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Coprophagia… when poop is a delicacy

Coprophagia… when poop is a delicacy

Chantal Mills No Comments

crotteAccording to Wikipedia, Coprophagia  is the consumption of feces.  Coprophagy refers to many kinds of feces eating, including eating feces of other species (heterospecifics), of other individuals (allocoprophagy), or its own (autocoprophagy) Some animal species eat feces as a normal behavior; other species may not normally consume feces but do so under very unusual conditions.

Ok. That’s disgusting. Why do dogs do this?

Thcrottemonsieure reality is that from a dog’s point of view, dining on a Crotte Madame or a more traditional Crotte Monsieur just isn’t as revolting as it is to us. Not all dogs do it and I count myself quite lucky to have never owned a poop eating, face licking pooch. I have, however, worked with many dogs that do find it terribly appealing. One in particular would run up to any defecating dog and indulge in snurding (snacking on turds… yeah, I just made that word up) before the gooey goodness even hit the ground. This dog’s great pleasure was to go to the dog park and wait for snack time, to the horror of his doggy parent, as you can imagine

The theories abound as to why some canine companions, who are well fed at home, are dedicated to the poop diet.  Some say that dogs think it’s a valuable resource because humans rush to pick it up. Humans want to put a turd in a bag quickly and efficiently, therefore, said turd must be valuable. Apparently this would explain why a dog may want to eat it before we have time to claim it. I, on the other hand, am not so sure about this
whole resource guarding theory mainly because it assumes quite a high level of analysis from the dog’s perspective.

Others have theorized that dogs are drawn to it because something is missing in their diet (specifically Vitamin B).  Some dogs would, accorcrottesnackding to this theory, eat poop to compensate for a lack of certain minerals and vitamins? Seems like a crappy way to get your daily dose… but if it’s true, the fix would be pleasantly easy: just give the dog extra vitamins and minerals. It is also worth investigating if your dog is absorbing nutrients properly. If that is the case, simply adding them to his diet may not be the solution. Some folks have had luck adding enzymes that contain papain (think meat tenderizer) to their dog’s diet, to help with malabsorption issues.
pooppartySome dogs enjoy it as a frozen treat, otherwise known as Le Poopsicle. Others are cool with it at any temperature, as long as it’s not their own.  It stinks, I know, but is it dangerous? The answer, I’m afraid, is that it may be not only dangerous, but potentially fatal.  This is especially true when dogs prefer to dine on others’ dung. Dedicated poop eaters are at a higher risk of becoming infected with heartworms, hookworms, roundworms and tapeworms and of contracting parvovirus, giardia, salmonella and E. coli

If your dog is afflicted with coprophagia, you may want to visit your vet to make sure they haven’t been infected with anything and to also rule out the following health issues, which may also be motivating your dog to indulge:

  • cushing’s disease (increase of appetite)
  • thyroid disease (increase of appetite)
  • parasites
  • pica
  • malabsorption syndrome

If, like me, you have a dog who sticks to the regularly programmed dine-in option, please be mindful of others that are struggling with their coprophagic dog. The best thing we can do is pick up after our dogs. Not only is it part of being a responsible pet owner, but it helps in stopping the spread of disease. Doggy doo is not good for the environment. It’s not fertilizer – it kills grass and, if left alone, it can end up in our water supply. No one wants to step in it either. I like to consider doggy do pick up as a way to check in on my dog’s health. I know what I should be picking up and if it’s not what’s expected, it’s valuable information to have.


Try as we might, we still can’t remove all the poop from our dog’s environment. So what do we do to stop a dog from indulging? Management is always the first step in any training plan. This could mean keeping your dog on leash to prevent him from reaching the delicacy. It could also mean muzzle training your dog so that he can run around and play, but not eat anything that would be off limits. Training can also help.  A solid recall, for example, would be golden. Being able to call your dog away from a tempting snack… yes please! You could also teach your dog that turds are aversive, but that requires a lot of management and getting to the feces before (or at the same time as) your dog. If your dog has coprophagia, you are probably already scouting out the environment for brownies, but teaching your dog that they are evil, sounds like a strategy that is unrealistic and exhausting.

If you are struggling with this issue, we can help. We offer a Total Recall class, private lessons, and we also have a (free) lending library stocked up with great resources.



Barking Barista and the OCS

Ottawa Canine School No Comments

If you have been to the Ottawa Canine School (421 St. Laurent blvd), you may have seen Barking Barista Coffee on the shelves. Barking Barista is co-owned by Matthew Ellis and Chantal Mills, husband and wife team behind the brand. Chantal is also the owner and head trainer of the Ottawa Canine School, which is why it came to be that part of proceeds from the coffee sales goes to help dogs in need. You can read more about the story and people behind Barking Barista Coffee Roasters here.

Just this past Saturday, the Barking Baristas had the pleasure of hand delivering a special donation to the lovely folks of the Ottawa Dog rescue. . “Donation time always gets us a bit giddy, as not only do we want to craft the best, most delicious cup of coffee but we also have an unstoppable drive to help animals in need. Hand delivering a donation is our biggest reinforcer. It’s why we care so much about every part of the coffee roasting process. It is what fuels the drive… that, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.” – Chantal


Andrea Valois, President and Co-Founder of The Ottawa Dog Rescue (pictured here with puppy mill survivor Chanel the Chihuahua), contacted us many months ago. She had heard about our coffee from a friend of hers, who enjoyed a cup when we served it up at Etsy Made in Canada. He raved about our coffee and told her about how we help dogs.  For the last 10 months, we have been putting aside a portion of our proceeds  in support of the Ottawa Dog Rescue.




