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Why Do Dogs Eat Poop? Dog Expert Cesar Millan Chats with Parade Readers

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We hosted a live Facebook chat with Cesar Millan—dog behavior expert and star of Cesar Millan: Love My Pitbull, which aired on Nat Geo Wild.

Hundreds of people joined in, and Cesar answered questions about everything from how to discourage dogs from jumping on people and the mysterious reason dogs sometimes eat poop. Check out highlights from our online conversation with Cesar below (the transcript has been lightly edited for grammar and clarity) and see the whole thing here on our Facebook page.

How to Make a Dog Stop Licking

Lia M: My 3-year-old pit bull has a serious licking problem! How can I make him stop?

Cesar Millan: Hi Lia, thanks for your question! It sounds like your dog needs to be redirected from the obsession of licking. I'd suggest redirecting with a toy or a treat. There are a few good articles on redirecting on my site,

How to Train a Dog to Stay With You Without a Leash

Deborah S.: Can you tell me what you feel is the best way to train your dog to stay by you without a leash?

Cesar Millan: Hi Deborah, in order to get your dog to stay with you without a leash, you need to teach your dog to trust you. The best way to do this is through the walk where you are the leader. Of course, if you're in a busy city or an area where your dog might run off, it's safer to use a leash at all times.

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How to Discourage Dogs from Jumping on You

Facebook/Cesar Millan

We chatted with Cesar on Wednesday, April 16.

Rhonda M.: How do you discourage a dog from jumping on you? The dog is excited when I arrive and I try to ignore her till she calms down. Any other ideas?

Cesar Millan: Hi Rhonda, well, you're doing the right thing by ignoring the behavior, but if she persists in jumping, try turning away and don't give the dog any attention. Also, be sure to only give affection when the dog is in a calm state, which will reinforce the behavior you want. Also, longer walks to expend your dog's excess energy will help.

How to Make Dogs Listen Outside the House

Jenilyn H.: Cesar, I think we are good pack leaders inside the home, but the dogs tend to not listen when we are outside. How do we gain better control of this?

Cesar Millan: Hi Jenilyn, ask yourself how your energy changes when you go outside. Since your dogs behavior changes when you go outside, there may be a shift in your own energy to pay more attention to. If you're anxious, tense, nervous, or excited, your dog will pick up on this.

How to Stop Dogs from Eating Poop

Lucy G.: I have a Shih Zu that has terrible allergies and she will not quit eating poop. Any suggestions?

Cesar Millan: Hi there Lucy, oftentimes when dogs eat poop, it's a nutritional issue. Particularly, if you feed them lower-quality dog food with filler like carbs and sugar, this gives the dog an energy spike, but then they're hungry again right away. Now since you mentioned that your dog also has terrible allergies, this probably is part of the issue and you should consult your vet to find the right diet. Your dog might be allergic to gluten or grain, which is common in lower-quality dog food.

Related: Give a Furry Friend a Forever Home: How to Adopt a Dog In Every State

How to Curb Avoidance Behavior

Carol M.: I have a 9 month old female German Shepherd who pulls away from people she does not know. Any advice?

Cesar Millan: Hi Carol, your dog is showing avoidance behavior, which is normal if you have a timid dog. But the real advice here is for the other people who should respect your dog's intimate space and practice the mantra, "No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact." Also, since your dog is a German Shepherd, activities like agility training will help your dog develop confidence.

Why Do Trained Dogs Start Going in the House?

Angel F.: Cesar, our 3-year-old pit bull has recently started having accidents in the house no matter how long we are gone ... What would cause this behavior and how can we correct it?

Cesar Millan: Hi Angel! The first thing is to have your vet check to make sure there is no physical cause such as a bladder infection. If there is no physical cause, then look at whether there have been any changes within your household, like tension or anxiety on a part of the family. Another thing to remember is if this is due to separation anxiety, the best way to treat that is to give your dog a place to be calmly while you're leaving the house. Train her to go to her place and stay, and don't make a big deal about it when you go out or in. Thanks for your kind comment about my show.

Are Dogs Happy with a "Human" Pack?

Joni M: I love your shows and what you do! Do you think dogs are happier with other dogs or can they be just as happy with humans as their only pack members? I'm wondering if my lab is depressed without having other dogs to play with because we live nowhere close to a dog park.

