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How to Train Your Dog to Stay Out of the Garbage

How to Train Your Dog to Stay Out of the Garbage
Medium difficulty iconMedium
Time icon3-6 Weeks
Behavior training category iconBehavior

Introduction

Maybe you are one of those dog owners who has come home before to find a trash can lid still over your dog's head and your dog looking at you, wondering what happened to him while you were gone. If the garbage can lid has ever attacked your dog, or rather your dog would like you to believe he was attacked by a garbage can lid while you were gone, you may need to know how to teach your dog to stay out of the garbage. Things left in your garbage, including aging food, can certainly make your dog ill. Dogs who raid the garbage can while you are away can not only become sick by what they find, but it can also create quite the mess within your home. Your dog may just dump the can out right where it is, take what he wants, and then leave it alone. Other dogs tend to drag the contents of the garbage from one end of the house to another.

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Defining Tasks

An easy and simple way to keep your dog out of the garbage can is to keep your garbage can inaccessible to your dog. This is not always possible, so you may have to train your dog to stay away from the garbage altogether. Some tricks may include ensuring your dog is never bored and is entertained or resting when you are away from him. You can train your dog to stay away from the garbage if you can catch him in the act often enough. However, it might even be easier to ensure you have dog-friendly garbage cans and aren't leaving tasty temptations lying around and then telling your dog to leave them alone.

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Getting Started

To teach your dog to stay out of the garbage, you are going to need some delicious treats that he can eat. You also need time with your dog to catch him in the act. Activities for your dog to do other than rake through the garbage while you are busy or away from him will be imperative to training this as well. You can either tire him out before you leave the house or leave him with something to do to entertain himself while you are away. If your dog is used to getting in the garbage this may take some time and some patience, so be sure to be in training mode and on alert any time you were home with your dog.

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The Make it Difficult Method

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1

Garbage storage

Keep your garbage can in a place where your dog cannot access it such as in a pantry with a closed door, inside a closet, in the garage, or underneath a counter. If you have something pungent in your garbage, your dog may still be able to smell it but will not likely be able to get to it.

2

Dog-proof can

Purchase a trash can your dog will not have access to. A tall and sturdy trash can may be one your dog will not be able to knock over.

3

Safety locks

A locking lid on top of your kitchen trash will help keep your dog out. Think of doggie proofing your trash can as something very similar to baby proofing your home.

4

Don't entice

Keep a separate garbage can for your food scraps. This will keep your dog disinterested in a trash can if it only contains things like paper.

5

Redirect

Catch your dog in the act of sniffing the trash can and redirect him or something he can play with.

The 'Leave It' Method

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1

Command

Teach your dog to 'leave it' by command using treats and toys so that you can use 'leave it' for the garbage can as well. Over time, your dog will understand he is not supposed to go near the garbage can.

2

Hide

Hide a treat in your hand and allow your dog to sniff it.

3

Interest

When your dog shows interest in the treat, tell him to leave it.

4

From opposite hand

When your dog does not successfully get to the treat that is closed tightly inside your hand, offer him a treat from your opposite hand.

5

Move positions

Move your hidden treat to the floor and cover it with your hand.

6

Command

When your dog sniffs to explore the hidden treat use the command 'leave it.'

7

Attention

When your dog shifts his attention from your hand with the treat hidden underneath to you, offer him verbal praise and a treat from the opposite hand.

8

Practice

Continue the steps above until your dog fully understands the command 'leave it.' Practice these steps with other items around your house such as your garbage can.

9

Reward

When your dog takes his attention away from anything, including your garbage can, after you have used the leave it command, be sure to reward him with a special treat

The Full and Entertained Method

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Small meals

Feed your dog small meals throughout the day so when you leave your dog unattended, he has no desire to raid the garbage can because his tummy is full.

2

Exercise your dog

Keep your dog exercised before you leave for long periods of time so he is tired and resting while you are gone, instead of bored and getting into trouble in the house.

3

Toys

Offer your dog a good selection of toys with a variety of treats inside like puzzle balls or Kong toys so he has food in the form of treats and entertainment in the form of toys while you are gone.

4

Praise

When you arrive home after your dog has successfully left the garbage alone, give him lots of love and verbal praise. You could maybe take him out for a walk or to a park to play or even to the backyard to play fetch. When you come home and your dog has misbehaved, don't reward him with play time with you outside.

5

When in doubt

If you're not convinced your dog can leave the garbage can alone while you are gone, you could always crate your dog or remove the garbage can from its normal place. Placing the garbage can in the garage while you are gone or on top of the kitchen counter while you are away can keep your dog in good behavior while he is training to stay away from them all together.

