Coprophagia. That word by itself doesn't seem so bad. But what does it mean? To eat faeces.
Yes poop. This blog contains a lot of $@!#.
Consuming faecal matter is revolting to humans however there are species who rely on it e.g. rabbits (technically they eat cecotropes but still...)
There are even species who exist today, as one scenario goes, BECAUSE their ancestors eating human waste played a part in their eventual domestication. Dogs!
When your cute furry little bundle of joy was born, his/her mother licked their genital area to stimulate nerves resulting in them going to the toilet. And then she ate it.
As they grow, healthy puppies and dogs naturally do not want to toilet where they eat and sleep. If the mother doesn't keep the area clean or the breeder does not, some puppies may never learn to distinguish between the bed, dinner table and the bathroom. They may attempt to clean their own area. Dogs who aren't let out to the toilet enough get to the point where they can't hold and are forced to toilet where they are. They may learn to clean up after themselves.
Nutritional deficits in their diet can cause dogs to eat waste of other species or even their own - look at the food your dog eats, the environment they're in, what they consume, consider their body condition score and the level of activity.
Cat poo, cow poo, horse poo some dogs love it all and some have a preference; we can't tell our dogs what they value.
Here's one story to consider:
Bella's biggest motivator could be carrot, Toto could value cheese the most, Buster goes mad for poo. Now say Buster's owner makes a huge deal about this and chases Buster. Being chased is fun. Now poo is even better because there's attention AND a game involved. Next, Buster's owner manages to get the package away from Buster. Buster will try harder to keep his parcel from the thieving human next time. Now it's a high value resource that Buster will guard after all the fun of the chase...
By now you're probably wondering what can be done? If it's not a problem, then accept dogs do gross things sometimes.
If it is a problem: Gather data. When, what, monitor body language, have they always done this or is it a recent development?
If it's a sudden change - talk to your vet to rule out any underlying health concerns.
Assess their diet - is the food they consume meeting all their requirements for their life stage and activity level?
If it's an undesirable behaviour - implement management strategies, work on trade, leave it, recall, or any other incompatible activities.
Above all, if you're struggling, reach out for help!