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Tips for Keeping your Golden Retriever Out of the Trash

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Everyone knows that dogs love to eat and the Golden Retriever is no exception. There is a difference between a dog scarfing down his dinner, however, and digging through the trash can for scraps. Not only is this behavior undesirable, but it could also be dangerous for your dog if he eats something that is toxic to dogs. Keep reading to learn more about why dogs dig through the trash and how you can stop your Golden Retriever from doing it.

Why Do Dogs Eat Out of the Trash?

There are a number of theories regarding the reason that dogs have a tendency to eat out of the trash and one of these theories is linked to the history of dogs and their domestication by humans. Most experts agree that dogs were domesticated several thousand years ago from wild wolves. Before wolves became fully domesticated into the modern dog, they would live close to human villages in hopes of scavenging food. To these wolves, the things that were regarded as trash and unfit to eat, were simply food. These instincts may still be present in the modern dog.

There is also the idea that digging in the trash is like a game for a dog – he may be following an interesting scent or looking for something to chew on. Digging in the trash can also be an attention-seeking behavior for dogs if they learn that getting into the garbage means that their owner will drop what he is doing and pay attention to him – maybe even trying to take the item away (your dog might think of this as a game of keep away). By chasing your dog around the house, you are actually reinforcing this type of behavior and giving him exactly what he wants.

Teaching Your Golden to Stay Out of the Garbage

When it comes to keeping your Golden Retriever out of the trash, there are several simple things you can do. The most obvious solution is to keep your trash can in a cupboard or pantry where your dog cannot get into it – putting a tight-fitting lid on the trash can may also do the trick. In case your dog knocks the trashcan over, the lid should remain in place so the trash doesn’t spill out. Avoid trash cans that have swinging lids because your dog can simply reach his head through the opening and he might get stuck. Smart dogs like the Golden Retriever have also been known to learn how to use the step pedal on certain types of trash cans.

In addition to taking physical steps to keep your dog out of the trash, you should also do a little bit of extra training to further curb your Golden’s trash-seeking behavior. The best way to do this is to teach your dog a “Leave It” command. Start by holding a treat in one hand and show it to your dog. When he notices it say, “Leave It,” then close your fist and turn it upside down. Your dog may try to get at the treat but wait for him to look at you or to look away – as soon as he does, say “Good” and give him the treat. Repeat this sequence until your dog consistently looks at you or away from your hand when you say “Leave it”. Once he learns this command you can work with him so he learns to follow the command in other situations such as when he starts getting into the trash.

It is important to realize that keeping your Golden Retriever out of the trash is not just a matter of curbing negative behavior – it is also about keeping your dog away from potentially dangerous foods. It may take some time to completely curb this behavior but the more you work with your dog, the more progress he will make.

Photo credit: Stanislav Duben/Bigstock

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