By Stephanie Plummer

Published: 10/18/2017, edited: 01/08/2021

Training Questions

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Training Questions and Answers

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Lucky

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Hound pointer

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5 Years

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Question

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1 found helpful

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1 found helpful

Lucky is a wonderful dog in every single way but recently if he gets into the trash or takes food from someone he becomes very aggressive and growls, snarls and will even go after you if you get too close. He doesn’t do this with his own food or treats just when he gets into something. I am never scared of him except in these moments. I am worried it’s going to get worse and went to stop it now but unsure what to do as all the training techniques are more for dogs who do this when eating their own food. Thank you

Jan. 9, 2022

Lucky's Owner

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Caitlin Crittenden - Dog Trainer

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1133 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mariana, Typically this type of behavior involves a combination of remote collar training, safety measures like back tie leashes so pup can't charge you while practicing, if severe a basket muzzle when not training and tethered when pup isn't crated and you are home, booby trapping or closing off access to some areas like the trash can, then desensitizing pup to your approach around high value items and using a combination of the e-collar and rewards to teach pup to Drop, move away, and leave alone certain items, rewarding pup for obedience with the treats and tolerance around you. So you want to teach commands like drop it and leave it that you can practice and reward pup with things she likes, like real chicken pieces for obeying, you want pup to start getting rewarded for obeying commands like leave it around your food and when you approach after giving pup a piece of turkey or something. The remote collar and booby traps like a scat mat can be used for pup stealing things - you want pup to associate the correction mostly with the actual trash can or counter or action pup did, so its less confrontation with you there, more respect toward you in general through obedience practice, and more trust through rewarding appropriate responses from pup and obedience. This is more similar to how you would treat bone resource guarding and guarding items or living things. Because of the danger involved in this type of training and the difficulty of addressing aggression and resource guarding at this level and type, I do highly recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression and has experience teaching avoidance, counter conditioning, and remote collar training. This needs to be a careful combination of corrections and obedience command practice, and rewarding and counter conditioning, with additional training to address any underlying need for more structure or mental stimulation at home too. Some examples of this type of behavior being worked with. Always take safety measures in your case: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GF-22H8--_A https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rt5jxjTvB8k https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcWs6rRDfMQ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

Jan. 10, 2022

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Hershey

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Labrador Retriever

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5 Years

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0 found helpful

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Goes into garbage and growls or nips when you tell him no. When he is around other people (not family) he gets aggressive and barks and growls. Cannot be taken to kennel for same reason.

Jan. 12, 2021

Hershey's Owner

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Alisha Smith - Alisha S., Dog Trainer

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257 Dog owners recommended

The "leave it" command is great for teaching your dog to break his attention from whatever it is he is interested in. Other people, dogs, squirrels, cars, (your garbage) or anything potentially dangerous. Teaching your dog a few simple tricks is fun and entertaining for both you and your pet. It's best if your dog knows and can perform the basic obedience commands of sit, stay and down reliably before advancing to tricks. Most tricks are built on these commands and your dog will have learned to pay attention to you during training sessions. If your dog has any type of arthritis or degenerative joint disease, check with your veterinarian before proceeding. Even simple tricks can place stress on joints that are painful and sore. The success of training your dog relies on rewarding correct behavior. Rewards differ from dog to dog; for some it may be food and for others praise. Some dogs will do whatever you want just to have a little playtime. Find the reward that best motivates your dog to learn and work daily in 5 to 15 minute sessions. Keep itfun and end the session with a reward. If you feel yourself getting frustrated or tired, quit and try again later. The goal of teaching your dog to "leave it" is to stop her from taking something into her mouth or investigating something questionable. Dogs that have already picked up an item are given a different command of "drop it" or "give." The "leave it" command is a very valuable communication to impart to your pet. It will help her learn what is inappropriate to chew, and it may keep her from consuming something harmful or toxic. Some owners teach their pets not to accept anything offered by strangers. One method to teach your dog to "leave it" is to start by letting her play with a favorite toy for a few minutes while wearing her leash. Introduce a new item by tossing it into her field of vision. Most dogs will show some interest in the new item and will want to investigate. As she approaches, give the command "leave it." Until the command is understood, natural curiosity will prevail; so gently arrest her investigations by using the leash to keep her from advancing. Give her a reward for responding as desired and then let her play with her toy again. Repeat the exercise and use a few different items. Once she stops on hearing the command, try the exercise without the leash. Another method uses food. Place a treat in your hand. Allow the dog to sniff your hand so she knows there is a treat. Close your hand around the treat and say, "leave it." Keep your hand held out. Your dog may lick at your hand, paw at your hand, or even nudge you to try to get you to give up the goods. Don't cave in and don't repeat the command. You only need to say, "leave it" once. If you keep repeating a word, the dog will not understand that it is a command. As soon as your dog turns away, immediately praise her and give her the treat. Continue to do this exercise over and over until your dog turns away as soon as you say, "leave it." You will be happy when you can stop your dog from investigating the garbage, feces, a dead animal, or a box of mouse poison, so take the time to teach your dog to "leave it." The way to success in teaching your dog tricks is patience, practice, praise, and persistence. Every step in the right direction should be rewarded as though she has just won the lottery. Tricks are fun – learning how to do them should be fun, too.

Jan. 12, 2021


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