How to Train Your Dog to Stop Eating Things Outside

Dogs are known for their curious nature and penchant for exploring the world around them, often through their mouths. While this curiosity is endearing, it can also lead to potential dangers when they decide to snack on things they find outside. This article will provide guidance on how you can train your dog to stop eating things outside, ensuring their safety and well-being.

Allowing your dog to indulge in outdoor snacking may seem harmless at first, but it can pose serious risks and health hazards. Consuming unknown substances can result in intestinal blockages, poisoning, or even life-threatening conditions. It’s crucial to address this behavior promptly to prevent any harm that may come to your furry companion.

Understanding the reasons why dogs are prone to eating things outside is an essential first step in training them to stop this behavior. Each dog has unique behavioral patterns and tendencies influenced by various factors such as breed, age, and previous experiences. By assessing these individual characteristics, you’ll gain insight into why your dog may be inclined towards outdoor munching.

In the following sections of this article, we will explore methods for establishing boundaries, teaching basic obedience commands as redirection techniques, utilizing positive reinforcement, implementing effective deterrents, building a strong recall response when tempted with outdoor treats. We will also discuss addressing underlying issues that contribute to this behavior and emphasize the significance of consistency and patience throughout the training process.

By investing time and effort into training your dog to resist the temptation of eating things outside, you not only protect them from potential dangers but also create a safer environment for their outdoor adventures. So let’s delve deeper into each aspect of this undertaking and equip ourselves with the necessary tools and knowledge to keep our beloved pets safe from harmful substances lurking in our surroundings.

The dangers of dogs eating things outside

When it comes to dogs, their curiosity and scavenging instincts can lead them to eat things they find outside. While it may seem harmless at first, there are several dangers associated with dogs eating things outdoors. It is important for dog owners to understand the potential risks and health hazards involved in order to effectively train their dogs to stop this behavior.

One of the main risks of dogs eating things outside is the possibility of ingesting toxic substances. There are numerous hazardous materials commonly found outdoors, such as pesticides, fertilizers, and even certain plants or mushrooms that can be poisonous to dogs. Ingesting these substances can lead to severe health issues or even fatal consequences for your furry friend.

Another danger is the risk of gastrointestinal obstructions. Dogs may consume objects like sticks, rocks, or even pieces of plastic when exploring outside. These foreign bodies can cause blockages in their digestive tract, leading to vomiting, abdominal pain, and even surgery in some cases. It is crucial to address this behavior promptly before it becomes a serious medical emergency.

To mitigate these risks and health hazards, dog owners must take proactive measures to prevent their dogs from eating things outside. This includes closely supervising them during outdoor activities and providing a safe and secure environment free from potential hazards. Additionally, proper training techniques should be utilized to discourage this behavior by redirecting their attention towards more appropriate activities.

  • Supervise your dog during outdoor activities
  • Create a safe environment free from potential hazards
  • Utilize training techniques to redirect their attention

By implementing these preventive measures and training methods, you can help ensure your dog’s safety and overall well-being while enjoying time outdoors together.

Assessing your dog’s behavioral patterns and tendencies

Understanding the reasons behind your dog’s tendency to eat things outside is crucial in effectively addressing this behavior. By assessing your dog’s behavioral patterns and tendencies, you can gain valuable insights into what triggers their desire to consume items outdoors. This knowledge will enable you to tailor your training approach and implement appropriate strategies to prevent them from engaging in this behavior.

One common reason why dogs eat things outside is curiosity. They are naturally curious animals and may be tempted by new smells, textures, or objects they encounter while exploring their environment. Dogs rely on their sense of smell to gather information, and sometimes this can lead them to substances or objects that are potentially harmful.

Another possible reason for this behavior is boredom or lack of mental stimulation. Dogs that do not have sufficient mental or physical exercise may resort to eating things outside as a way to alleviate their boredom or fulfill their need for stimulation. It is essential to provide your dog with plenty of opportunities for exercise, playtime, and mental enrichment to keep them engaged and prevent them from seeking out inappropriate items.

