Yes, dogs commonly eat feces. Sometimes they eat their own, and sometimes they eat other dogs, cats, or wildlife feces. Regardless, it is still gross especially when they want to give us kisses afterward. Coprophagia is the eating of feces. Dogs of all ages can do this, but I see it most often in puppies.
There are several possible reasons why dogs can be coprophagic. A decrease in the absorption of nutrients, medical conditions that cause an increased appetite, or intestinal parasites are just a few of the medical causes. Most cases are behavioral but it’s important to rule-out medical problems before just assuming it’s a behavioral problem.
Since coprophagia is common in puppies, they may be trying to mimic their mother’s behavior when she grooms them and ingests their feces when they are very young. Also, when puppies are left unsupervised, they become curious and may want to investigate or play with feces.
There are remedies for coprophagia. First, if it’s due to a medical problem, treating the underlying condition will help resolve the coprophagia. Now if it’s due to a behavioral problem, early intervention is best so hopefully the coprophagia won’t become an ingrained habit.
The best way to get coprophagia to stop is by keeping the yard constantly cleaned up of feces and direct supervision of the puppy when they are out in the yard. Puppies can be very quick to eat feces so some owners will only take them out on a short leash so they can pick up the feces immediately. I have heard mixed reviews on taste deterrents that are out on the market. From what clients tell me, they don’t seem to deter most puppies. It’s never advised to stick a dog’s nose in the feces to try and “teach them a lesson”. That can actually have the opposite effect because it creates a great deal of owner attention.