Why Do Dogs Chase Garbage Trucks?

Why do some dogs seem to lose their minds when a truck goes by?
So many dogs—even dogs who are fine with cars and pick-ups—lose it when a garbage truck goes by, or worse, stops to collect the trash in front of their house. What’s going on, and what can we do about it?

Not all dogs who see hulking, noisy garbage trucks react to them, but many do. For those dogs, encountering one while they’re outside can provoke them to chase it, or to erupt in a frantic bout of barking and fence-running. Seeing it while they’re inside the house may set off an attack of frenzied barking at the window.

What is it about garbage trucks that upsets dogs? Pretty much everything. They’re big, they’re loud in a whole bunch of different ways, and they stop and start frequently. Heaven only knows how dogs feel about the variety of smells that emanate from them, but there’s certainly a powerful olfactory component. On top of everything—in towns and cities, at least—they pull up right in front of the dog’s house.

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