Tails from the trail and tips on training your human

How to Train Your Dog to Pick Up Plastic Trash

Train Your Dog to Pick Up Plastic Trash - Happy Breath

Train Your Dog to Pick Up Plastic Trash | With the recent news on how plastics affect our health and environment, it is imperative that we clean up any trash or litter.

For some people, this means picking up anything they see in their daily walk around town. For others, it means including your dog in cleaning up with you and teaching him what items he can help pick up.

Dogs are brilliant and loyal animals. They always want to please their owners, so it’s easy for them to learn new tricks such as cleaning up. You’ll be surprised how much your dog will enjoy when you teach them tricks like cleaning up.

This article will talk about how you can train your dog to pick up plastic trash.

The Problem With Plastic Waste

Plastic is a petroleum-based organic polymer with many different applications. It can be found in household items such as a plastic wrap, containers, etc. It’s one of the most popular materials on earth.

The majority of plastic products are used once before being thrown away. It is estimated that over 300 million tons of single-use plastics are produced each year, half of which get recycled into other items, and the rest goes to landfills.

It is no secret that the environment has suffered from a lot of pollution and waste. We all know about toxic smog, human-produced carbon emissions, garbage rising to surreal levels in our streets and seas.

Plastic makes up around 80% of marine debris worldwide. This means that plastic bottles are some of the most abundant items floating at sea because they float for miles before finally sinking. There they are eaten by fish like dolphins who can get sick as a result of humans littering indiscriminately with single-use plastics.

Training Your Dog To Pick Up Trash

A recent study by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior concluded that dogs could be taught to help at home. Teaching them how and where to put their toys away is one thing, but what about teaching your dog responsible behavior when it comes time for picking up trash?

It’s easy. There are ways you might do this depending on whether or not they already have some habits in place, such as scavenging pieces around the yard.

Backchaining Behavior

The perfect behavior to ‘backchain’ is teaching your dog a new trick. Here, you pick up on the last piece of your dog’s habit and construct backward chains from there.

• Over the center of a garbage can, offer your dog a piece of trash.• Say ‘Take It.’ When your dog follows your command and takes the trash, praise them.

• Immediately cue your dog to ‘drop it.’ If your dog is aware of the ‘Drop it’ command, they will drop the trash in the can.

• Once this happens, offer them a treat and praise them.

• If your dog does not know the ‘drop it’ command, you can cue them ‘Drop .’ When they open their mouth, the trash will fall into the trash can.

• Follow up by giving them a treat.  Giving them treats when they successfully drop the trash in the can helps them associate picking up garbage with getting rewarded. The more rewarding these behaviors feel, the quicker they’ll learn what’s expected of them.

You can move the trash can slightly towards one side now when the ‘Drop’ cue is working right over the garbage can.

  • Say ‘Take it’ (still over the can).When your dog takes the trash, Cue ‘Drop.’
  • If the garbage falls in the garbage can, give them a treat.
  • If the trash does not fall into the basket, say ‘Oops’ and repeat.

You can gradually move the trash you are offering your dog farther away until it’s no longer above the trash can. This will reinforce that your dog needs to drop the garbage in the middle of the can.

Once your dog starts bringing garbage from a distance and has learned to drop it in the trash can, you can begin offering them trash by putting it on the ground. This way, you can teach your dog that they have to pick the trash from the ground, bring it to the can, and drop it in.

Generalizing The Cue With Different Items

Ideally, you would have started by offering your dog a specific item as trash, like an old juice box. Now, you need to generalize the cue with different things. While doing this, you need to be careful not to leave any valuable items on the floor while asking your dog to pick up trash, or your smartphone or watch could end up in the trash can.


When you train your dog to pick up plastic trash, they will be helping the environment. You can do this by using a few simple steps, such as teaching them what “trash” is and where it goes (in the garbage). Be sure to praise them for doing their job. It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks and make life just that much better around us all.