Does Your Dog Scour the Garbage Can?
19 November, 2013

A lot of our dogs (and even some cats!) love to dig through the garbage. We turn our backs only to find our dogs rummaging thorough the kitchen trash can.  It’s important that we train our dogs to avoid the garbage can early in their lives so they don’t think it is an extension of their food dish.

It is a natural instinct for our dogs to check out the trash can; yet while rummaging for food is a normal behavior pattern, it’s potentially dangerous.  There could be something toxic in the trash cans or something that could cause your dog to choke such as chicken bones.

Below are some tips to help you stop this behavior:

Observe your dog when he’s near the trash can.

When your dog starts to go towards the garbage can, clap your hands or shake a can of coins or even just a loud “no” will do. The loud or unsettling noise will stop your dog from misbehaving. When you have your dog’s attention, show him a dog toy and when he shows interest in it, give him praise and dog treats. With consistent reinforcement, he’ll stop going in the trash to avoid the unpleasant noise and towards the toy that you have left for him or her.

As always, positive reinforcement is the best technique for training any dog to behave as you would like.  If you consistently show them that the trash is a bad thing, but going for his toy is a good thing, your dog will learn to go to the toy.  Praise and snacks are the best way to treat your pup for the correct behavior.

Make sure that your dog isn’t hungry

Sometimes your dog will scour the trash simply because he or she is hungry.  Try to feed your dog several small meals throughout the day so he’s not hungry and tempted to go looking for food in the trash. Consult your veterinarian about the right amount of food to feed your dog every day, and divide this into three or four equal portions.

Spray a non-toxic repellant on your trash can

Try spraying a non-toxic dog repellent on the trash can. Your furry friend will dislike the smell of the repellent and will stay away from the trash.  Or try sprinkling some baking soda on top of the trash in the can. When your dog tastes the baking soda, he’ll instantly stop eating the trash and will probably run the other way.  You need to only put a small amount to get this effect.

Make sure to provide your dog with activities and stimulation

Provide your dog with a daily dose exercise and mental stimulation as your dog could be gravitating towards the trash can out of boredom.  Take your dog on walks and play games with him, such as tug-of-war and fetch. Let him run enough so he burns energy and tires himself out and is less likely to dig through the trash as he is too pooped to care.

Block your dog’s access to the trash can

Block your dog’s access to the trash can. Place the trash can up high where your dog can’t reach it or put it in a cabinet secured with a child-safety lock. Set a heavy metal lid that you dog can’t open on the trash can or block the entrance to the room with the trash can with a baby gate.

As always, it takes a little time and patience, but you can get your dog to stop scouring and becoming uninterested in the trash.

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