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Including toys that can put them off the scent
Need to know how to stop your dog raiding the bin? It's a common habit in dogs and, besides making a mess, can potentially cause your pet harm if they come into contact with something dangerous or toxic in the bin.
Dr James Greenwood is the resident vet on BBC One’s Morning Live. As the owner of his own one-eyed Labrador called Oliver, James also knows a thing or two about bin-raiding behaviours. It is in fact a very common issue in Labradors.
“When it comes to dog personality traits, Labradors are great at spotting an opportunity!” he says. “The very first time they raid a bin, they make the association that their action leads to something really exciting as a reward – the bin contents! So, in their minds it makes perfect sense to check the bin daily for any new goodies. They’ll usually do this when you’re not around, not because they’re purposefully trying to ruin anyone’s day, but more because they’ve done it once, and it was great fun and so why not do it again?!”
So what does James suggest we do to stop curious Labradors and other dog breeds raiding the bin and how dangerous is it? Here are his tips:
When it comes to dogs getting their heads and mouths into a bin, there are two risks to consider: your dog coming into contact with potentially dangerous or toxic items in the bin and weight gain caused by overeating. This is what James has to say on both of those issues:
Be aware of toxic items in your bin
“Bin contents such as onion peelings, cooked bones or any food that has turned mouldy can be potentially extremely hazardous (even fatal) to any breed of dog," says James. Bins that likely contain such items should be even more carefully secured and monitored for dog break-ins. If you think your dog has eaten something harmful, monitor their symptoms and behaviour and contact a vet if you are concerned. In the meantime, get in the know with these helpful guides:
Undoing the damage of weight gain
A dog becoming overweight is another problem. In fact, when it comes to Labradors, a recent study even showed some have a genetic link that predisposes them to overeating and therefore gaining fat. But rather than using this as excuse, James says it's important owners see it as motivation to keep their dogs healthy:
“Carrying extra weight can lead to cardiovascular, joint, respiratory or hormonal conditions as well as diabetes and even cancer so it’s very important owners take the problem seriously.”
Luckily he explains the solution is straight forward: “Portion control is absolutely key – use the kitchen scales to weigh out each meal and take into consideration the calories offered as treats for training or for keeping our dogs settled. You should also make sure your dog is well exercised at the level it’s capable of.”
1. Firstly, find out why your dog eats from the bin? Look at their surroundings
James says the secret to keeping your dog away from the bin is first to pay attention to what might be attracting them in the first place. “Are they hungry? Can they smell something enticing?" asks James.
"Think of ways to avoid the temptation in the first place by keeping bins locked and secure, behind a cupboard door or in a different room to where your [dog] spends their time.” Try these tips:
James suggests giving your dog other things to keep them entertained. “If you don’t provide them with environmental enrichment, they’ll create their own way to stay entertained, which is often then misinterpreted by us as owners as being ‘naughty’ or as ‘bad behaviour’,” he explains.
“Labradors love sniffing, tearing things up, chewing and exploring. By purposefully redirecting their naturally inquisitive nature away from the bin and onto something you’re happy for them to root through, like a puzzle mat or a stuffed Kong, you will suddenly have made the bin seem a lot less exciting in comparison!
Here are the 12 best dog toys for 2021 to help keep boredom at bay.
For more tips, information and advice about Labradors buy the September issue of Country Living magazine, out on 28th August. Or you can subscribe here so you never miss an issue.
To learn more about James and his work follow him on Instagram @drjgreenwood.
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