Additionally, some dogs may engage in eating things outside as a result of anxiety or stress. Just like humans, dogs can exhibit behaviors such as chewing or ingesting non-food items when they feel anxious or overwhelmed. If you suspect that anxiety might be contributing to your dog’s behavior, it is important to address the underlying causes of their anxiety and provide appropriate support through training, desensitization techniques, or professional help if needed.

To assess your dog’s behavioral patterns and tendencies related to eating things outside, observe their behavior closely during outdoor activities. Take note of any specific triggers that seem particularly enticing for them. For example, do they show more interest in certain types of objects? Are there specific locations where they are more likely to engage in this behavior? Understanding these patterns will help you develop a targeted training plan to effectively address the issue.

Establishing boundaries

Setting clear rules and boundaries for your dog is crucial in preventing them from eating things outside. By establishing these boundaries, you can effectively communicate what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Here are some steps to help you set clear rules and boundaries for your dog:

  1. Define the restricted areas: Identify specific areas or objects outside that you want to prevent your dog from accessing or interacting with. These could include gardens, trash cans, or any other potentially harmful items.
  2. Use physical barriers: Install fences or gates to block off access to restricted areas, creating a physical boundary that helps reinforce the rules. This will also provide your dog with a safe space where they can play without temptation.
  3. Leash training: Keep your dog on a leash when going outside until they have learned to follow the established boundaries. This allows you to have better control over their movements and prevents them from wandering off and indulging in undesirable behaviors.
  4. Reinforce with commands: Train your dog basic obedience commands like “stay” or “leave it.” These commands can be used to redirect their attention away from forbidden objects or areas and encourage them to obey the established boundaries.
  5. Consistency is key: Ensure that all family members who interact with the dog are aware of and enforce the established rules consistently. Inconsistency may confuse your dog, making it harder for them to understand what behavior is expected of them.

By setting clear rules and boundaries for your dog, you are providing them with structure and guidance. This helps establish a harmonious relationship between you and your pet while ensuring their safety and well-being outdoors.

  • Define the restricted areas
  • Use physical barriers
  • Leash training
  • Reinforce with commands
  • Consistency is key

Basic obedience training

Basic obedience training is an essential component of teaching your dog to stop eating things outside. By teaching your dog basic commands, you will have better control over their behavior and can redirect their attention away from potential dangers or forbidden items.

One important command to teach your dog is the “Leave It” command. This command teaches your dog to immediately stop what they are doing and move away from something that has caught their attention. To begin training this command, place a low-value treat in one hand and close your fist around it.

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Show your closed fist to your dog and say “Leave it.” If your dog tries to sniff or paw at your hand, close it tighter and wait for them to back off slightly before rewarding them with a treat from your other hand. Repeat this process several times until your dog consistently backs off when you give the “Leave it” command.

Another important command is “Drop It” which instructs your dog to release anything they have in their mouth. Start by offering a toy or object that is safe for them to hold in their mouth. Once they have taken the object, offer them a treat while saying “Drop it”.

When they release the object, praise them and reward them with the treat. Repeat this exercise using different objects until they understand the command regardless of what item is in their mouth.

Training basic obedience commands not only helps redirect your dog’s attention but also establishes you as the pack leader. Consistency and repetition are key when training these commands, so be sure to practice regularly in different environments to reinforce their understanding.

CommandHow to Train
Leave ItShow closed fist with treat inside, say “Leave it”, wait for backing off before reward
Drop ItOffer safe object, say “Drop it”, reward after releasing the object

The power of positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a highly effective method for training your dog to stop eating things outside. By using rewards and praise, you can reinforce desired behavior and discourage inappropriate eating habits. This positive approach not only helps to strengthen the bond between you and your dog but also encourages them to make better choices when it comes to what they put in their mouth.

Choosing the right rewards

When using positive reinforcement, it is crucial to select rewards that are highly motivating for your dog. These can include treats, toys, or any other item or activity that your dog finds rewarding. It’s important to vary the rewards to keep them interesting and enticing for your furry friend.

