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Dog Proof Your Trash Can: How to Keep His Nose Out of the Waste Bin!

Updated on June 14, 2013
Sometimes dogs just can't resist the yummy smell of rotting trash!
Sometimes dogs just can't resist the yummy smell of rotting trash!

Dogs are notorious for sticking their noses where they don't belong. It's simply part of their nature to sniff out anything that smells good, even if it just so happens to be the trash can. It's never pleasant to walk into the kitchen and find the contents of your trash can spewed out all over the floor, the dog standing nearby with an empty food wrapper hanging out of his mouth. If only there were a way to keep the dog out of the trash can! Fret no more, here is a list of ways to discourage your dog from nosing around in your garbage.

Whatever you do, don't hit your dog. Physical violence will not teach your dog that he's doing something wrong. It will only make him afraid of you. It's important to establish trust between you and your dog. If he trusts you, he will be much more responsive to both positive and negative reinforcement for his behavior.

A Little Training

Something you may want to try is properly training your dog that the trash can is a big no-no. There are other tricks that might be quicker and easier, but this one will ensure that your dog knows right from wrong. You goal here is to try catching him red-handed. Even if he is just sniffing the trash can, you want to catch him at a time when he has turned his attention to the object you want him to ignore. Use your usual discouragement tactic. Some people say 'NO,' some snap their fingers, some clap their hands. Whatever you think will get his attention, while conveying the idea that he's just done something bad. It's important to be consistent. Use the same tactic every time.

If Your Dog is Short:

He's probably figured out that tipping the trash can over will give him easy access to the contents inside. Chances are, he's too short to To solve this problem, you need to make it difficult for him to tip the can. Since he isn't tall enough to just reach in and pull the trash out, this will eliminate the problem. Place a small stack of bricks (heavy rocks work, too) on the very bottom of the can, underneath the trash bag. The amount of weight you need depends on the weight of your dog. Start small, and keep on adding weight until your dog can no longer pull the trash can over.

If Your Dog is Tall:

If your dog is tall enough to stick his nose into the trash without knocking it over, this option is more relevant to you. You need to do something that makes dumpster diving an unpleasant experience for you dog. Try lining the rim of the trash can with a layer of ground black pepper. Once your dog gets a whiff of the pepper, he will be discouraged from pursuing the trash any further. Eventually he will begin to associate the trash can with this unpleasant experience, and he'll learn to avoid it. If pepper doesn't seem to work on him, try dousing the trash with white vinegar. Both pepper and white vinegar are completely harmless to your dog, and have a very unappealing smell.

Add a Lid!

If you don't have a trash can with a lid, it's highly advisable that you invest in one. While your dog may still be able to push it over, the presence of a lid may be all you need to discourage him from snooping in the trash. A lid will help mask the smell of food, and your dog is much less likely to try getting into it if he can't figure out how to get passed the lid.

I've included a few links (on the right) that can help you out if you need to purchase a covered trash can. You can also buy them at just about any mass merchandise or home improvement store.

Pull a Triple Whammy!

If your dog continues to be persistent about the trash, use all of these methods at once. If it's too heavy to tip over, smells unpleasant, and has a lid, Fido would have to be crazy to keep trying. If all of these ideas are combined, the chances are very good that you will prevail in preventing your dog from rummaging in the trash.

However, if it's still not enough, I believe your final option is making the trash completely inaccessible to him. Put the trash in the cabinet under the kitchen sink, and install a latch so he can't open the cabinet. Take that, Fido!

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