If you come home to find a mess on the kitchen floor, you might be dealing with a garbage-raiding dog. The behavior stems from your pet companion's ancestors who had to scavenge to survive -- because unlike your spoiled furry friend, their meals weren't guaranteed. Aside from being messy, eating from the garbage can be dangerous. Fido might suffer gastrointestinal distress or damage. Correcting this self-rewarding behavior can be challenging, but with consistency, patience and delicious dog treats, you can accomplish a lot.
Items You Will Need:
• Can of coins or whistle
• Dog toys
• Dog treats
• Empty soda cans or commercial deterring device
• Dog repellent or baking soda
• Food-stuffed dog toy
• Child-safety locks or baby gate
Observe your dog when he's near the trash can. When he goes into it, clap your hands, shake a can of coins or blow a whistle. The loud noise will startle him so he stops misbehaving. When you have his attention, show him a dog toy, and when he shows interest in it, give him praise and dog treats. With consistent reinforcement, he'll stop going in the trash to avoid the unpleasant noise.
Feed your dog several small meals throughout the day so he's not hungry and tempted to go looking for food in the trash. Consult your veterinarian about the right amount of food to feed your dog every day, and divide this into three or four equal portions.
Booby-trap the trash can when you can't watch your dog. Build a pyramid of empty soda cans and place it on a counter directly above the trash can. Tie a piece of string to a can at the bottom of the pyramid and attach a dog treat to the other end of the sting. Hang the treat in the trash can. When your dog raids the trash and goes for the treat, the cans will fall and startle him, making him think twice about raiding the trash again. Alternatively, use a commercial dog-deterring device.
Spray dog repellent on the trash can. Your furry friend dislikes the smell of the repellent and will stay away from the trash. Alternatively, sprinkle baking soda on top of the trash in the can. When your pet companion tastes the baking soda, he'll dislike it and will stop raiding the trash.
Provide your dog with a daily dose of mental and physical stimulation. Challenge him with food-stuffed dog toys and regular obedience training. Take him on walks and play games with him, such as tug-of-war and fetch. Let him run so he burns energy and tires himself out -- and is less likely to dig through the trash out of boredom.
Work on obedience training so you can control your pet companion and keep him from misbehaving. Teach him basic commands, such as "sit" and "stay," to keep him in an area away from the trash. Teach him the "leave it" command for when you catch him eyeing the trash.
Block your dog's access to the trash can. Place the trash can up high where your dog can't reach it or put it in a cabinet secured with a child-safety lock. Set a heavy metal lid that you dog can't open on the trash can or block the entrance to the room with the trash can with a baby gate.
Warning - Avoid yelling at your dog after he's already raided the trash; he won't understand what you're angry about, as he won't be able to connect your anger with his previous trash-raiding episode. He may just end up fearing you instead.
by Kimberly Caines
Petfinder: Teaching Your Dog to "Leave It"
ASPCA: Counter Surfing and Garbage Raiding
VeterinaryPartner.com: Trash Hounds and How to Live with Them
Fitness Unleashed!; Marty Becker and Robert Kushner
Canine and Feline Behavior and Training; Linda P. Case
ASPCA: Enriching Your Dog's Life
About the Author
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.