Cesar Millan: Hi Joni, dogs will be happy with humans or other dogs as pack members. What's important is that you make sure they're fulfilled through exercise, discipline and affection—in that order. A balanced dog will be happy wherever he or she is.

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How to Help Dogs Through another Dog's Passing

Kristen W.: Cesar, if you have two dogs, is it important that both are together when one passes?

Cesar Millan: Hi Kristen, it's important for both dogs to be there when one passes away because it will give the surviving dog a sense of closure. When a dog dies they give off a different scent, and since smell is a dog's most important sense, this will let the other dog know that his pack mate is gone. I'm sorry to hear about your dog, but remember to focus on the good times you had together. God bless you.

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How to Encourage Better Dog Behavior When You Return Home

Leann: I have a 2-and-a-half-year-old Aussie Shepherd. He has horrible behavior at the door, but only if I'm home. After dog training, I still cannot get him under control. Help!

Cesar Millan: Hi Leann, thanks for your question! It's very important to create boundaries around the doors to your home so that your dog understands that you control that space. So you need to teach the dog to associate the door with a calm, submissive state. You can begin by getting your dog to sit and stay calmly while someone knocks or rings the doorbell. Give your dog positive reinforcement only when he remains in that state. Remember, practice makes perfect, and it may take time and patience, but it'll be worth it.

Debbie B: Our boxer, Jack, barks at my husband when he comes home from work every day and bites at his ankles. What can we do to discourage this behavior? My husband goes out and plays with him, but this does not always work.

Cesar Millan: From what I'm hearing, your dog has done a great job at training your husband. The dog barks and nips, and then gets rewarded with playtime. This behavior is similar to dogs jumping on people when they enter the home. You deal with it the same way, by ignoring the misbehavior. Also, instead of giving the dog playtime, you should give him exercise through a walk, but only once he's calm.

Are Dogs Born "Good" or "Bad"?

Vi-An N.: Are dogs born "good" or "bad"? What's more important, nature or nurture?

Cesar Millan: Dogs are not born good or bad. We make them that way by the way we treat them. It's the humans that are good or bad. Unfortunately, certain breeds like pit bulls are perceived as naturally bad dogs which is just not true.

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How to Relocate with Pets

Sussan C.: Hi Cesar, what's the best advice you can give me when relocating a dog? I got married and we are moving to Peru from Los Angeles. I have a 6-year-old Shar-Pei and we are hoping he can adjust to the move.

Cesar Millan: Dogs don't have a problem adjusting to a move as long as the people don't imagine that there is going to be a problem. Although the process can be confusing to a dog, if you approach it calmly, then your dog will be more likely to perceive it as something normal.

How to Follow Through with Dog Training

Kaitlyn C.: Have you ever met any person that simply wasn't willing to do as you say or wasn't able? I've been watching your shows from the very beginning and have learned all I know about dog body language from you, but people don't want to listen when I say it's a lot of work and patience. They want a quick fix. What can I do or say?

Cesar Millan: Thank you for your comment. It always makes me happy to hear that people understand my methods and people-training. To answer the first part of your question, yes, unfortunately I have worked with people who don't follow through and so they don't see a change in their dog's behavior. These are the only cases I'm not able to help. Remember, I rehabilitate dogs, but I train people.

As far as people who don't want to take the time and effort and just want a quick fix, it's better to focus on the fundamentals of dog psychology first, and if they're consistent in their methods with the dog, then they'll see faster results. Thanks again for reaching out. It sounds like you're doing an amazing job. Keep up the great work, pack leader!

Why Do Dogs Chase and Run After Other Dogs?

Ann B.: Our dog lunges out at other dogs and runs after them, not heeding our calling, and barks ferociously at the rod iron fence. She is a Australian Cattle Dog/Border Collie mix.

Cesar Millan: Since your dog is an Australian Cattle/Border Collie mix, she probably has very strong herding instincts. This is what you're seeing in her behavior with other dogs. If you give your dog a job, particularly through herding classes, this should go a long way to reducing the behavior.

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How to Become a Dog Trainer

Kayla W.: I have some goals to become a dog trainer and want to own a business for a doggy day care. I'd like to meet you and learn from you. Any advice?

Cesar Millan: Hi Kayla, It's great to hear that you'd like have your own dog training business someday. That's the same dream that I had that brought me here to America. Now people do have the chance to meet and train with me through my Fundamentals of Dog Behavior and Training I course. You can learn more about that here.

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