Coprophagia is the scientific term for poop-eating. If your puppy is snacking on his, uh, feces, rest assured that it's a natural if disgusting behavior. Puppies doing this usually need a dietary adjustment. There's something in the poop he's not getting from his actual meals.
If you're familiar with human youngsters, you'll recall a stage where a kid tries to put everything he can reach and pick up in his mouth. Puppies go through a similar stage. An item your pup can reach and pick up might be his feces. If you pup does this, don't overreact. He probably won't understand why you're upset at this stage of his life. Encourage him to chew on suitable toys. Most puppies outgrow the desire to eat poop.
An older puppy, weaned for a while and eating commercial puppy food or homemade meals, might eat poop to fulfill his nutritional needs. Make sure your puppy is not getting an overload of grain in his meals -- meat should be the primary ingredient. Talk to your vet about the problem. She should recommend the right diet for your puppy that could stop his nasty habit.
Puppies need lots of attention from owners. If you are out of the house most of the day and he's left on his own, he's likely to get into stuff. That stuff includes you-know-what. If he's crated much of the time and isn't yet housebroken, that's another incentive for him to eat feces. Dogs like to keep their dens clean, and the crate becomes his den while he's in it. If you scold him for poop-eating, that's attention, even of the negative variety.
If your puppy starts eating poop on a regular basis, and the vet can't find a dietary or medical reason for it, prevention is worth a pound of cure -- or pounds of consumed dog feces. Clean up poop immediately, whether taking your puppy on walks or letting him out in the yard. Since you're probably working on housebreaking as well, praise him when he "goes," then get rid of the evidence immediately.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.