9 Tips to Keep Dogs Out of the Trash

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keep dogs out of the trash

Whether it’s your kitchen garbage, your bathroom garbage, or your garbage bins outside, your dog just can’t seem to get enough of it!

So what’s going on? Why does your dog love garbage so much? And, more importantly, how do you stop him?

Digging in trash is definitely something that almost every dog looooves!

My Mini Poodle Baloo is no exception here: the smellier the better! Luckily, we’ve got it under pretty good control these days. This took lots of research and lots of trial and error. So this article will hopefully get you there a little faster.

So here are 9 tips to get your dog to stop getting into the trash. But first, let’s go over the reasons why he’s doing this.

Why Do Dogs Love to Get Into the Trash?

As always, you first need to understand why your dog shows this kind of behavior. So, let’s start with the question “why do dogs love to get into the trash?”

Interesting Smells

Your dog’s nose is incredibly sensitive. And there’s one thing you can say with certainty about the trash: it’s full of smells.

One of the biggest reasons why your dog is constantly getting into the trash is because his very sensitive nose is picking up on the interesting smells in there. And he wants nothing more than to check them all out! Old food, tissues, anything you put in your garbage can be interesting to your dog.

Your dog isn’t necessarily trying to make a big mess for you to clean up. He’s just trying to investigate what all those smells in that big container are.


Ah yes, our old friend boredom!

Boredom is the cause of a lot of behavioral issues in dogs. When dogs are bored and aren’t getting enough physical or mental stimulation, they’ll start trying to find their own entertainment.

Entertainment for your dog might be digging through the garbage. Doing this will give him two results. The first is that it gives his nose something to do, which brings us back to the first point. Dogs’ noses are super sensitive, and this is his way of putting it to work.

The second thing is that digging through the garbage out of boredom will get you to pay attention to him. If he’s bored and feels like you’re not giving him enough attention, he might learn that going through the garbage gets you to notice him again.

If you think that your dog might indeed be bored, here are a few articles that will help you out:


Another thing that might be bothering your dog is hunger. Pay attention to what he’s actually doing with the garbage he’s getting into. Is he just throwing it around? Or have you noticed he’s eating it?

There are probably lots of yummy smells (to your dog, at least) in your garbage. And if he’s feeling hungry, he might try feeding himself by going through your trash.

Dogs mostly get into the trash because they love the smells, they're bored or they're hungry
Dogs mostly get into the trash because they love the smells, they’re bored or they’re hungry

9 Tips to Keep Dogs Out of Trash

Now that we know why your dog might be going through the trash, let’s go over some ways to get him to stop.

1. Reduce Access

It might seem obvious, but this really is one of the most effective ways of keeping your dog out of your trash.

If your dog won’t get out of your garbage, the first thing you should do is reduce his access to it.

After all, he can’t go through the trash if he can’t get to it!

Try keeping your garbage can in a cupboard, or buying a can with a lid. This way, your dog won’t be able to get into your trash in the first place.

That was the easiest way to solve the problem for us.

Reducing access can often already solve the trash digging problem
Reducing access can often already solve the trash digging problem

2. Use a Crate or Small Room for Your Dog When You’re Away

If you’ve noticed that your dog is more likely to dig through the trash when you’re out of the house, it might be a good idea to confine him while you’re gone.

Crates are great tools for keeping your dog confined and safe, and for working on behavioral problems. And don’t worry, even if you have an older dog, it’s never too late to crate train!

If you’re wondering how to crate train your dog, check out this article! If you’re looking for some great crates, here is a review of some of the best crates on the market.

3. Provide Enough Physical Exercise

If your dog is digging through the trash because he has too much energy, it’s time to start exercising him more.

There are a lot of awesome ways you can give your dog some exercise to burn off excess energy. Walking him is one way, but you can also play tug or fetch inside. Going for jogs or hikes will also not only help your dog burn off energy, but it will keep you active too!

Dog sports are really great ways too. Not only will your dog get a lot of physical activity, but it will also help you and your dog build trust and bond.

4. Provide Enough Mental Stimulation

Just like it’s important to make sure your dog is getting enough physical activity, you need to make sure he’s getting enough mental stimulation too. This is especially true if your dog is going through the trash out of boredom.

There are lots of great brain games you can play with your dog to keep his mind engaged.