Timing is key

In order for positive reinforcement to be effective, it’s important to offer the reward immediately after your dog exhibits the desired behavior. This immediate association helps the dog understand which specific behavior is being rewarded. For example, if you catch your dog ignoring something on the ground while on a walk, quickly give them a treat along with verbal praise or petting.

Consistency in reinforcement

Consistency is key when utilizing positive reinforcement. Make sure to reward your dog every time they demonstrate the desired behavior of ignoring something on the ground or refraining from eating outdoor items. By doing so consistently, you provide clear expectations for your furry companion.

Remember, the goal of positive reinforcement is not only to discourage inappropriate eating habits but also to build a positive and trusting relationship with your dog. Praise and rewards should be given generously whenever your four-legged friend demonstrates good behavior, reinforcing their understanding that making good choices leads to enjoyable outcomes.

By utilizing positive reinforcement techniques consistently and effectively, you can help train your dog not to eat things outside while fostering a loving and mutually respectful relationship with them in the process.

Implementing effective deterrents

When it comes to training your dog to stop eating things outside, implementing effective deterrents can play a crucial role in shaping their behavior. Deterrents are tools or techniques that create an unpleasant experience for your dog when they attempt to consume something they shouldn’t. This helps them associate the act of eating items outside with negative consequences, discouraging them from repeating this behavior.

One common deterrent is the use of bitter sprays or repellents. These products have a strong and unpleasant taste that dogs find off-putting. By spraying these substances on objects or areas where your dog tends to scavenge, such as plants or garbage cans, you can deter them from approaching and ingesting those items. It is important to choose a safe bitter spray specifically made for dogs and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Another effective deterrent is the use of physical barriers. For example, if your dog is prone to rummaging through the trash, consider using a secure lid or storing it in an area inaccessible to your pet. You can also use baby gates or fencing to restrict access to certain parts of your yard where dangerous items may be present. By physically preventing your dog from reaching tempting objects, you reduce the likelihood of them engaging in inappropriate eating behaviors.

Additionally, auditory cues can serve as effective deterrents. Dogs have sensitive hearing, and certain sounds can startle or annoy them enough to interrupt their scavenging behavior. You can utilize motion-activated devices that emit high-pitched noises when triggered by movement, helping deter your dog from approaching restricted areas or objects.

Implementing these deterrent techniques should be combined with consistent training and supervision. It’s crucial to provide alternative activities and toys for your dog to redirect their attention towards appropriate outlets for chewing and exploring. Remember that each dog is unique, so finding the most effective deterrents for your pet may require some trial and error.

Table: Common Deterrents to Stop Dogs from Eating Things Outside

Bitter sprays or repellentsStrong-tasting substances that discourage dogs from consuming items by creating an unpleasant taste.
Physical barriersUsing lids, gates, or fences to physically prevent dogs from accessing tempting objects or areas.
Auditory cuesMotion-activated devices that emit high-pitched noises when triggered, startling dogs and deterring them from approaching certain areas or objects.

By implementing effective deterrents and providing appropriate outlets for your dog’s chewing and exploring needs, you can significantly reduce the risk of them consuming harmful items outside. Remember to always supervise your dog during outdoor activities and continue reinforcing positive behavior through consistent training and patience.

Building a strong recall

Understanding the importance of a strong recall

Having a strong recall command is crucial when training your dog to stop eating things outside. When your dog is tempted by something tasty or interesting, their natural instinct may be to grab it quickly and run off.

By teaching your dog to come back to you when they are tempted, you can prevent them from ingesting potentially dangerous substances or harmful objects. A reliable recall also ensures that you have control over your dog in any situation, promoting their safety and well-being.

Start with basic recall training

To build a strong recall command, start with basic training exercises in a controlled and distraction-free environment. Begin indoors or in a securely fenced area so that your dog can focus solely on learning the command. Use a unique and positive cue word such as “come” or “here” consistently during these exercises.

