Have you ever found yourself dealing with the remnants of last night’s dinner, scattered across the kitchen floor? While this is certainly frustrating and demands an unwanted clean-up, it’s crucial to understand that when your dog raids your trash, it’s not only a nuisance but can also pose serious health risks and even potentially life-threatening situations.
For instance, your dog might come across a leftover chicken carcass and decide to chew on it. In her enthusiasm, she could inadvertently swallow a bone that gets stuck in her throat. Such a situation would not only be distressing for your pet but would also necessitate an immediate visit to the veterinarian.
To prevent such scenarios and keep your opportunistic canine companion from scavenging through the garbage, it’s essential to be proactive and commit to specific dog training strategies. Implementing proven dog behavior modification techniques can help curtail her trash-foraging habits permanently. With consistent training and guidance, you can ensure a safer and cleaner environment for both you and your pet.
Charge Your Dog for Getting Into the Trash
One way to keep your dog from rooting in the trash is to keep her far away from the bins in the first place. Some obedience training experts say a good way to do that is to set up a roadblock in front of the cans. Visit a pet supply store and pick up a special vinyl mat, such as a Scat Mat, that you can place in front of the trash can. When the mat is plugged in, it emits a weak electrical impulse, similar to a static charge. When your dog jumps on the mat, she’ll get an unpleasant but harmless shock.
The charge can be set to varying correction levels, making the mat safe for puppies and larger dogs. And the mat can be moved from place to place. The one negative aspect of one of these mats? They can cost upward of $100, but you may find that it’s worth the price.
Spray the Trash Rooter Away
A simple training tip to keep your dog away from the trash is to spray the garbage can with a commercial deterrent called Bitter Apple, which is available at most pet supply stores. One or two tastes of the bitter stuff will teach your dog that she won’t find delicious treats in that can.
Covert Training Tips Around the Trash Perimeter
Many dog trainers and other experts recommend booby trapping the trash. Booby traps are effective because they correct the canine at the exact moment of the bad behavior, so the dog learns exactly what not to do. This is a booby trap that’s effective with submissive dogs (ones that are easily corrected), but it’s best used with dogs larger than cocker spaniels.
Purchase several Snappy Trainers from a pet supply store or website. A Snappy Trainer has a mechanism like that of a mousetrap, but it won’t snap your dog’s paw or injure the animal in any way. Set the Snappy Trainers and lay them, upside down, on top of the trash in the can or on the floor in front of it. (See below for an example of where and how to place them.) When your dog tries to dig through the trash, the Snappy Trainers will go off, snapping and popping in the air. The sound and motion will send your pooch the message that trash rooting gets him nothing but a good scare.
A Snappy Trainer (A) is designed to scare a dog away from trouble —especially trouble in the form of a tempting trash can (B).
Still Have Dog Problems? Teach Her the Cancan
Here’s an expert-recommended booby trap you can make for bold, confident dogs without spending a lot of cash. For it to work, you’ll need to make eight to ten “shake cans.” (For each one, rinse and drip-dry a soda can and place about ten pennies or screws inside. Tape the can closed with some electrical or duct tape.) Get a piece of cardboard large enough to hold all the cans. Finally, you’ll need some strong thread or fishing line. Punch a hole in one end of the cardboard, then place the cardboard somewhere above the trash can—on the back of the toilet if you’re rigging the bathroom trash or on the counter near the kitchen trash.
Stack the cans, pyramid style, on the cardboard. Tie the thread or fishing line to the cardboard, threading it through the hole, then bait the line. If your dog always goes for the empty toilet paper roll, use that. If she usually goes after food, tie the line to a paper towel that you’ve used to pat dry a piece of meat. Place the baited line on top of the trash, then wait a bit. Sooner or later, your pooch will take the bait, setting off an startling cacophony of clatter. After three or four times, she’ll get tired of scaring himself and leave the trash alone.
The best booby traps are painless, but oh, the commotion they cause! To discourage a trash rooter, set a pyramid of shake cans in a precarious spot next to the trash, then link them to the garbage with fishing line.
No. 1 Rule in Dog Obedience Training
If your dog consistently finds irresistible treats such as ham bones or juicy steak leftovers each time she rummages through the trash, it will be challenging to deter her with merely a secured or booby-trapped trash can. Dogs, driven by their keen sense of smell and instinctual love for food, are likely to withstand various deterrents in pursuit of a rewarding snack.
In such cases, your best course of action may be to reevaluate your trash disposal system. Consider relocating the more enticing trash items to a secure location that is inaccessible to your dog. This could be a closet or cabinet trash can, or even an outdoor area such as a porch or garage, provided these areas are dog-proofed.
Another alternative would be to manage when and where you dispose of particularly enticing food remnants. For instance, if you let your dog out at night, ensure that appealing leftovers are stored indoors, well out of your pet’s reach. By making these strategic adjustments, you can significantly reduce the chances of your dog being lured into the trash, thus promoting healthier behavior and ensuring her safety.
Last Resort: Lock Her Out
Relocating the trash to an outdoor area like a porch may not be a feasible solution for those living in apartments or similar housing situations. A practical alternative in these instances would be to invest in a robust, dog-proof trash can that is equipped with a locking lid.
These specialized trash cans are designed to withstand attempts by pets to pry them open, effectively keeping the enticing contents out of your dog’s reach. Most home supply or pet stores carry a variety of these secure, pet-proof containers.
By choosing a trash can with these features, you not only eliminate the immediate access your dog has to the garbage but also significantly reduce the chances of her engaging in trash-foraging behavior, ensuring both her safety and a cleaner living environment for you.