Dogs love to chew and eat loads of disgusting things they find, and rabbit poop droppings are no exception! Most dog owners who own rabbits or walk in their habitat with their dogs will have experienced the nasty habit from time to time. But what exactly can you do to stop your dog eating rabbit poop?
I decided to ask a friend of ours who has experienced this exact problem and managed to get her dog to stop eating rabbit droppings last year.
What can I do to stop my dog eating rabbit poop?
Has this happened to you? My dog and I will be enjoying the fresh air when I notice him sniffing at what appears to be a pebble. Nothing to worry about I think, but the next thing I see him munching the ‘pebble.’ It’s not a pebble, it’s rabbit droppings! No, stop that!
Before I know it, he’s distracted by the next array of scrumptious droppings lined up for him. In a flash, he’s running off with great excitement into the distance, with me chasing after him like a crazy person.
This isn’t the ideal way to stop a dog eating rabbit poop, so I ended up looking into why my dog was doing it at first. By focusing on either medical or behavioral reasons, you can come up preventative measures. Here’s what could work for you and your dog, based on what I did and vets I spoke with.
1. Improve your dog’s diet
If a dog is nutrient deficient or hungry it will usually find a way of showing us, and that can manifest itself by eating things it believes will contain the nutrients it is missing.
Vets can recommend what brand or type of food is best suited to different breeds. Each dog has different food preferences or requirements, so be sure to find the right brand and type of food that will keep your dog healthy and sustained for longer.
If necessary, a vet might recommend feeding them human-grade protein, supplemental digestive enzymes, or probiotics to help improve a dog’s diet and overall health.
2. Use taste aversion techniques
If the rabbit droppings are on your property you can use taste aversion techniques. This simply involves putting something on the rabbit poop that your dog will hate the taste of.
For example, if you have a bottle of Tabasco sauce to hand, a few drops on the rabbit poop will soon stop your dog from eating the droppings.
Handy Hint: Here are things you can put in your dog’s food so his poop tastes too bad for him to consider eating it.
3. Use the “leave it” command
This is a very useful command to teach a dog when it comes to stop them eating rabbit poop.
Let’s say I am teaching a dog called Claude. Firstly, I will choose a room where there are no distractions for Claude and I will have a treat in my hand. I start by showing Claude the treat and then closing my hand over the treat. I allow Frodo to smell my hand and then I say “leave it.”
When he stops smelling my hand and turns, I will congratulate him on the good behavior. I will repeat this until Claude learns to leave my fist alone. Next, I will hold a treat in my hand, show it to him and say “leave it.” If Claude looks at me and stops smelling the treat, I will endorse the good behavior.
I will then practice the “leave it” command on many different things daily where I would need him to leave something alone. This can be reinforced with the command of “leave it” while playing fetch and when I decide to end the game.
This command is very helpful for many different occasions and should be done often so that a dog will easily recognize the command. Neat, right?
The “drop it” command can also be a very useful command. You can learn how to train this method with your dog in the video below.
4. Supervise a dog when outside
Yes, this can be time-consuming, but often very necessary. Especially when trying to teach a dog the “leave it” or “drop it” command, it will be very beneficial to hone this skill while accompanying them outside.
A dog is a pack animal at heart and will learn what is socially acceptable to the pack and just like a child, it will need to learn and practice the new behavior as often as possible.
5. Keep your dog busy
All dogs love human companionship and will need regular mental and physical stimulation. But most of us don’t have the time to play with our furry best friend on the lawn outside for hours on end. However, there are many fun and creative ways to keep a dog occupied.
I like to use environmentally friendly enriching toys to distract my dog. Pet stores and grocery stores often have a multitude of pet goodies to choose from, so why not keep a good stock of these in the pantry for a rainy day. Hooves, bones, or other non-plastic chew toys will be great at keeping a dog occupied.
