Shih Tzus are adorable and affectionate companion dogs known for their long, flowing coats and friendly personalities. However, one peculiar behavior that can be quite concerning to their owners is the tendency of some Shih Tzus to eat poop. This behavior, known as coprophagia, can be perplexing and even distressing for dog owners. In this article, we will explore some possible reasons why Shih Tzus engage in this behavior and provide insights into how to address it.
One theory suggests that the inclination to eat feces may have roots in the ancestral instincts of dogs. In the wild, canines would consume the feces of other animals as a means to obtain essential nutrients that might have been missed during digestion. While domesticated Shih Tzus no longer rely on this behavior for survival, it is possible that remnants of this instinct remain.
2. Nutritional Deficiencies
Another possible reason for coprophagia in Shih Tzus is nutritional deficiencies. If a dog’s diet lacks certain essential nutrients, they may be compelled to seek them out in alternative sources, including feces. It is crucial to ensure that your Shih Tzu is receiving a balanced and nutritious diet to prevent any potential deficiencies.
3. Boredom or attention-seeking
Shih Tzus are social dogs that thrive on companionship and mental stimulation. When left alone for extended periods or not provided with enough mental and physical exercise, they may resort to engaging in undesirable behaviors, such as eating poop, as a way to alleviate boredom or seek attention from their owners.
4. Stress or Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can manifest in various ways in dogs, and coprophagia can be one of them. Changes in the environment, separation anxiety, or even medical conditions can contribute to heightened stress levels in Shih Tzus. If your dog’s coprophagia is accompanied by other signs of stress or anxiety, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian to address the underlying causes.
5. Learned Behavior
Shih Tzus are highly observant and can learn behaviors by watching other dogs or even their owners. If they see other dogs engaging in coprophagia or receive attention when exhibiting this behavior themselves, they may be more likely to repeat it. Consistent training and redirection techniques can help discourage this learned behavior.
Addressing Coprophagia in Shih Tzus
If your Shih Tzu exhibits coprophagia, there are several steps you can take to address and discourage this behavior:
- consult a veterinarian: rule out any underlying medical conditions that may contribute to coprophagia.
- ensure a balanced diet: provide a high-quality, balanced diet to meet your dog’s nutritional needs.
- increase exercise and mental stimulation: engage your Shih Tzu in regular exercise and provide mental stimulation through interactive toys and training sessions.
- supervise outdoor time: keep a close eye on your dog during walks or outdoor playtime to prevent them from consuming feces.
- teach the “leave it” command: train your shih tzu to respond to the “leave it” command, which can be useful in redirecting their attention away from feces.
- clean up promptly: ensure that any feces in your dog’s environment are promptly removed to eliminate the opportunity for consumption.
By implementing these strategies consistently and with patience, you can help discourage coprophagia in your shih tzu and promote healthier behaviors.