You come home and your floor is scattered with empty tin cans, shredded up boxes, and food packages that have been ripped to shreds. The trash can is toppled over. Your dog sits in the middle of the mess, her eyes wide and apologetic.
As a loving dog owner, you may be tempted to let the occasional secret trash feast slide. But when your dog breaks into your trash while you’re away, she’s not only making a mess, she’s endangering her health.
Every year, far too many dogs die from eating an item from the trash they weren’t supposed to. Many of the foods and products your dog might find in the trash — such as sugarless gum, rodenticides, and metals — can be highly toxic for canines.
To keep your kitchen clean and your dog healthy, follow these tips for how to prevent your dog from eating trash when you are away.
- Keep your dog fed
This may seem obvious, but your dog will be less likely to raid the trash can for food if he is well fed. Make sure your dog doesn’t go hungry by feeding him small meals throughout the day. If he is trying to lose weight, provide him with high-fiber foods that will keep him feeling full for longer.
- Keep your dog engaged
Your dog may wander into the trash can when you are gone because she is bored. You can help to keep her out of mischief by leaving her with engaging chew toys and providing plenty of exercise when you are around.
- Be strategic with your trash can
You should purchase a trash can with a tight lid that is short enough to fit in a closed cupboard. Keep the trash can in a secure space — such as under the sink or in your pantry — and install a childproof latch on the door to prevent your pooch from nudging it open.
- Introduce baby gates and crates
If you set and consistently enforce boundaries while you are away, you may be able to ease up on these restraints. Consider setting up baby gates to keep your dog out of the kitchen, or setting him in a crate when you leave the house for prolonged periods of time.
You may be able to train your dog to stay out of the trash by teaching her that the trash can is off limits. If you see your dog nudge the trash can or cabinet, clap your hands and say “off” in a loud and strong voice. You can also move your dog away from the trash by using your body to claim the space around it, exactly like one dog would move another.
- Catch your dog in the act
You should never scold your dog for digging through the trash unless you catch him in the act — otherwise, he will not understand what he has done wrong. However, if your dog only gets into the trash when he knows you’re away, you can stay one step ahead with a bit of smart planning. You can purchase deterrent devices which trigger a loud snapping noise when it is touched. If you position the deterrent device inside your trash can, you can startle your dog whenever he touches it and teach him to stay away. However, you should avoid resorting to loud deterrent devices if your dog is skittish and prone to anxiety.
Do you have any experience teaching your dog to stay out of the trash? Share your stories and suggestions in the comments below!