Dog Poison Prevention?


New Member
While compiling my 'dream' list of tricks/behaviors for my still-theoretical dog, I remembered that a couple of dogs in my neighborhood have died under suspicious circumstances. So I looked around the web for different ways of keeping dogs from eating things on the ground or taking things from strangers. The main ones are:

1) Only have dog eat from a certain bowl (I assume my dog will have a dedicated dish and all, but I don't know that I won't forget it somewhere or that it won't get broken/lost)
2) Only have dog eat when I say it's ok (maybe?)
3) Only have dog eat when *I* give him the food (not practical at all, what if I go somewhere and need to have someone dogsit?)
4) Food with a 'shock' left outside (I have no idea how this one works)
5) variants on reprimanding when dog seems willing to take food from Other People

Maybe what I really want is two separate things. First, that my dog will not eat poo or garbage he runs across during walks, and second, that he not eat or drink anything (potentially containing antifreeze :dogtongue: ) that someone might try to give him.

Any suggestions?

Jean Cote

Staff member
I personally do not let my dogs eat or sniff the ground while they walk with me on sidewalks. I've trained them to walk to my left side and to follow me. So even if there were something poisonous on the ground, it would have to get smooshed up on their paws for them to lick it.


Honored Member
Staff member
All I can recommend is developing a flawless "leave it." On off-leash walks, my dogs know to stay at my left side, shoulder at my knee. They don't sniff around because that would mean: a) breaking position and b)potentially wandering off in pursuit of a scent. I do have a release word which lets them know they are free to do whatever they want and go anywhere to a certain extent, so long as they return the second I call them. Of course this took a lot of work perfecting recalls and such. If they're sniffing something odd I just call them back or tell them 'leave it.'

You could I suppose teach a command specifically for eating. A weird word or something that people just don't normally think of. "Munchies," "Tummy time," etc or even something that makes no sense at all--"Ziggy," "Nilly," "Zam." Things that aren't even words. So, what you could do is teach your dog to sit/down and wait until you say, "Munchies!" or whatever before he can eat. You can also teach food refusal--have him wait for the food, but don't say the magic eat word. Just say, "Okay..." or something else releasing him from the position, but not to eat. If you look up 101 Dog Tricks with Kyra Sundance and Chaucy, she teaches a food refusal trick. The end result is to be able to hold up any food item to your dog and have them turn their face away.

Hope this helps. :)


Experienced Member
I taught a good solid leave-it, take-it, mine, etc and I do not let my dog eat things when we are out either. I practiced by starting with kibble (low interest) in my hand and offering it and saying leave-it, if she tried anyway I closed my fist. When she backed up even a little she got a reward of chicken (high interest) from my other hand. We worked up to me dropping chicken (ready to cover with my foot) and telling her leave it. If she did she got a reward from my hand and I pick up the item on the floor never letting her have that one. Or you can pick it up and give it to her. Final progress to walking and me tossing chicken in front of her on leash and saying leave-it. If she did she got a reward from my hand.

I don't know that it's easy to teach a dog not to eat anything off the ground period like if someone threw a plate of steak into the yard. It is doable for guard dogs and the like but much of the training is aversive and uses shock collars and the like. To me this has a potential of doing more damage with negative associations to you or food if not done by a professional. I also don't want to train my dog that way. While I share your concern about people doing things to my dogs or stealing them my solution is to leave them inside while I am gone and I police the yard before I let them out. We have a lot of dangerous wild life that also precludes me leaving them out while I am gone so it's not as big of an issue.

I do agree with Tx_Cowgirl good leash manners and not eating things off the ground on leash are essential. You never know what someone has dropped or leaked from their car (like antifreeze).


Honored Member
Staff member
On the subject of antifreeze, what many people don't know is that antifreeze isn't made like it used to be----newer antifreeze will not kill a dog, and typically doesn't even cause serious problems. Not that I wouldn't take your dog to the vet if you suspected they got into antifreeze, and I wouldn't purposely let my dog get into antifreeze. But antifreeze from 10 years ago and antifreeze you buy today are different. Antifreeze from 10 years ago will likely kill your dog even with veterinary help, and antifreeze today will not.