3 min read


Why Do Dogs Go Through Trash



3 min read


Why Do Dogs Go Through Trash




After a long day at work, you come home ready to relax at home with your dog. When you walk in the house, you are surprised by banana peels, wrappers, shredded paper towels, and empty containers all over your kitchen floor. Your dog looks at you, hoping you are not upset that he raided your trash can. With his guilty eyes, it makes it hard for you to be angry. Your dog was looking for something, and in his search, he may have been endangering his own health. As owners, we need to help our dogs stay healthy, happy, and well-behaved.

The Root of the Behavior

Trash cans are filled with a wide variety of goods, from empty wrappers to toxic items. Your trash is trash for a reason, and if you are not going to eat the goods in your waste, neither should your dog. Their health is a strong priority and if they are going through your trash, there is a good reason for it. Historically, experts have come across the concept that dogs derived from wolves. Wolves may have scavenged villages for leftover food and scraps for survival. This genetic tendency may be a reason why your dog is going through your trash; yet, if they are well-fed and cared for, this should not be a tendency that plays out often. To your dog, anything and everything in your trash will smell delicious and could be a potential snack. When your dog digs through your trash, it is like a game. Every smell in the garbage is unique to their senses. When they are digging through the waste, they are looking for the golden ticket. Their senses tell them that there is a prize in the trash, and they are determined to find it. Each trash item is also a chew toy. You may find that your dog likes to chew on the different packages and tissues in your trash. This is also a way for your dog to attract attention. If they are misbehaving, they know you will give them attention. This could be because of boredom, hunger, or because they just don't know any better. It is important to understand that your dog could be putting their own health in danger. There are toxins and metals in packaging, and in food items that we eat. There are toxins and metals in packaging, and in food items that we eat. Your trash may contain foods that your dog cannot eat and toxins that your dog may overdose on. Dogs can die from this habit, and it is suggested to put a stop to it sooner, rather than later.

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Encouraging the Behavior

Scavenging through the trash can be a detrimental behavior for your dog if they choose to eat or chew on any harmful products. It is highly recommended to not encourage your dog to dig through your trash for goods. You may want to teach your pet that this behavior is not tolerated in your household. If this is a common issue for your dog, there are ways to re-train your pet. Just as you potty train your dog with praise and treats, you can do the same technique with the trash can. If they are constantly getting into the trash, you may need to use this technique and adjust their lifestyle. Another recommendation is hiding the trash can. If you feel like you need your trash in a hidden spot, you can put your waste-basket under the sink in the kitchen, or in a cabinet where your dog cannot knock it over and get into it. This can make all the difference in the world because your dog will not be tempted in any capacity. The best advice is to encourage your dog to chew, eat, and focus their attention on healthy activities that they enjoy, so everyone is happy.

Other Solutions and Considerations

Trash scavenging is not an issue with every dog. Your dog will go through your waste if it is tempting and if they need something in it. You may want to evaluate your dog’s food if you feel their nutrition is an issue. It is suggested to feed your dog with the proper nutrients. Another suggestion is to set boundaries within your household for your dog. You can add a baby gate or a crate that blocks your dog off from being near the trash can and your dog will then know that they are not allowed near the trash can.


Dogs love to explore this world. It is a part of their nature, and we should allow it. Yet, we shouldn't allow our dogs to get into the trash. Although it can be an exciting experience, it can also be a toxic one. As owners, we must keep our pets healthy, happy, and well - behaved.

By a Golden Retriever lover Erika Seidel

Published: 02/13/2018, edited: 01/30/2020

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