Solution 12:35 27 Jul 2020

Animals helping environment: how woman from Dnipro taught her dogs to collect garbage

Cleaning up after yourself is pretty natural for a civilized person. What could be easier? Just carry the wrapper from the ice cream to the bin, collect disposable dishes in a separate bag after the picnic, and throw away the garbage in the container, but not in the nearest river. It seems as if everyone knows this rule, and nods their head in agreement regarding cleanliness. When we read about the fight against global pollution and, like in kindergarten, learn to throw garbage in designated places to protect the environment. But, at the same time, individual single-use bags and pieces of paper still fly around the streets, and spontaneous landfills of various sizes do not disappear for some reason.

When there are heavy rains, it all washes into the rivers and then into the sea. According to scientists, eight million tons of plastic waste enter the world's oceans annually. About 100,000 marine mammals and approximately 1,000,000 birds die yearly due to pollution. The massive amount of garbage that accumulates in the ocean poses a considerable danger not only to marine life but also to the entire nature as a whole.

у Дніпрі собаки прибирають сміття

It seems that the universe is tired of hinting to humanity that garbage can destroy our planet, and sooner or later, we will become so polluted that there will simply be no place for all living things to live. It decided to appeal directly to our little brothers, and, it must be said, often, the winged and four-legged inhabitants of the planet cope with this problem better than humans.

🐦 Crows clean up after people:


🦢 Swans clean the lake from plastic bags:


🐬 Dolphin understands garbage sorting:


🐘 A surveillance camera captured how an elephant collects and throws garbage into a bucket:

🐶 And in the city of Dnipro, dogs took care of the environment

Every morning, Hanna Stepenko goes for a walk with her dogs on the bank of the Dnipro. Hanna is a dog trainer and the founder of the Dnipro breeder of Jack Russell terrier hunting dogs.

у Дніпрі собаки прибирають сміття

Jack Russell is a mixture of irrepressible energy, intelligence, and hunting talent. This breed originated in England, where it was bred in the 1800s by the efforts of the Reverend John Russell. He bred a variety of terriers that would meet his requirements. The dog had to be able to drive foxes together with hounds and go down into holes to drive foxes and other game out of there. But at the same time, these dogs are amusing. The hunting instinct and propensity to play prompted Hanna's pets to clean the bank of the Dnipro River during their daily walks.

у Дніпрі собаки прибирають сміття

"At first, I cleaned up the garbage on the beach by myself," says the owner, "there are few people who support me, but it is important to me that my wards don't injure their paws. Plus, it's not very pleasant for me to walk among the garbage. The dogs were always curious to see what I was doing, picking up something here and there. Maybe they felt competition. She is collecting, so maybe we need to do this too? They started helping by digging bottles, napkins, and food wrappers out of the sand, bringing them to me, expecting praise. My terriers love digging holes and extracting something from them, and for some reason, people, on the contrary, love to bury their junk in the sand."

During the quarantine, there was more time for walks, and it also got warmer. Terriers began not only to run on the bank but also to swim in the water. The oldest dog of the pack, Carmen, had another talent—she knew how to dive and catch small fish in shallow water. But it turned out that finding plastic cups is no less fascinating. Other dogs picked up this habit. A real competition began of who would bring the biggest catch to the bank.

у Дніпрі собаки прибирають сміття

"It looks amusing," Hanna Stepenko comments. "The dogs dive into the water and start picking through their paws little by little, groping for the prey. The water is not transparent, so all the hunting is done by touch. Then they lift what they find out of the water and drag it to me on the bank so that I put the garbage in a bag prepared in advance."

Sometimes they have to pull rather heavy things. The largest find is a carpet that some wretched human creature threw into the river. There are sweaters, rubber boots, and blades. At first, Hanna used small bags for cleaning up after dogs to collect garbage, but very quickly, it became clear that she needed a larger container for all the finds. So now, a walk without two massive supermarket bags is almost impossible.

у Дніпрі собаки прибирають сміття

But most of the garbage on Soniachnyi beach consists of household waste—bottles, juice boxes, plastic cups and plates, chip bags, wrappers, and rags. In addition to plastic, there is a pile of broken glass and used syringes on the beach; the owner herself cleans these dangerous items. According to Hanna, even if they've collected everything in the morning, vacationers come to the water again in the evening, after which the shore needs to be cleaned again.

"Looking at this," Hanna is indignant, "I'm not ashamed to say that I love dogs more than people. My dogs understand better than many Dnipro residents that these things do not belong on the bank or in a river. To all my clients who take a puppy from me, I say: you get a blank sheet of paper, what you write on it, how you raise your dog, that's what you will get. Up to 1.5 years, a dog can actively learn and absorb information. This corresponds to a person's age when they also become an adult. Is it true that our people, who "decently" spend every evening on our beach, were not taught by anyone before they were 20-30 years old that they should take their garbage with them?"

The woman says that passers-by react to her sanitary team mostly positively, smiling and wishing them success, but she has never met people who would do the same on her walks along the Dnipro.

у Дніпрі собаки прибирають сміття

у Дніпрі собаки прибирають сміття

So, for now, the squad of dog cleaners is working on the beach without support, but Hanna hopes their actions will inspire people to clean and not litter.

Can you teach your dog to collect, for example, plastic waste?

Many hunting dog breeds are inherent to bring things to the owner. As a rule, they discover this skill from early childhood. But if it is not supported and reinforced, the dog stops performing this trick. However, according to dog experts, you can teach not only a hunting dog but also almost every pet to fetch things. The main thing is to interest it in an object and gradually increase the load. You can quickly develop this skill using positive reinforcement.

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You need to start teaching the dog the skills of "fetch" and "give" with the easiest and favorite objects of the pet. For example, it can be a ball or a soft toy. As a rule, the dog often brings these objects to you in the urge to play, so your hint will be apparent. Later, try not to use things that are too small and flat to perform the trick. It is best if it is a comfortable and non-slippery item.

у Дніпрі собаки прибирають сміття

It is best to start training with a game. For example, you can take a ball or a special dog toy that will interest the pet. If you take an object unfamiliar to the dog, it will not immediately be able to understand it involves its attention. Of course, a new item can also arouse interest in the dog, but it can fetch the new thing only if the skill is already formed. Use the following instruction in practice:

  • Put the desired object at a distance of approximately 1 meter from the dog.
  • Make the dog come to it. If the pet is interested, use a clicker (a signaling device) and incentives.
  • Now, the dog must touch the object with its nose or take it in its mouth. Also, with a successful result, you will use a clicker and an incentive.
  • Repeat the exercise about ten times, and refrain from using the clicker.
  • Further use of the clicker will be only if the dog tries to lift the object from the floor.
  • Gradually increase the distance between the object and the dog and the time the pet holds it in its mouth.
  • Now, when the dog takes the desired object, say the command "Take" and call it to you with the help of a gesture. Use the "Give" command to prompt the dog to give you the item. Consolidate the positive result with encouragement, a clicker, and multiple repetitions.
  • As soon as the dog remembers that the object must be brought and given to you, use the voice command "Bring."

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