Why Does My Canine Chase the Trash Truck?

Is your dog afraid of the garbage truck? You’re not alone! Many dogs have great feelings for the weekly garbage truck. Even calm dogs can be amazed by the size and loud pops and rattles of garbage trucks coming down the street. Some dogs are scared and want to get off the truck, while other dogs try to overturn the truck in an attempt (dog logic) to keep it away from them.

Why are dogs afraid of loud noises?

Dogs don’t care about the garbage truck because it’s there to collect or recycle rubbish. Most dogs fear a garbage truck because of its size and noise. Many dogs who have problems with the garbage truck may react similarly to other large vehicles such as buses and construction equipment. However, dog guards often first notice their dog’s problems with large vehicles with the garbage truck due to its weekly schedule and proximity to the house. Also, garbage trucks can appear more unpredictable or worrying to dogs because of the frequency with which they start and stop. As a result, these trucks spend more time near your home and dog than just driving by quickly. In dogs who are uncomfortable or anxious about the garbage truck, the sights and sounds of the truck generally trigger a fight or flight response that can translate into a variety of fear-based undesirable behaviors. These include barking, lounging, trying to chase the truck, hide behind you, run away from the truck, or run towards the truck.

Why are dogs afraid of loud noises? Many dogs who have problems with the garbage truck may react similarly to other large vehicles such as buses and construction equipment. Photo: Getty Images

Don’t punish your dog

It can be scary, stressful, or overwhelming to have a dog who has a great reaction to something that seems very normal to you. Remember, even though you understand what the garbage truck is and why it is on your street, it is a worrying situation for your dog.

You never want to punish your dog for how he reacts to the truck. If your dog barks, falls, or tries to escape the garbage truck, it will respond very naturally. Even if your dog appears brave / brave and wants to face the garbage truck, punishing your dog won’t change the underlying fear / discomfort and can only make the behavior worse. What your dog is telling you through his or her reaction to the truck is that he is too close and it is too hard to keep calm. This is useful information for you as you work to help your dog cope with their fears of garbage trucks.

Here’s how to change your dog’s emotional response to noisy, scary things like the garbage truck

The key to helping your dog not react to the garbage truck driving down your street every week is counter conditioning, or shifting your dog’s emotional response to the stimulus, in this case the garbage truck. Achieving this is a slow process that is primarily about meeting your dog where he is, being realistic about comfort, and keeping enough distance between your dog and the truck.

The training goal is to work at your dog’s pace to create positive associations with the truck. Start at a distance where your dog won’t be upset or react to the looks / sounds of the truck, even if that means your dog needs to be several blocks away to start training. To work on your dog’s fears / reactions, always make an effort to stay some distance where your dog is comfortable and continue to praise and treat your dog for the calm behavior and whenever he gets on the truck looks. If your dog reacts, they are over the threshold and cannot learn / concentrate because they are too overwhelmed. Therefore, it is important to stay at a distance that your dog is comfortable at. We want this to be an enjoyable and optimistic experience for our dog. Your dog very quickly establishes the connection that a look at the truck from a safe distance evokes delicious treats. As your dog gains confidence, you can start moving the distance between your dog and the truck closer.

Related: Treat your dog to … different types of dog treats

For example, when you’re starting out, your dog may need to be three blocks away to cope with the sights / sounds of the garbage truck so he can be treated calmly, and for the next week your dog may be comfortable being two and a half a block away and still be able to look at the truck and eat goodies. By not pushing your dog to get closer to the truck than he is comfortable with, you are supporting your dog by continuing to make positive associations with the truck and affirming that the truck’s presence means praise and tasty treats. Continue this slow pace weekly until you can finally get your dog past the truck without incident.

Remember, this is a lengthy process and can take months of consistent work. If at some point your dog is afraid of the truck and reacts, it just means that he is a little over the threshold and we need to slow down and increase the distance between our dog and the truck. For the remainder of this training session and the next training session, start a further distance where you know your dog will be successful and comfortable when they can see the truck, and then start looking for treats for you! The practical thing about garbage trucks is that they display them regularly on the same day and generally at the same time, so you can plan your walks and trainings to help.

Featured image: primeimages / Getty Images

Continue reading: Why do dogs moan when they lie down?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Main Menu