How to Keep the Dog Out of the Garbage

Learning how to keep the dog out of the garbage is essential, not only because of the mess, but because of how dangerous it can be for them.  Below is a picture of the mess I found upon returning home one day. Little dachshund, Taz had helped herself to the garbage!

I have to say that yes, I was shocked and overwhelmed with the enormous mess – but more importantly, I was scared and concerned about what Taz might have eaten. I know certain foods can be harmful (even toxic/fatal) for dogs, and knowing, for example, that this day’s garbage contained coffee grounds, I knew Taz could be in serious danger from becoming ill.

How to Keep the Dog Out of the Garbage

It’s Not Just the Mess

It’s important to learn how to keep the dog out of the garbage not only to prevent a huge mess, but for their health and safety. I once had a beagle named Daisy. I caught her red-handed one day getting into the garbage. I heard the tipping over of the can, the rustling of the garbage bag…I snuck out to the kitchen and as soon as I yelled, “Daisy!”…GULP…she swallowed a whole piece of chicken. I scolded her and cleaned up the mess and didn’t think much more of it.

Later that evening, she began coughing. It continued all through the night. The next morning, I took her to the vet. Turns out she had a two-inch long chicken bone lodged HORIZONTALLY in her throat! The vet was able to give her a mild sedative and remove the bone with large “tweezers.” He said if that had been unsuccessful and she had swallowed the bone, it would likely have resulted in surgery, serious illness, and possibly even death.

How to Keep the Dog Out of the GarbageDogs Can Die from Getting into the Garbage

I watched Taz getting into the garbage on the back patio one day while I was mowing the lawn.  If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I never would’ve believed what she did.  There was a large black garbage bag sitting on the patio, full of garbage.  Next to it was a large, plastic recycle bin.  As I mowed the grass, I noticed Taz eyeing up the recycle bin.  I could actually see the wheels turning in her little head – she was trying to figure out a way to get into it!

I watched her as she actually pulled on the large black garbage bag – tugging, tugging, tugging – until she got it close to the recycle bin.  Then she used the garbage bag to climb up onto the recycle bin – and wah-la!  She had full access to the bin!

I thought this was hilarious, and I couldn’t have been more proud of my little midget.  Honestly, can you believe how smart she is?  But then something happened that made me realize that this is a very dangerous thing, dogs getting into the garbage.  Taz pulled a large, empty potato chip bag from the bin and proceeded to try to get crumbs from the bottom of it.  She put her head completely into the chip bag and could not get her head out.

She began to panic and was frantically running around the patio.  I stopped the mower and rescued her.  I admit this is quite comical, but truly – what if she had been home alone when she did this?  What if she had suffocated?  Dogs have died this way.

how to keep the dog out of the garbageTips for How to Train a Dog to Stay Out of the Garbage

Keep the trash can out of reach of the dog. Put it up on the counter, out in the garage, or even just under the kitchen sink with a child-proof lock on the cupboard.

Add weight. If you have a small dog, the solution might be as simple as adding weight to the bottom of the trash can.  You can use actual weights, or something like sand, kitty litter, or a brick.  If the dog is too small to reach into the garbage can, and too small to knock or tip the can over, this is an effective tip.

Purchase a garbage can with a lock on it. (Click HERE)

Put up baby gate to close off the room where the garbage is.  (Click HERE).

Give the dog something else to do.  When you’re away, try hiding treats around the house for the dog to find.  Or else purchase a Kong Toy – rubber dog toys that have a treat stuffed inside – my doxy chases hers all evening!

Don’t set your dog up to fail.  Honestly, if you have chicken bones, scraps of meat, or any kind of sniff-able food in the garbage can, the dog is going to be tempted to try to get it. Don’t get mad at your dog if YOU are not smart enough to realize that and get the garbage out of his reach.

how to keep the dog out of the garbageFor More Help

For more information and help with this and other dog behavioral issues, visit this fantastic video-based dog training website, The Online Dog Trainer. They offer a $1 3-day trial! 

keep dog out of trash

keep dog out of garbageI Donate to Animal Charities

Thank you for visiting my website.  I donate 10% of all commissions I make on this website to animal charities.  You can see a list of the charities I donate to here.  If you like this website, please share it with your friends – every purchase helps animals!  Debra

running-dogFor More About Dog Training, CLICK HERE



12 thoughts on “How to Keep the Dog Out of the Garbage”

  1. Hi Debra,

    Those are all fabulous ideas. Honestly, I’ve never had a problem with my dogs going through the trash, probably because they’re just too small. I did once have a cat that was obsessed with the garbage bin though (but we’d found her as a feral young adult and “tamed” here, but she still stayed a garbage hunter).

    I absolutely adore dogs, especially big dogs, so I’ll have to remember these tips for future reference! I never would have thought about putting weights at the bottom of the bin, but it is quite a simple solution.