Otherwise, there are some cheaper options too just lying around the house. Use an old pair of socks or a rope and tie a few knots in them. This will likely initiate a great game of ‘tag you’re it’ or ‘tug of war!’ – or just buy a toy on Amazon.
A tired dog is also less likely to get bored and start eating rabbit droppings. I enjoy taking my dog for walks and the occasional run, as we both end up getting exercise at the same time.
6. Keep dogs and rabbit poop apart
The most obvious tip is is to limit the interaction and shared space between dogs and rabbits. If you keep rabbits and their poop is all over the yard, remove and clean up as much of it as possible.
Keep domestic rabbits in a separate enclosure from the dogs.
If the problem is visits from wild rabbits, try to put a solid boundary around the perimeter of the garden. Erecting chicken wire that is at least 2 feet high and 8 to 10 inches stop them entering your property.
Other helpful deterrents include human or pet hair, cat litter or dried blood meal, sulfured eggs, and garlic. These can be dispersed on lawns or in garden beds. Spraying or sprinkling natural odors on plants can also deter rabbits, such as capsaicin (pepper extract), castor oil, ammonium salts, or predator urine.
Similarly, rabbit poop can be very useful for the avid gardeners, as it can be integrated into compost heaps as manure. Be sure to mix it up properly into the compost heap and to keep it out of reach from dogs. I also dilute the rabbit droppings in water to make a “compost tea” and then water plants with it for a healthy dose of nutrients.
Why dogs like rabbit poop
Dogs have a peculiar attraction to eating rabbit poop and a great finesse at discovering the tiny, dark, pebble-like droppings.
There are two types of rabbit poop you will need to stop your dog eating. One type being the hard, odorless dry pellets that we often come across and then secondly, cecotropes. These are tiny clumps of undigested food, full of nutrients that the rabbit typically consumes immediately after passing them.
However, dogs will usually come across the dry pellets.
The technical term for eating feces is known as coprophagia, and we cannot always tell why a dog will do this from one day to the next. However, we can be reasonably certain that it will be due to a variety of reasons including:
- Underfeeding or eating a poorly digestible diet.
- Digestive enzyme deficiencies.
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies and malnutrition.
- Diabetes, Cushing’s disease or thyroid disease.
- Some medications containing steroids.
- Curiosity and playfulness.
- Copying other dogs.
- Incorrect training techniques.
- Innate behaviour.
Handy Hint: If you want to understand your dog’s behavior better, please read this more detailed guide about why they like to eat rabbit droppings.
Is it safe for dogs to eat rabbit droppings
Overall, it isn’t harmful as it mainly consists of grass or hay. Sometimes a dog might feel a bit of discomfort if they eat too much and it may result in an upset tummy. This can lead to feelings of nausea and stomach pain, which may include vomiting, drooling, loss of appetite, and lethargy.
If a dog refuses to eat or drink, starts to vomit blood, and remains lethargic for more than a few hours, it will need to see a local vet immediately.
The only major concern arises when a dog consumes the actual rabbit. This can be harmful as rabbits are often hosts for tapeworms, ticks, and fleas.
We recommend that you take your dog to the vet right away if you know your dog has eaten a rabbit. Then keeping a canine on a tick and flea product is also highly recommended.
Did You Know? Dogs can get ear mites from rabbits, both domestic and wild ones.
Without being too pessimistic, dog eats rabbit poop. How to stop them doing it has challenged owners for years, and in truth, it’s never easy.
When I am out with my own dog, the best way I find to get him to stop eating rabbit poop is the distraction technique… he loves playing fetch with stick more than anything else. The moment I see him eating rabbit poop, I stop him by shouting “stick”.
Think about a similar tactic you might be able to use.
You might also like…
I regularly take my dog on walks into the countryside, and lots of disgusting things can happen. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.
- Why dogs like to roll about in fox poo
- How to get the fox poo smell out of your dog’s fur
- Why your dog loves to eat deer poop
Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/dog-brown-grass-green-sniffing-5287545/