How to Stop a Dog From Eating Things on the Ground

by Stephanie Dube Dwilson
    Dogs can be tempted by all sorts of things they find on the ground.

    Dogs can be tempted by all sorts of things they find on the ground.

    Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Teaching your dog not to eat things on the ground can save you heartache and vet bills. While most tidbits will be harmless, there are many things your dog may find tasty or simply interesting that can be harmful, like cigarette butts. Not eating things from the ground is also a matter of good manners. If you are sitting in the living room snacking and watching television, it's nice to know you can leave the room without worrying that your dog will snag your snack.

    Step 1

    Drop a treat on the ground, close enough that you can step on it quickly to prevent your dog from grabbing hold of it. When you drop the treat, tell your dog "leave it," and step on the treat. When he give up on the treat and looks at you, reward him with praise and a treat. Do not give him the treat that is under your foot.

    Step 2

    Continue to teach the "leave it" command, tossing the treat in different spots, but keeping it close enough that you can block your dog from getting it. When he seems to understand what you want and looks at you rather than the treat on the ground when you say "leave it," start leaving the treat uncovered when you drop it. When he ignores the treat on your command, you are ready to move on.

    Step 3

    Scatter treats around on the ground while your dog is not around. Attach a leash to your dog and bring him to the area, walking him through the treats. If he acts interested in the treats on the ground, give him the "leave it" command.

    Step 4

    Repeat the process with your dog off-leash. As you continue to tell your dog to leave it whenever there is food on the ground, he will learn that he needs to ignore anything he sees and smells there. When you notice him paying less attention, hold off on the "leave it" command and drop the command entirely when it is clear he isn't going to pick up the food.

    Items You Will Need

    • Treats
    • Leash
    • Basket muzzle


    • To keep your dog from eating off the ground before he understands "leave it," keep him on a leash while outside so you can supervise his walks. If he starts to pick something up, gently use your leg to push his shoulders and head away from the item and head in a different direction. If he is particularly bad about picking things up while outside, he may need to wear a basket-style muzzle until he learns the "leave it" command.

    Photo Credits

    • Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.

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