After getting home from your trip to the grocery store, you walk in and find that the trashcan has been emptied and all the contents are on the floor. You clean it up and figure it was just a fluke. Then, a couple days later you arrive home and find that it has happened again. This is a daily occurrence in many homes and can cause a ton of frustration. Usually pet parents start to wonder why it’s happening. Why does this only happen when no human is home? Is it anxiety related? Is it boredom? Is your dog making a mess for attention? Let’s take a deeper look.
Separation Anxiety Pet parents often wonder if this is caused by anxiety. The thought makes sense if it’s only happening during home alone time. But the thing is, when a dog is dealing with anxiety, often the last thing on their mind is food. If a dog is very anxious about being home alone or being away from their favorite person, the only thing on their mind is trying to find a solution to get their person back. With that said, we can cross Separation Anxiety off of the list. Attention Seeking If a dog is getting into the garbage when home alone, they’re not thinking about consequences that will come later. Dogs do behaviors to get attention, but getting into the garbage when home alone isn’t one of them. A dog is only thinking about the immediate consequence when it comes to this type of behavior. We can also cross this off of the list. So what is causing this? Dogs are excellent scavengers. If a dog was homeless and wandering the streets, they’d spend the vast majority of their waking hours scavenging for things to eat. When we have dogs in our homes, even if they’re fed regular meals, it’s still tempting to go searching for things. Getting into the garbage just makes sense behaviorally. If you want to prevent this from happening, your best bet is to prevent access to the garbage can. Use a gate to block off where the garbage can is or get one of the cans that has a lock on it. On top of that, you can also give your dog something to do when you leave. (Bully sticks, Stuffed Kongs etc.)