Petsource

Kitty Cookies

Question From Sharon

How do you keep a puppy from eating cat manure? We live in the country and we have cats and we have a new puppy. The cats are mostly outdoors and potty outside. The puppy gets turned out to potty and run and play and sometimes he will eat cat manure. What can I do?

Thanks.

Jennifer's Answer

Hi Sharon,
I've had the best success teaching "leave it" for this type of problem. Which will entail walking outside with your puppy on leash, finding some "kitty cookies" and reinforcing him for not picking it up and eating it.

I've attached a handout on teaching "leave it". It will be a little different because I start with teaching the puppy to leave a piece of food that's in my hand (which you obviously won't want to do with cat feces), but you can modify it by putting your puppy on leash and walking up just close enough that he is trying to get it, but can't, then praise and reward when he stops trying to get it.

Important things are:
1) to try and prevent your puppy from eating the cat "cookies" by taking him outside on leash right now. Every time he gets a hold of them it will create a stronger habit of wanting to continue eating it.
2) practice the leave it exercise multiple times until you can walk him around off leash and he won't try and scarf up the kitty cookies.
3) use a treat/reward that is better/higher value than eating the kitty cookies to encourage your pup that not eating poop is better than eating it.
4) I would also recommend not using a cue when you're teaching this exercise (at least when you are doing it with the actual cat poop) because you aren't going to want to go around asking him to "leave it" all the time, you are going to want it to be a natural behavior that he does without a cue being given.