While your dog thinks every outdoor delicacy is part of his personal smorgasbord, avoid letting him dine on birdseed found under feeders. Regular ingestion of birdseed can cause a digestive blockage, and bird droppings contain bacteria. Depending on where bird feeders are located, several solutions exist.
Keep your dog on a leash when he is outside in an unfenced area to prevent him from running to bird feeders to eat the wild bird feed. If the bird feeders are inside the fenced portion of your yard, move the feeders so no birdseed can drop into the yard below where the dog can reach it.
Tether your dog -- only for short periods of time -- as part of his training to leave the birdseed alone. Use a tether with a lead long enough to allow him to move around, but short enough to keep him away from the birdseed and feeder pole so he cannot wrap around it. Use this method as a "time out"; when your dog attempts to eat birdseed, tether him after a firm "no" for several minutes. Repeat the exercise to help him associate eating birdseed with a time out. Do not leave him on the tether as a way to keep him from the birdseed; many areas now have laws that prohibit owners from tethering an unsupervised dog.
Teach your dog to follow spoken commands, such as Leave It, so he will leave the birdseed -- and anything else you want him not to eat -- alone when you utter a command. Your dog should already see you as his pack leader; teaching him commands should be part of his everyday training. The Leave It command, well-trained, will solve the birdseed-eating issue as long as you're able to call to the dog when you see him approach birdseed.
Shake a noisemaker, such as a can full of rice or dry beans, at the dog when he goes for the birdseed. When he stops, startled, divert his attention to something else, such as a chew toy. Shake cans are useful to distract your dog from an unwanted behavior; if he hears it each time he goes for birdseed, he will associate the negative stimulus of noise with attempting to eat birdseed. Do not overuse the shake-can method; if your dog becomes desensitized to the noise, he will ignore it.
Items You Will Need
- Shake can
- Praise your dog lavishly when he obeys and does not eat the birdseed; reward him with a treat to encourage the positive behavior.
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Birdseeds
- "The Roanoke Times": Dogs Cannot Eat the Same Foods as People
- Cesar'sWay: Dog Training Tip: Teaching the "Leave It" Command
- WebMD: Training Your Pet Through the Life Stages
- The Humane Society of the United States: The Facts About Chaining and Tethering
- Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images