Could composting stop your dog from getting into the trash?

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One of the most common training goals I hear from people is to help stop their dog from getting into the trash can. Dogs are natural scavengers and we know they have powerful sniffers. “Put another way, dogs can detect some odors in parts per trillion. What does that mean in terms we might understand? Well, in her book Inside of a Dog, Alexandra Horowitz, a dog-cognition researcher at Barnard College, writes that while we might notice if our coffee has had a teaspoon of sugar added to it, a dog could detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water, or two Olympic-sized pools worth. Another dog scientist likened their ability to catching a whiff of one rotten apple in two million barrels.” (

So it’s no wonder they pop their heads into our waste bin’s for food wrappers, scraps and stinky bits. The sure way to keep your dog from getting into the trash is to keep it from becoming a learned behavior. At Good Dog Training we say, “Dogs Do What Works” so if this becomes a self rewarding behavior… it WILL be repeated. No amount of “dog shaming” meme’s are going to solve this problem.

Ready let’s fix it.

Step 1- Buy a trash can with a closing lid, duh. You cannot have an open trash can and a dog, you pick. I choose dog. Keep the availability to pick through the garbage at a minimum. Now if you toss stinky food garbage in this can, think of it like a fancy feeder puzzle toy for your scavenger to problem solve a way to get in there.

Step 2- Don’t put food waste in your garbage. If you don’t want to actually compost in your apartment or house have a separate small container for food waste. We have an old yogurt container that we put food garbage in. It seals, it is not see through and we put it in our fridge. When it’s time to take out the trash, I dump it in the garbage and take it out all in one chore, then I put it in the dishwasher. Clean and effective. This way the garbage never smells of last nights salmon skin and the dogs have little to no interest in a can full of normal trash bits. That’s it, two steps and you have solved this problem behavior. Simple stuff, right?

*If your dog is getting into the trash to shred paper and cardboard and is not after food you simply have to keep this from happening. Put the trash away and keep him from practicing the behavior. It will fizzle out, if he is doing it when your home it is most likely to get a rise out of you. If he does it while your away, it is to alleviate boredom. Give him something more fun to do while you’re away like a slow feeder treat or bully stick.

Composting has so many benefits on an environmental global level right down to helping you train your dog. Maybe it’s time you check to see if your area is eligible to drop off a compost bin. Here is the link for Denver, click here.