Begin by calling your dog’s name followed by the cue word while standing just a few steps away from them. When they come towards you, reward them with praise, treats, or their favorite toy. Repeat this exercise multiple times, gradually increasing the distance between you and your dog. As your dog becomes more proficient at responding to the command indoors, begin practicing in different locations with mild distractions to simulate outdoor scenarios.

Incorporate distractions gradually

Once your dog has mastered the recall command indoors or in controlled areas, it’s time to introduce distractions during training sessions. Start with low-level distractions such as toys or food placed nearby but out of reach for your dog. Call their name followed by the cue word and encourage them to come back to you despite the tempting distraction.

Gradually intensify the distractions by using higher-value treats or placing desirable items closer and within view of your dog. It is important not to overwhelm them but rather increase the difficulty level gradually over time. Reward their successful responses generously to reinforce the desired behavior and create positive associations.

By gradually exposing your dog to distractions, you can build their focus and obedience even in tempting situations outdoors. Remember to always reward and praise your dog when they respond correctly to the recall command, reinforcing their understanding that coming back to you is more rewarding than indulging in something outside.

Addressing underlying issues

One of the key steps in training your dog to stop eating things outside is identifying and addressing any underlying behavioral or emotional issues that may be contributing to this behavior. Dogs may engage in inappropriate eating habits as a result of anxiety, boredom, hunger, or even certain medical conditions. By understanding these potential triggers, you can take proactive measures to resolve them and help your dog overcome their desire to consume items outdoors.

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To start, it’s important to observe your dog’s behavior closely and look for any patterns or triggers that lead them to eat things outside. Keep a record of when these incidents occur, what their body language looks like, and the surrounding environment. This information can be helpful in identifying any common factors that may be causing your dog’s behavior.

If you notice that your dog is engaging in this behavior out of boredom or lack of mental stimulation, it’s crucial to provide them with sufficient exercise and mental enrichment. Consider increasing the duration and intensity of their daily walks, introducing puzzle toys or interactive games, or enrolling them in obedience classes or agility training. These activities can help redirect their energy towards more appropriate outlets and reduce their desire to eat things outside.

In some cases, dogs may exhibit this behavior as a result of anxiety or stress. If you suspect this may be the case for your dog, it is recommended to consult with a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist who can provide guidance on how to manage anxiety-related behaviors. They may recommend techniques such as desensitization training, calming exercises, or even medication if necessary.

By addressing any underlying issues contributing to your dog’s desire to eat things outside, you can effectively tackle the root cause of this behavior and improve their overall well-being. Remember that each dog is unique, so it’s essential to tailor your approach based on their specific needs and seek professional help if needed. With time, patience, and consistent training, you can help your dog develop healthier habits and enjoy a safer outdoor environment.

Data about behavior triggers for dogs eating things outside

Behavior TriggerDescription
BoredomDogs may eat things outside out of boredom or lack of mental stimulation.
Anxiety or StressSome dogs may engage in this behavior due to anxiety or stressors in their environment.
Hunger or Nutritional DeficienciesInadequate diet or nutritional deficiencies can lead to cravings for non-food items.
Medical ConditionsSometimes, dogs may consume items outside as a result of certain medical conditions, such as pica.

Consistency and patience

Why Consistency and Patience are Key

Consistency and patience are crucial elements when it comes to training your dog to stop eating things outside. It’s important to understand that changing any behavior takes time, especially when it comes to ingrained habits or instincts.

Your dog needs clear and consistent guidance from you in order to break the habit of consuming items outdoors. Additionally, practicing patience will help you maintain a positive attitude throughout the training process, which will ultimately benefit both you and your furry friend.

Consistent Training Techniques

Consistency starts with establishing clear rules and boundaries for your dog. Ensure that everyone in your household is on the same page and consistently enforces these rules. For example, if you have decided that your dog is not allowed to chew on sticks or eat garbage while outside, make sure this rule is enforced every single time without exception.

