Dog Eating Chicken Poop? 6 Possible Causes & How To Stop It

A cute black-and-tan dog nosing around the ground beside a flock of Rhode Island Red chickens.

Anybody with a dog knows how often they like to chew and eat things, and I mean all sorts of things.

If you keep chickens and own dogs, be prepared for the possibility of your dogs trying to eat some chicken poop. 

Why do dogs eat chicken poop? A dog may be eating chicken poop for one or a combination of reasons. They may enjoy the taste, be experiencing a nutrient deficiency, eat due to boredom or anxiety, have learned the behavior from other dogs, be seeking attention, or not be getting enough physical exercise and mental stimulation.

So, if you’ve got both chickens and dogs or are planning to have both, you need to know what the possible risks are.

Find out more about what causes the behavior, why it can be dangerous for a dog to eat chicken poop, and how to stop dogs from eating chicken poop before anything terrible happens.

Why Dogs Eat Chicken Poop – 6 Reasons

Dogs, especially puppies, are well known for using their mouths to explore their environment.

So, it’s not surprising to find dogs eating all sorts of things, like chicken poop, although it’s absolutely repulsive for dog owners to witness. 

The root of this behavior can be one or a combination of physiological and psychological issues. 

They Enjoy the Taste

One possible reason why dogs eat chicken poop is simply a matter of taste. Dog owners know how dogs like to scavenge their environment, looking for something edible.

They might have found chicken poop (let’s face it, there can be plenty of droppings if you’re raising chickens), and, as odd as it seems, chicken poop may appeal to their taste buds.

Nutrient Deficiency

Dogs may eat chicken poop because they aren’t getting enough nutrients from their regular food.

For example, if dogs don’t get enough protein or B vitamins from their diet, they’re going to find those deficient nutrients however they can.

Sometimes, that includes eating poop since many forms of feces contains undigested proteins. Your dog may have sniffed those out from the poop. 

Seeking Attention

Dogs are social beings, so expect them to seek connection and interaction from their owners. To many dogs, any form of attention, whether positive or negative, is desirable.

They may be eating chicken poop because they know that you’ll come to yell at them.

While you may think that your action is teaching or reprimanding them, the dogs may see it otherwise. 

If you only give dogs attention when they do something bad, it could reinforce the action in their mind. The next time they want your attention, they could start eating chicken poop again. 

Focus on spending plenty of positive quality time with your dog, and, as hard as it may be, ignore him when he sneaks a “treat” from the chickens.

With time, he’ll learn to seek out positive interaction instead of focusing on getting a rise out of you.

Copying the Examples of Other Dogs

Dogs are pretty clever creatures and may also be instinctive mimics. They can quickly learn things by watching and copying other dogs in the household.

Sometimes the copied behaviors are good, and other times the behaviors are bad or even disgusting, such as the case at hand.

If you have a dog that eats chicken poop, your other dogs could imitate him thinking that there is something positive to be gained. 

Boredom

For some dogs, they may be eating chicken poop because there is simply nothing else better to do.

They could have grown bored, decided to explore the world around them, saw some chicken poop and got curious, and then decided to sample it.

Unfortunately, many dogs quickly develop a taste for it, and a habit is established.

Anxiety

Another possible cause of dogs eating chicken poop is a deeper psychological issue.

Dogs experiencing separation anxiety or those living in a stressful environment develop habits as their coping mechanism.

So, if you have an anxious dog left with access to feces, he may start compulsively eating chicken poop. 

Is Chicken Poop Harmful to Dogs?

Dogs eating chicken poop may gross you out, but it’s not toxic to them. However, that doesn’t mean you can simply let them eat feces all they want.

In fact, dogs can get sick from it – not because of the chicken poop itself but from the pathogens and parasites that may exist in the feces. 

Possible health hazards associated with dogs eating chicken poop include:

  • Salmonella
  • Giardia
  • Intestinal parasites

In short, chicken poop is not poisonous to your dog but can still be harmful because it can possibly contain infectious agents that can make dogs sick. 

How To Stop a Dog From Eating Chicken Poop

A brown-and-white dog lying on the ground watching two chicken tractors.

Although it wouldn’t be the end of the world if your dog happens to eat chicken poop, you still need to try and stop this behavior. Here is a list of tips to prevent dogs from eating chicken poop.

Train Your Dogs To Stay Away From the Area

Invest time and effort to train the dog to be obedient. You can start training your dogs with basic commands like “drop it” or “leave it” while they are still young.

That way, they’ll know to leave things alone if you say so. 

Confine Your Chickens

Make things simple by putting a barrier between where you keep the chickens and where the dogs can go and explore.

Physically separating the two will ensure that the dogs don’t have any access to chicken poop and there is no risk of them feasting on those nasties. 

Provide Your Dog With More Exercise

Keeping your dog physically active makes him less likely to engage in troublesome activities like eating chicken poop.

So, ensure that your dog is physically satisfied by keeping him active for several hours a day. Remember – a tired, well-exercise dog is usually a good dog.

Provide More Mental Stimulation

Besides physical activities, keeping the dog mentally stimulated will make him less likely to be anxious and bored.

In short, spending some time keeping your dog engaged in mind-stimulating interactions or activities will make him less interested in eating chicken poop out of boredom or as a coping mechanism. 

Consult Your Vet To Ensure Diet Is Not Lacking

Ensure that your dog is getting enough of the nutrients they need, especially for growing and active dogs. Consult the vet if necessary.

Clean Up Frequently

It takes plenty of time and effort to pick up after the chickens, and it seems that they never take a break from pooping.

However, cleaning up after them regularly and maintaining proper coop hygiene will minimize the poop supply so that there’s less chance for dogs to feast. 

Alter the Taste of Chicken Poop

If your dogs happen to like the taste of chicken poop, you can ruin the taste of the poop so it becomes less appealing to eat.

One option is to spray the chicken poop with something that dogs would hate, like chili spices or lemon-based scents.

Another way is to include pineapple in the chicken’s diet since its taste and smell are repulsive to dogs.

Avoid Encouraging the Behavior

You might see it as scolding, but overreacting when you catch the dog eating chicken poop might seem like a desired result to your dog. After all, he successfully found a way to gain your attention.

(Remember that some dogs thrive on their owner’s attention, whether that’s positive interaction or not.)

So, instead of intensely reacting to their bad behavior, find other ways to keep them from eating chicken poop. Distraction techniques can work well in this situation.

Related Questions:

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass?

Eating grass is a pretty common behavior to dogs, and the reason behind it may be one or two of these:

  • Dogs eat grass to add more fiber to their diet or fill the void in their nutrition.
  • They eat grass to induce vomiting when they feel unwell.
  • Dogs eat grass as a distraction when they feel bored. 

Why Do Dogs Eat Cat Poop?

Cat poop might smell gross for you, but it may smell like cat food for your dogs. This explains why your dog is scavenging for snacks in the litter box. 

But there are other reasons why dogs eat cat poop. They may be attempting to satisfy the need to hunt and scavenge for food, or they may have a health concern, like a lack of protein in the diet.

Dogs may be drawn to the protein content of the cat feces to fill the gap in theirs. 

Conclusion

You might very well find your dog eating chicken poop one day, but don’t panic as this is a fairly common problem that happens for various reasons.

It can either be physiological, like lack of proper nutrition in the dog’s diet, lack of physical stimulation, and the appealing taste of chicken poop, or psychological reasons, such as anxiety and boredom. 

Either way, it’s essential to break the behavior. even though chicken poop is not toxic to dogs, eating chicken poop can still make them sick because of the germs and bacteria that are often found in the feces.