But even if you’re busy, you can still make sure your dog is getting enough mental stimulation. Try making your dog work for his meals by putting them into a food puzzle he has to solve.

Mental stimulation can also be a wonderful training tool if used correctly. Check out Braintrainingfordogs to learn how to train your dog to be the best dog he can be by using mental stimulation! Or have a look at Dogpackr’s review first to see if it’s a fit for you and your dog!

Field Dogs 300 x 600

5. Give Him Something to Chew or Lick

Keep your dog’s mouth busy and far away from the trash by giving him something he can chew on or lick.

Giving him a tasty chewy, or filling up a Kong toy with treats or peanut butter and freezing it are just a couple of things you can try.

With your dog’s mouth too busy with his tasty treat, you’ll find it much easier to keep him away from the trash can.

6. Train the “Leave It” Command

Leave it” is a really useful command for your dog to know in a variety of situations. Whether your dog keeps barking at the mailman, or he won’t stop getting into the trash, you can use “leave it” to get him to stop.

To teach “leave it,” you’ll want two different treats. One should be a low value treat, and the other should be high value.

Now hold one type of treat in each hand. Hold the hand with the low value treat out to your dog in a fist. Let him sniff and tell him “leave it.” When he finishes sniffing, tell him “yes” or “good dog,” and give him the high value treat in the other hand.

Keep doing this until your dog has learned to stop sniffing as soon as you say “leave it.” Then you can advance to tossing the low value treat onto the floor, telling him “leave it.” Keep working at it until he understands the command.

Once your dog understands this command, it’ll be much easier to get him to stop going through the trash when you catch him.

7. Try More Frequent Feeding Times

If your dog is going through the trash because he’s hungry, it might be time to up his feeding times. If you’re worried you might not be feeding your dog enough, check out this PetMD article to calculate how much food your dog needs.

Also consider breaking your dog’s food up into several different meals throughout the day. This way, instead of giving it to him all at once, it’ll be easier to keep him feeling full throughout the day. This will discourage him from going through your garbage for food!

Another option to test would be go give him some higher value fresh cooked dog food. If your pup is constantly going through the trash to look for food, it might also be that he’s lacking some nutrients.

Make sure to check out my review on the best dog food delivery services for fresh cooked food to learn more.

8. Only Scold Him When You Catch Him “Red-Pawed”

Dogs tend to live in the moment.

If you find your trash upturned but your dog is already in another room doing something else, by then he won’t have any idea what you’re scolding him for. Even worse—he might think you’re scolding him for lying on his bed and minding his own business.

As frustrating as it is, if your dog isn’t in the act of going through the trash, you’ll have to keep your cool. You should only scold him when you catch him actually doing it.

And remember to never use force with your dog. You want your dog to love and trust you, not be scared of you.

9. Use Hot Sauce or Strong Essential Oils

Since a dog’s sense of smell is so strong, you can use that as a deterrent. While you’re working on training your dog as a more long-term solution, try putting a little hot sauce or some essential oils on your trash can.

The unpleasant taste and smell of hot sauce and the strong essential oils will discourage your dog from going through the trash. They’ll also help cover up the tastier smells that your dog might find in the trash.

Just make sure to use scents that are safe for your dog if he’s a hardcore trash digger. Lemon, orange, and eucalyptus are all strong-smelling oils that are safe for your pup to breathe in.

I accidentally stumbled upon this solution for our bathroom bin which Baloo still loves to stick his nose in. I use tea-tree oil for various reasons and then put the used cotton buds or cotton pads in the bin.

Since I’m using that, Baloo leaves the trash alone!

With these 9 tips you should be able to get your dog to leave your trash alone
With these 9 tips you should be able to get your dog to leave your trash alone


If you’re frustrated by your dog’s strong desire to get into your trash, don’t worry.

There are ways you can keep him out of it. Once you understand why your dog is getting into the trash, be it because of hunger, boredom, or the yummy smells, it’ll be much easier to get him to stop.

When you’ve figured out the cause, you can follow these 9 tips to help your dog stay out of the trash. This will result in a happier you and a cleaner home—and dog!

P.s.: Don’t forget to check out Braintraining4dogs if you want to take your dog training game to the next level. It offers a 60-day money back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose.

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