Commentary – Mud and Poop, Oh My!

Well, it’s that time of year again. We go from rain to ice to snow to thaw and back around again and again. And each time the weather changes, our yards look more like the face of the moon. And our hounds start behaving in ways that make us scratch our heads in puzzlement!

Paw wiping is just a part of having a dog and a muddy yard can always be fixed with a bale of hay and by reseeding in the spring. But what do you do when your hounds start eating POOP!!!

We get calls all the time at this time of year and we are never surprised. While experts disagree on the how and the why, we need to work on how to solve the problem.

Many people think it’s a behavior that goes back to ancient times. And when females give birth, they clean up after their pups. Most dogs keep their crates clean. Others say that poop is just digested food and why shouldn’t a dog be tempted? But either way, we humans believe it’s a nasty habit and it sometimes can make a dog sick or result in diarrhea.

There are products on the market that are supposed to discourage the behavior. These products claim, that if they are placed in a dog’s food, it will make the poop taste so bad that the dog will not eat it. It may work for some dogs, but not for others.

And it doesn’t help those dogs that also like to eat dirt! This is another problem that we get calls about too. There are even more theories about why dogs eat dirt, and we won’t go into them here (we risk putting ourselves to sleep!). And then there are the eaters of anything chewable like mulch, acorns, small branches, rocks, gravel, etc. These items can not only make a dog sick, but can cause blockages in the digestive system which can be life threatening.

We have found two almost “sure fire” ways to prevent opportunistic eating and it works every time. The first solution throws the problem right into the hands of the adopter. A clean yard will prevent a dog from eating anything you don’t want it to eat. And if you have multiple dogs, it helps even more because they won’t be tempted to eat each others’ feces.

Of course, the weather doesn’t always cooperate and it may take way too long to pick up every single rock, twig, etc. We highly recommend keeping feces cleaned up as often as possible because it not only cuts down on the eating, but it will keep dogs from walking through it and dragging it into the house.

The next best recommendation (and we use it here with every single dog) is to use the muzzle you are given when you adopt your greyhound. Of course, the muzzle alone won’t stop the eating because a dog can still get its tongue through the holes in the muzzle. However,you can buy a “stool cup”, a plastic cup that can be attached by zip ties, which fits on the inside of a large muzzle or on the outside of a small muzzle. The cup covers up the holes in the muzzle so the dog cannot get its tongue through it. These are very inexpensive and can solve a host of problems. Birdwell Enterprises, which makes these clever items, sells them for $3.50 each. A hound can breathe normally and go about its business but cannot get into anything (and that means anything) in your yard. The only work on your part is to remember to use the muzzle each time your dog goes out.

We are always looking for other clever ways to keep our hounds safe and happy so don’t hesitate to let us know if you have an idea!

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