Another aspect of consistent training is maintaining regular practice sessions with your dog. Set aside dedicated time each day for training exercises where you can work on commands such as “leave it” or “drop it.” Repetition is key in reinforcing desired behaviors, so consistency in training sessions will greatly contribute to your success.

The Role of Patience

Patience plays a critical role in successfully stopping your dog from eating things outdoors. Dogs have their own individual learning pace, so it’s important to remain patient and understanding as they progress through the training process. Remember that external distractions or temptations may also slow down their progress at times. Maintaining a calm and patient presence during these moments will allow you to continue working towards long-term success.

Additionally, avoid becoming frustrated or resorting to punishment-based techniques when encountering setbacks. Instead, focus on redirecting their attention to appropriate activities or using positive reinforcement when they make good choices. By staying patient and consistent with your training approach, you will build trust and create an effective learning environment for your dog.


In conclusion, training your dog to stop eating things outside is not only important for their health and safety, but also for your peace of mind. By implementing the strategies outlined in this article, you can successfully teach your dog to resist the temptation of consuming harmful or inappropriate items outdoors.

It is essential to celebrate your dog’s progress throughout the training process. Recognize and reward their efforts when they exhibit self-control and follow the established boundaries. Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool that can encourage desired behavior and discourage inappropriate eating habits. Use treats, praise, and affection to reinforce their good choices and help them understand what is expected of them.

Additionally, maintaining a healthy and safe outdoor environment is crucial for preventing further incidents. Regularly inspect your yard or walking areas for any potential hazards such as toxic plants or small objects that could be ingested by your dog. Keep garbage cans secured and inaccessible to prevent them from scavenging through potentially harmful waste.

Remember, consistency and patience are key when it comes to training your dog. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and changing long-standing behaviors takes time. Be patient with both yourself and your dog throughout the process. Stay calm, firm, and consistent with the rules you have established.

With dedication and persistence, you can successfully train your dog to stop eating things outside. By celebrating their progress, providing a safe environment, and continuing with positive reinforcement techniques, you will strengthen the bond between you and your beloved pet while ensuring their overall health and well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get my dog to stop eating everything on the street?

Getting your dog to stop eating everything on the street can be a challenging task, but with consistent training and redirection, it is possible to modify this behavior. Start by ensuring that your dog receives a balanced diet and enough mental and physical exercise to reduce their drive to scavenge. Additionally, teach your dog the “leave it” command, which will help you redirect their attention away from items they want to eat.

When walking outside, maintain control of the leash and use positive reinforcement techniques when your dog resists the temptation to grab something from the street. Offer praise or treats when they focus on you rather than objects on the ground. It may take time and patience, but by consistently reinforcing desired behaviors, you can gradually train your dog to stop eating everything they come across.

At what age do dogs stop eating everything outside?

The age at which dogs stop eating everything outside can vary depending on several factors, including breed, individual temperament, and training efforts invested in curbing this behavior. Some puppies may naturally outgrow their curiosity for ingesting random objects as they mature, while others may retain this behavior well into adulthood if not properly addressed.

However, there isn’t a specific age universally applicable for when dogs stop eating things outside. Regardless of age, it remains important for owners to provide appropriate training and supervision to discourage such behaviors.

Why won’t my dog stop eating things in the yard?

Dogs often enjoy exploring their yards and may be compelled to eat things due to a variety of reasons like boredom or simply finding certain objects appealing or intriguing in some way. To prevent your dog from eating things in the yard, ensure they have enough mental stimulation through toys or activities like puzzle games that engage their attention positively. Regular exercise sessions can also help alleviate boredom-induced chewing tendencies.

Creating designated play areas or using barriers can limit access to potentially dangerous items in the yard that could harm your dog if ingested. Furthermore, consistent reinforcement of basic obedience commands like “leave it” alongside rewards for appropriate behavior will help redirect their focus away from objects they should not consume. It’s important to keep a watchful eye on your dog while in the yard and promptly intervene or remove any objects that may pose a risk to their health.

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