackle this issue and keep your dog out of the litter box while keeping your cat happy.
Make the Poop Unappealing
One method to curb this habit in poop-loving canines is by making the poop unappealing for them. You can achieve this by including items dogs find unpleasant to the cat’s feces and litter box. This way, there’s really no motivation to go dipping their noses in the litter box,
Some unappealing items to spray include monosodium glutamate, chamomile, and pepper. From the dog’s point of view, these are uninviting and adding it to the litter box or the poop can keep them permanently away.
We have to mention that not all dogs find the taste of the aforementioned unsavory. Some do not, so you may have to keep trying and switching things to know which smell or taste eliminates the habit.
Keep the Litter Box Clean
This cannot be overemphasized; the cat’s litter box has to be kept as clean as possible at all times. Thoroughly scoop and change the litter often. Left for long, the scent attracts your dog, so clean up the poop as soon as you can. Feces should not also be left littered around, or your canine will reach for it in no time.
Reward Good Habits
The reward tactic works almost every time and on many dogs. It should also work to curb this habit. Supervise their poop session and once your dog poops or is standing around the cat’s litter box, instruct him to come and sit with you. If he complies, reward with a treat or toy.
Soon, your dog will associate good behavior with treats and will not be tempted to search for cat poop or hang around the cat’s litter box. If you haven’t already, teach it basic commands such as “leave it”, “come here” etc. This enables you to communicate your wishes easily.
If this is a habit your dog formed out of boredom, it can be easy to control. Give your bored dog something to chew on; a snack or a toy. This keeps it from seeking a messy alternative. You can check out a list of ways to keep a dog entertained here.
Reposition the Litter Box
Changing the position of your cat’s litter box can help control this habit. Instead of the usual easy-to-access areas, place the litter box on a table. You can also place on a counter just right out of reach of intrusive canines. Alternatively, you could place on a small cabinet or structure with a latch that opens wide enough for the feline.
Installing a baby gate is another way to keep canines away from the cat’s feces. It’s easy for your feline to glide through the bars of this gate or jump over, but not so for canines. You can raise the gate some more inches above the floor so the cat to slide beneath it easily instead of leaping over the gate.
Invest in a Good Litter Box
Staying on top this habit can be challenging in the long run if you live a very busy life or you find it hard keeping the dog away with other tactics. In this case, you need dog proof litter boxes. These special litter boxes are designed to keep your dog away and make your cat feel safe to do its business.
In the end, while coprophagia is a habit that must be controlled, try not to overreact when you see your dog at it. This is completely normal to most canines so they may fail to understand your reaction over the behavior. It is just the same way searching for food in the trash, eating from the floor and drinking toilet water is normal to them.
They are all part of their not-so-pleasant habits that make them what they are – canines. However, with the right precautions, training, and rewards for good behavior (positive reinforcement), your dog should outgrow the habit. But make sure you keep at these tactics until you notice significant improvements in his habits.