    Thanks again!


    1. Oh my gosh, that’s so funny – I’ve had cats all my life and never once did I ever have one try to get into the garbage. I guess they’re guilty too! 🙂 Hmmmm….I wonder if there were any times I blamed the dog when actually it was the cat! HA! Thanks so much for the comment.

  2. I have two dogs and when they get in the trash I get angry. But my anger is because of the mess. It never occurred to me that something in there could cause them harm. Thank you for that.

    What a wonderful reminder of how quickly our pets can harm themselves from something as simple as a trash can.

    What do you suggest for larger dogs? I have two large dogs and only one of them is a dumpster diver. There are 6 people living in my house so we create a lot of trash.

    We have a big trash can that can’t fit under the sink. What do you suggest?

  3. Hi Debra,
    Love the post. Your personal stories with this issue were humorous but at the same time unnerving when you explained what could’ve happened had you not been there. The video was also a nice touch. It’s amazing to me when they figure out how to open things on their own. I’ve actually had this problem but our solution was to lock our dogs in our bedrooms (no trash there). I’ve never thought to hide treats in rubber toys or around the house, but that sounds like a more fun idea, I don’t really like locking them up, sounds like jail. Thanks for the new ideas! Good luck to you and your Taz, my regards to Daisy wherever she may be. 🙂

    1. Hi Kris, Thank you for the kind comments. If your dogs don’t ruin anything else in the house, maybe you should get a locking garbage can or else put the can outside or something so you don’t have to lock them in the bedroom. But don’t feel too guilty about it – they probably nap while you’re gone anyway. 🙂 Debra

  4. We are fortunate in that our current dog has no interest in getting into the trash. She will beg and she will scrounge the floor for dropped crumbs, but will not get into any trash cans.

    The can we keep in our kitchen is a heavy stainless steel one with a lid and none of our dogs have ever been able to topple it. Where we have had issues is with bathroom trash bins which is kind of funny because we never throw any food stuff in those at all. We had a doxie who loved to go into them and get a tissue and tear it to tiny shreds, though.

    I also love your idea about the kong toy. We have one but I’ve never thought to leave it out for Izzie when we leave the house. We’re going to give that a shot.

    1. I also have a doxie and she gets into the bathroom garbage – I think it’s the tissues – the tearing up of the paper, like you said. When I was a kid our poodle, Pepi would do the same thing. Only one time there was a piece of gum in the garbage can and he was chewing it and getting it all over his paws! He was a sticky mess when we got home – ha! Thanks so much for the comment. 🙂

  5. Hi there Debra,

    This article reminds me how my old dog used to scavenge my garbage for – of all things – tissues and toilet papers. He had an obsession for those items and it was so gross. Once, I caught him literally trying to swallow them and I reacted by yelling at him.

    It didn’t put a stop to his weird behavior though and really, there’s no where else to throw tissues besides the garbage. I ended up locking the room and sometimes, I swear I could hear him scratching the door as if he wanted to get something from the inside.

    Such a funny dog.

    1. When I was a kid our poodle, Pepi had the same obsession with the bathroom garbage. One time there was gum in there – he chewed it – got it all over his paws and face! It was a nightmare getting all that gum out of his fur. So I agree…such a funny dog! LOL!

  6. I have a 13 lb. Bichon Frieshe. I know my dog will go thru any available trash. So if she gets in to it I get frustrated at myself rather than her because she was just being herself. She hasn’t bothered my office trash, (just bathroom and kitchen) but I am careful to only put junk mail and other paper products into that trash can. Here’s what I didn’t expect. I moved my fish bowl to the center of my breakfast table and set their fish food beside it. The fish food is about the size of a prescription bottle with a screw on lid about the diameter the size of a quarter. What I didn’t expect was for her to get onto the table, get down in the floor with the fish food, get the bottle open, and start eating the fish food flakes. I wasn’t so surprised at her getting onto the table because she will do that to sniff around if I leave a chair not completely pushed into the table allowing her enough room to use the chair as a step stool to get onto the table. The first time I saw her eating the fish food I dismissed it thinking I probably hadn’t securely closed the bottle. I was sure to close the bottle as much as possible from then own. However she repeated her performance. She taught me to keep the fish food in the upper kitchen cabinet.

      1. Hi Joyce. OMG that’s hilarious! Dogs are SO smart! I once watched my doxy Taz strategically pull a large full garbage bag over to the recycle bin on my patio. She then used the garbage bag to stand on, so she could get into the recycle bin! Then promptly pulled an empty potato chip bag out of the recycle bin, and got her head stuck in it! So I had to rescue her. LOL She was brilliant -as most dogs are! Thank you for sharing this, “something fishy’s going on!” story. 🙂 PS I’m glad she didn’t dump the fish bowl and eat the fish! LOL

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.