Left to right: Andrea Valois (with Chanel) Chantal Mills, Matthew Ellis. Picture taken at the Beechwood Farmer’s Market, where the Barking Baristas can be found Saturdays between 9am and 2pm.

The Ottawa Dog Rescue is a registered charity and has been in the community for 3 years now. They are an all breed, foster based, volunteer run rescue dedicated to saving abandoned, neglected & abused dogs. If you wish to donate directly to them, it’s easy peasy! You can do so directly on their website.

Here are some of their adoptable dogs… I know!!! Irresistible








Thank you to everyone who has purchased beans, hot coffee and cold brew coffee, or given us money “for the dogs”. You have helped make this happen and I can tell you that the donations are deeply appreciated.

Request support for a dog or rescue in need

If you would like the Barking Baristas to know about a dog in need, we’d love to hear from you.  Reach out and request our support, or request coffee for your fundraiser. Find out more about how we help.

Drink Coffee. Help Dogs.


Pictured: Chantal (owner of the Ottawa Canine School and co-owner of Barking Barista Coffee Roasters) holding Puppy Mill survivor Chanel

Giving cookies to dogs doesn’t work, right?

Chantal Mills one comments

When I was a so-called traditional trainer, when I first started training dogs, I really did not understand how using food in training could be as effective as what I was doing. I’ll be frank – I thought only the weak had to revert to using food.  Ah… how wrong I was!

I will NEVER say that punishment doesn’t work. I use it too. Ignoring a dog that wants your attention is punishment. Taking away an item your dog is guarding, is an example of punishment. Harsher punishment also works, and works awfully well. I know, I used it on my dog and taught others to do it with their dog. I also didn’t think I was hurting any dogs, nor did I ever consider it a problem if I made them uncomfortable in any way. In fact, I was untrained in recognizing the signs of discomfort and stress in a dog.

I continued to learn. That insatiable thirst to know more and more and more wouldn’t leave me. Though reluctant at first, I let my mind consider other ways to train a dog, and I allowed myself to consider training options that involved food. It was not easy to unlearn things I so fervently believed. It took a lot of time for me to let go of concepts and approaches that had made up the basis of how I operated. Even my dog was confused. But, I persevered. I really wanted to “get it”. My dog adapted and the changes I saw in him are what made me decide that I could not go back to what I was doing.

Today, I look for more than just compliance from my pets. That used to be the golden standard and what I used to get from my dog Everest. To get him to comply, I had to give a leash correction and I needed a prong. I don’t care about compliance any longer.  Nope. I strive for cooperation. I allow my dog to choose to engage with me and you know what? when you remove the threat of an aversive, that possibility of a correction no matter how light you make it, it is amazing how willing that animal becomes. That may be difficult for some to relate to. I expect that. Believe me, I would have scoffed at that notion 10 years ago. It may feel like you are relinquishing control. I get it. I would have thought so too a decade ago. However, today, I see that a relationship based on cooperation is not only kind and humane, but more powerful than a relationship based on avoidance.

My dog used to “talk back” to me a lot, but at least he did what I asked him to do. How is that success? I want more than a dog going through the motions just because I asked him to. Do I have all the answers? Nope. I wish. But I will never stop my quest for knowledge, I will continue learning from my mistakes, and I will strive to keep an open mind since that is what got me here in the first place.

Here is a blog entry from a fellow dog trainer that is well worth the read.

But We Don’t Give Our Kids a Cookie Every Time they Tie Their Shoes!

The Dog, The Gorilla, and the Gun

Ottawa Canine School No Comments

Here’s a good article that has some interesting things to say about the recent incident involving a child at a zoo:

The Dog, the Gorilla, and the Gun

What Does a “Force-Free” Trainer Do Anyway?

Chantal Mills No Comments

Don’t get the wrong idea! I’m a firm believer in humane and respectful training. You won’t see me giving the leash a good “pop” to get a dog’s attention, nor will you hear me tell folks that they should be the dominant one in their relationship with their dog. I used to do and say those things, but I’ve continued to attend seminars, workshops and read countless scientific based research and can no longer see the value in using intimidation and “I’m the boss” techniques in my practice. So this blog post entitled “Why I’m not a Force Free Trainer” caught my attention.  I wanted to see what the author, Sarah Reusche from Paws Abilities had to say about Force Free training and see if there was anything I could learn.
I found her entry very interesting and hope you will too.



What Every Pet Owner Needs To Know About Dog Trainers

Chantal Mills No Comments

Here’s a great little list entitled ‘What Every Pet Owner Needs to Know About Dog Trainers

I really like #10 – “Just because dog training is an unregulated industry doesn’t mean that some of us are not preparing ourselves and learning to train as though it was”. That is definitely our approach at the Ottawa Canine School! I strongly believe in continued education. It was crucial to my former career, and still is now.

Stop, look and listen!

Chantal Mills No Comments

Sharing a blog post that I found most interesting. What if your dog runs out into traffic?


Why do dogs hump?

Chantal Mills No Comments

Our latest YouTube video, in case you missed it!

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