How to Train Your Dog to Stay Out of the Garbage

Medium
3-6 Weeks
Behavior

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.

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.

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.

The Make it Difficult Method

ribbon-method-1
Most Recommended
2 Votes
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
5
Redirect
Catch your dog in the act of sniffing the trash can and redirect him or something he can play with.
Recommend training method?

The 'Leave It' Method

ribbon-method-3
Effective
2 Votes
Step
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.
Step
2
Hide
Hide a treat in your hand and allow your dog to sniff it.
Step
3
Interest
When your dog shows interest in the treat, tell him to leave it.
Step
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.
Step
5
Move positions
Move your hidden treat to the floor and cover it with your hand.
Step
6
Command
When your dog sniffs to explore the hidden treat use the command 'leave it.'
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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
Recommend training method?

The Full and Entertained Method

ribbon-method-2
Least Recommended
1 Vote
Step
1
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Step
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.
Recommend training method?
author-img

Written by Stephanie Plummer

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

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Lucky
Hound pointer
5 Years
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Lucky
Hound pointer
5 Years

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

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1099 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

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Question
Hershey
Labrador Retriever
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Hershey
Labrador Retriever
5 Years

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.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
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.

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Question
Lilly
Black Lab - Blue Heeler
6 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Lilly
Black Lab - Blue Heeler
6 Years

Lilly gets into the garbage at night when everyone is sleeping. She knows that she’s not supposed to do it. When I get up to go downstairs she immediately starts acting guilty by hiding. When she doesn’t do anything wrong she always comes running down the stairs all happy. Even if I say who got into the garbage she lowers her head knowing what she did is wrong.
Please Help. Thank you Asana

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
257 Dog owners recommended

Hello! You will want to start out by teaching her "leave it". Leave is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone. Instructions on leave it will be at the end of this response. After about a week or so of working on the command, you can start applying the command to the trash cans. Any time she even looks at a one, you give the command leave it. Once she breaks her attention away from it, you reward her with a treat. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dog. The trash cans need to be left alone! Here are the steps for "leave it" Teaching a dog 'leave it' Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.

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Question
Mayla
German Shepherd
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Mayla
German Shepherd
4 Years

We live on an acreage and our dog which is not on a leash roams everywhere including neighbors trashcans. Could this issue of "not sticking close to home" be un-trained?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
1099 Dog owners recommended

Hrllo Yann, Right now the food in the cans is rewarding pup for wandering. You would need yo fo a lot of off-leash training as well as create an avoidance of trashcans. Check out James penrith from take the lead dog training on youtube. He has a lot of videos about basic through off leashed training, and on teaching an avoidance of something (hr typically teaches an avoidance of other animals, but the training could be applied to cans in many cases).You would need to start by teaching pup basic obedience, then intermediate, then off leash would build on that. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Meka
Black Labrador
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Meka
Black Labrador
4 Years

How can I train her to stay out of the trash and some rooms? I've researched a lot but non of it seems to work. Any help would be appreciated.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
257 Dog owners recommended

Hello! You will want to start out by teaching her "leave it". Leave is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone. Instructions on leave it will be at the end of this response. After about a week or so of working on the command, you can start applying the command to the trash cans. Any time she even looks at a one, you give the command leave it. Once she breaks her attention away from it, you reward her with a treat. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dog. The trash cans need to be left alone! Here are the steps for "leave it" Teaching a dog 'leave it' Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.

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