How do I stop my dog from digging in the trash can?

Have you ever come home to find your trash can overturned, with garbage strewn all over your house? If you have a dog, chances are you may have encountered this frustrating scenario. Dogs have a natural curiosity and a scent-driven instinct that often leads them to explore the enticing world of trash cans. While it may seem like a never-ending battle, fear not! This article will provide you with effective strategies and tips on how to prevent your furry friend from digging in the trash can, allowing you to maintain a clean and sanitary home environment.

In the following sections, we will delve into the root causes behind a dog’s trash can fascination, as understanding the underlying reasons can greatly assist in finding a solution. We will also cover various preventive measures, including both training techniques and environmental modifications, that can help deter your dog from performing this unwanted behavior. Furthermore, we will explore specific products and tools that can aid in keeping your trash can secure and inaccessible. Remember, consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key when tackling this issue. So let’s get started on our journey towards helping your dog break free from the temptation of the trash can!


What are effective methods to prevent dogs from digging in the trash can?

Dogs digging in the trash can be a common and frustrating problem for pet owners. By understanding the reasons behind this behavior and implementing effective strategies, you can successfully prevent your dog from digging in the trash. In this article, we will discuss various techniques and steps you can take to stop your furry friend from rummaging through your garbage. From proper training and supervision to providing alternative outlets for their energy, we will explore everything you need to know to maintain a garbage-free household. So, let’s dive in and discover how to keep your trash can safe from your curious canine companion!

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Why Does My Dog Dig in the Trash Can?

Dogs have a natural instinct to scavenge and explore their surroundings, which can sometimes lead to undesirable behaviors such as digging in the trash can. There are several reasons why your dog may be engaging in this behavior:

  • Curiosity: Dogs are naturally curious creatures, and the trash can is a treasure trove of interesting smells and potentially tasty snacks.
  • Hunting Instincts: Some dogs have a strong prey drive and may view the trash can as an opportunity to hunt for food.
  • Boredom: If your dog lacks mental stimulation or physical exercise, they may resort to digging in the trash can as a form of entertainment.
  • Attention-seeking: Dogs may also dig in the trash can to get attention from their owners, especially if they have learned that this behavior elicits a response.
  • Separation Anxiety: In some cases, dogs may dig in the trash can as a result of anxiety or stress when left alone.

Stopping a Dog from Digging in the Trash Can

If your furry companion has developed a habit of digging in the trash can, there are several effective strategies you can try:

  1. Secure the Trash Can: Ensure that your trash can is securely closed and cannot be easily accessed by your dog. Consider using a trash can with a lid that locks or keeping the trash can in a cabinet or behind a closed door.
  2. Remove Temptation: Minimize your dog’s exposure to tempting smells by rinsing food containers before throwing them away and wrapping food scraps in plastic bags or newspaper.
  3. Provide Mental Stimulation: Engage your dog’s mind with puzzle toys, interactive games, and training sessions. Mental stimulation can help redirect their focus and prevent boredom-related behaviors.
  4. Increase Physical Exercise: Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise to burn off excess energy. Regular walks, playtime, and other physical activities can help reduce their desire to engage in undesirable behaviors.
  5. Use Deterrents: Consider using deterrents such as bitter sprays or pet-safe products that create an unpleasant or strong smell around the trash can. This can help discourage your dog from approaching it.
  6. Provide Alternative Options: Give your dog appropriate outlets for their natural digging instincts. Create a designated digging area in your backyard, filled with sand or dirt, and encourage your dog to use it by burying toys or treats.
  7. Seek Professional Help: If your dog’s trash-digging behavior persists despite your efforts, consult with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide personalized guidance and develop a training plan tailored to your dog’s specific needs.
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Statistic to Consider

A survey conducted by the American Kennel Club found that approximately 65% of dog owners reported having issues with their dogs digging in the trash can at least once.


1. Why does my dog keep digging in the trash can?

There could be several reasons why your dog is digging in the trash can. It might be seeking food, exploring scents, or even trying to alleviate boredom or anxiety.

2. Is it harmful for my dog to dig in the trash can?

Digging in the trash can be dangerous for your dog’s health. It can lead to ingestion of harmful substances, such as spoiled food or cleaning products, which can cause gastrointestinal issues and other health problems.

3. How can I prevent my dog from accessing the trash can?

There are several measures you can take to prevent your dog from accessing the trash can. You can keep it in a secured cabinet, use a trash can with a lid that locks, or place the trash can in an area your dog cannot access.

4. How can I discourage my dog from digging in the trash can?

Firstly, it’s important to ensure your dog is getting enough mental and physical stimulation through exercise and interactive toys. You can also use deterrents like bitter sprays on the trash can or reward-based training to redirect their behavior.

5. What if my dog ignores the deterrents and continues to dig in the trash can?

If your dog continues to dig in the trash can despite deterrents, you may need to consider using a crate or gated area to restrict their access when you cannot supervise them. It’s also recommended to seek guidance from a professional dog trainer or behaviorist.

6. Should I punish my dog for digging in the trash can?

Punishing your dog for digging in the trash can is not recommended. Negative reinforcement can confuse your dog and may lead to fear or anxiety. It’s more effective to focus on positive reinforcement and redirecting their behavior towards acceptable alternatives.

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7. Can certain breeds be more prone to digging in the trash can?

While individual dogs may vary, some breeds are known to be more prone to scavenging behaviors. Breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Beagles, and Dachshunds, which have a strong food drive or scenting instinct, might be more inclined to dig in the trash can.

8. How long does it usually take to stop a dog from digging in the trash can?

The time it takes to stop a dog from digging in the trash can can vary depending on the dog and the methods used. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key. It may take a few weeks or even months to break the habit completely.

9. Are there any alternatives to the trash can for disposing of waste?

Yes, there are alternatives to the traditional trash can for disposing of waste that can help prevent your dog from accessing it. Consider using a dog-proof trash container, composting organic waste, or using a secure outdoor trash bin.

10. Can professional training help with my dog’s trash can digging behavior?

Yes, professional training can be beneficial in addressing your dog’s trash can digging behavior. Trainers can provide guidance, customized strategies, and techniques to modify your dog’s behavior effectively and ensure a long-term solution.


In conclusion, stopping a dog from digging in the trash can requires a combination of preventive measures, behavior training, and providing alternative options for your pet. Firstly, it is crucial to secure the trash can by using a latching lid or placing it in a closed cabinet to prevent easy access. Additionally, removing the temptation by emptying food scraps into a designated dog-proof container can discourage your pet from digging. Secondly, consistent training is essential to teach your dog commands such as ‘leave it’ or ‘drop it,’ which will help deter them from approaching the trash. Positive reinforcement through rewards or treats can further reinforce good behavior. Tackling boredom is also crucial, as dogs often dig in the trash out of frustration or as a source of entertainment. Offering plenty of exercise, interactive toys, and mental stimulation can help redirect their energy in more appropriate ways. Lastly, seeking professional help from a certified animal behaviorist or trainer may be necessary if your dog’s behavior persists despite your efforts. With patience and consistency, it is possible to train your dog to refrain from digging in the trash can and promote a clean and safe environment for both your pet and your home.