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

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

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

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?
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Written by Stephanie Plummer

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

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Lucky
Labrador Retriever
9 Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Lucky
Labrador Retriever
9 Months

Well, I used the method of telling Lucky "drop it" when he's near the trash. It's weird since he's not picking up anything when I catch him, but I want to train him in advance with particularly the garbage can. To me, telling him "drop it" when he is actually going in the garbage is less effective than training in advance.

P.s. ripping my hair out from all the questions I submitted.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
879 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kien, I suggest teaching a "Leave It" command for the trash. You are correct that drop it means drop something in your mouth. There are several writers at wag and not all articles are written by me so sorry if any advice is conflicting. Check out the article that I have linked below and follow the "Leave It" method to teach leave it. That article was written to help with biting but the leave it command taught there can be taught for the trashcan too because leave it means leave that thing alone and forget about it. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite It's very important when you practice the command to practice with at least two treats, one that your dog is supposed to leave alone and a DIFFERENT treat that you reward him with. You want him to learn to never expect to get what he is leaving alone (while practicing that will be the treat that he should leave alone). I also suggest booby trapping the trashcan and putting a lid on it or putting it somewhere out of sight. Lucky is large and it will be very difficult to consistently get him to leave it alone if it's left out and open because Everytime he gets into it, the trashcan rewards him for it with food (it untrains him essentially). If you leave the trashcan out with a lid on, then you can purchase a alarm device that goes off when two magnets move apart. The noise will essentially catch him in the act when he moves the trachcan lid to get into the can. These devices are usually used for doors and windows to let you know when someone is breaking in or a toddler is going outside to a pool, so they are loud and will surprise him. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Daisy
Labrador Retriever
4 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Daisy
Labrador Retriever
4 Years

She is water crazy. Loves water even the hose. We now have a swimming pool and I would like to keep her out of it when we are not watching her. I would like to have her go in it on command only. She is obedience trained and earned CGC certificate at 11 months. Any advise on this pool matter ?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
879 Dog owners recommended

Hello Mac, I would first work on a really strong Out command - which means leave the area, then use a long leash clipped to her and let her wander near the pool. Any time she gets near the pool, command Out, then reel her in with the leash - away from the pool if she disobeys. Reward with a treat if she obeys without having to be reeled in. Out: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ For some dogs a ton of repetition of the above training will be enough to form a habit of staying out and the dog will stay out due to habit. For others, the water will be too big a motivator to disobey - especially when you aren't around, and you will need to teach an e-collar Out, practice the e-collar out the same way you did with the long leash one - telling pup Out, correcting with e-collar on her working level if she doesn't move away from it, releasing the button on the e-collar remote as soon as she starts to move away, while at the same time reeling her with the long leash to show her how to stop the correction - by moving away from the pool. Whenever she is allowed in the pool, always give a release word first, like free or in to let her know that it's okay to get in. the e-collar corrections should only be done on a high quality, water proof, e-collar that has at least 60 levels, and it should be used on her "working level" - which is the lowest level that your specific dog indicates they feel the collar on. The training is about repetition, low level corrections, and positive reinforcement - not harsh corrections when done right. When she is reliably around the pool with you present on the long leash, then let her around the pool with the leash off and hide somewhere like inside. If she gets near the pool because she doesn't think you are around (which she should know to avoid at this point in the training), correct with the e-collar from your hiding spot - that final lesson will help her learn that the rules are the same even when you are not present. When first using the e-collar, put the e-collar on her while she is standing and relaxed. Let her wear the collar around for a few days with it turned off to get used to the feel before using it. To learn how to put the collar on her, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLxB6gYsliI After a few days, spend some time finding her working level. Turn the collar (via remote) to it's lowest level and push the stimulation button twice. See if she responds to the collar at all. Look for subtle signs such as turning her head, moving her ears, biting her fur, moving away from where she was, or changing her expression. If she does not respond at all, then go up one level on the collar and when she is standing and relaxed, push the stimulation button again twice. Look for a reaction again. Repeat going up one level at a time and then testing her reaction at that level until she indicates a little bit that she can feel the collar. Here is a video showing how to do this. With a high quality collar, starting on a low setting it will probably be a minor reaction unless it simply surprises her: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM The lowest level she indicates she can feel the collar on is her working level - which is the level you will keep the collar on for training - you can go up slightly if she is ignoring the collar and getting into the water after she has already been trained not too, but start on the working level always. A high quality collar should have at least sixty levels and be something made to handle water - such as those used for hunting dogs. Check out SportDog, Dogtra, E-collar technologies, and Garmin for a few high quality brands - make sure the exact model collar part can handle water just in case. Don't use citronella - it can actually be harsher than a properly used e-collar because of how sensitive a dog's nose is and how long the scent can linger for. You can try vibration first though - some dogs find that more adverse then low level stimulation but others prefer it - most of the collar brands mentioned above will also have a vibration option on them. Again, the just the long leash might be enough - either way start there and do a ton of repetitions with that and the Out command - it needs to be practiced often enough and consistent enough that it becomes habit for pup not to go in unless invited. Always give a free, in or other release command before allowing pup in the pool so that she will learn that she normally isn't allowed in - only when told to. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Question
Bella
Rottweiler
9 Months
1 found helpful
Question
1 found helpful
Bella
Rottweiler
9 Months

To whom it may concern,
My name is Alison and my dog Bella has become unruly. She wont leave the garbage bin outside alone, and my family arent the biggest dog lovers as they want to tie her up because she spills the bin every night and i have to pick it up every morning after I give her her food.

You see Bella was given to me by my uncle as a gift when she was 4 months old. I was instructed to put her in the dog kennel whenever i would be at school and release her once i got back. She had been behaving until she started chewing on the car and that were my family had started putting pressure on me to tie her up on a yard chain. Months went by with commendable behavior until she started spilling the bin at night recently.
My family has decided to ignore my efforts to protect her from being tied up on a yard chain and are days away from tying her up.
I don't know what to do because if she doesn't change her behavior she'll be tied up and i don't want that for her. I hope you can help me.

Kind Regards
Alison(16)

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, if I am reading your message correctly, Bella is kenneled all day and then outside at night? Is she free to roam at night and that is how she gets into the garbage? At 9 months old, Bella is no doubt very energetic and will need exercise and attention. Take her on a walk before school and another one afterward. Move the garbage bin somewhere out of her reach and that will take care of that problem right away. Is it possible that Bella can sleep inside with you to keep her safe (and out of trouble - someday there may be a harmful item in the garbage that will make her sick)? She will need obedience classes to help her be the best she can be - perhaps your uncle can help you research where to take her in your area. I hope this helps. Unless you are able to spend time with her and keep her away from things like the garbage bin, she will stay unruly. You've got to work with her to train her. Here are a few tips: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-rottweiler-to-be-obedient. Good luck!

Thank you so much Miss Darlene Scott, i really appreciated your advise.

I've been training her from the day i sent the enquiry and her behavior has changed and she is a pleasure. I used the advise i had read from responses from the other users and tried them. Lo and behold they worked she isn't spilling the bin anymore.

Answering your question she is only kenneled with food, water and toys from 07:30 till 16:45 then she's released, we go for a walk and play at the dog park then go back home. Also she is free to roam the yard the whole night.

Thank you again for helping me fix my problem. Bella and I are truly grateful for your services.

With care,
Alison

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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
230 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
879 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
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
230 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
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
230 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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