A dog is both a predator and a scavenger, so when he smells a trash can full of goodies, the scavenger part of him kicks in. Your dog getting into the trash is not only inconvenient for you, but it can also be dangerous for your dog. At Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, we’ve put together some tips on how to help you teach your dog to stay out of the trash and how to safeguard the trash in case they do get into it.
Keeping Your Dog Safe and Out of the Trash Can
There are a few measures that you can take to not only keep your dog out of the trash but also to keep them safe if they do get into the trash can:
Never introduce people food to your dog.
Once you do, now you have a dog who enjoys something new he didn’t know previously existed, so when he smells it, he will be begging for you for more or will go to get it out of the trash can.
Don’t put anything dangerous in a trash can.
Items like cooked chicken bones, coffee grounds or tin cans (they can get their nose stuck in) are dangerous and can cause injury or sickness in your dog. Rather than throwing these items away indoors, take them directly outside to your big trash can to dispose of them.
Teach them a command called “leave it.”
We recommend practicing this command with things the dog can never have. Do not use their toys, food, or treats for this training.
The way we train the dogs at Guardian Angels to “leave it” is we’ll put an old, smelly people food item in a plastic bag and drop it on the floor. The dog will look at it and process it. He can touch it or sniff it, but he cannot pick it up or lick it. This is not allowed. If they start to lick it or pick it up, we immediately say “leave it”, they typically look at us and we immediately reward them with one of their own treats. You need to redirect the behavior into something they can understand and be rewarded for.
You also must be observing your dog, so the first time it goes into the kitchen or the bathroom and starts to get into a trash can, you can tell them to “leave it.” For a lot of dogs, that will be enough for long term success, but you must catch them in the act, otherwise the message is not properly executed by the human and therefore not understood by the dog.
As an additional safeguard, people should consider trash cans with lids because those will be harder for a dog to get into.
Want to Learn More About Dog Training?
We’re happy to answer your questions about how we train our service dogs to help those in need. Contact us today to learn more!
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