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10 Great Tips on How to Dog-Proof a Trash Can: Vet Approved Advice & Choices

Written by: Cassidy Sutton

Last Updated on May 31, 2024 by Dogster Team

Beautiful German Shepard Dog walking around an old Trash Can

10 Great Tips on How to Dog-Proof a Trash Can: Vet Approved Advice & Choices


Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you’ve owned a dog for five minutes, you know that the trash can is a source of annoyance and frustration. Who wants to walk into the kitchen only to find rotten garbage dispersed all over the floor?

But before you scold your dog, ask yourself what you can do to fix the problem, first. The truth is that dogs will always get into the trash, no matter how well-behaved. What may seem no-good to us might seem like a delicious meal to a dog. To avoid the problem altogether, we have to make adjustments.

And that’s precisely why you’re here. So, without further ado, let’s dive into our favorite 10 tips on dog-proofing your trash can.

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The 10 Great Tips on How to Dog Proof a Trash Can

1. Keep the Trash Can in the Pantry (or a Closet)

Dogs can be clever when they smell something that tingles their noses. So, to avoid a giant trash pile all over the floor, keep the trash can locked away in the pantry or nearby closet. It really is the best way to keep your dog out of the trash.

2. Opt for a Smaller Trash Can

Taking out the trash daily ensures no leftovers from the previous night, so no lingering smells will entice your dog to dig for treasure. This may not be ideal if you have a large trash can, so we recommend buying a smaller trash can that fills quickly. Your house will smell better, and your dog will have less opportunity to eat garbage.

3. Add a Child-Proof Lock

Dogs are a lot like toddlers. They get into everything they’re not supposed to. Usually, it’s because whatever they got into wasn’t locked away properly. A nice way to avoid this is by adding a child-proof lock to your trash can or the cabinet hiding the trash can. Or, you can find a trash can with a lock on the side.

4. Add a Bungee Cord

Another cheap way to dog-proof your trash can is by adding a bungee cord to the outside of your bin. It’s inconvenient since you must unlatch the cord to throw something away every time. But it can act as a temporary solution until you find a new trash can.

dog sits behind a trash can full of dog droppings
Image By: Nehris, Shutterstock

5. Avoid Motion Sensor Trash Cans

Some dog owners opt for a trash can with a motion sensor connected to the lid, which can be a mistake. Motion sensors may work for small dogs, but they don’t work for big dogs. Any medium to large dog breed can easily pass its snout over the motion sensor and open the lid. It’s best to avoid these trash cans if you have a large dog breed.

6. Choose a Can with a Heavier Lid

Plastic trash cans are cheap, but they don’t have much weight, making it easy for dogs to knock the can over or lift up the lid. An easy way to avoid this is by opting for a metal trash can with a heavier lid or a trash can with a non-traditional opening like the butterfly lid.

7. Weigh Down the Lid

If you don’t want to spend money on an expensive, high-tech trash can, simply add weight to the lid using a heavy object like a phone book or textbook.

closeup of young white great pyrenees dog looking up at owner outside at home porch
Image By: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock

8. Use a Tilt-Out Trash Can Cabinet

This may require a bit of construction, but tilt-out trash cans do their job by keeping the dogs at bay. They’re easily accessible for humans if you’re okay with opening and closing a drawer each time, but you have to open and close a trash can lid anyway. They’re relatively inexpensive, and you gain some extra countertop space. It’s a win-win!

9. Try Apple Cider Vinegar

Try soaking a washcloth in apple cider vinegar and placing it in your trash can. The smell alone should keep your pet away, but the scent will fade over time, so it’s not a good permanent solution.

10. Try a Pressurized Spray Can

Another option is using a pressurized spray can. It uses motion-activated infrared to track movement. When someone passes by, it safely sprays an odorless mist to scare away your cat or dog. You can adjust how far the spray reaches, too. The downside is that it sprays when you walk by. But it’s worth trying if your dog likes to dig into the trash at night or while you’re away.

mist sprayer on the table at home
Image Credit: Titikul_B, Shutterstock

The 5 Best Dog-Proof Trash Cans

So now you know what to do and what to look for. But we want to help you further by listing some dog-proof trash can options in case buying a new one is what you want. Every household is different, so we’ve listed five types of trash cans that we believe are suitable for most homes.

1. Simplehuman Kitchen Step Trash Can

Simplehuman Kitchen Step Trash Can

The Simplehuman Kitchen Step trash can is a straightforward trash can with a step to open the lid hands-free. We like that this trash can is affordable and has a wide opening for dumping food, dirt, and other materials that could easily spill onto the outside of your trash can. The lid can also stay open if you need it to. The best part is the side lock which secures the lid so your dog can’t lift it open with its nose.

This is a lightweight trash can, so a big dog can easily knock it over. But if you don’t want to spend over a hundred dollars on a vessel that holds your garbage, we highly recommend this trash can.

  • Wide opening
  • Affordable
  • Side lock
  • Stays open if needed
  • Lightweight

2. Simplehuman Butterfly Kitchen Step Trash Can

Simplehuman Butterfly Kitchen Step Trash Can

If you need a trash can with a non-traditional lid, we recommend the Simplehuman Butterfly Kitchen Step trash can. When you step on the pedal, the lid splits open like french doors, making it difficult for a dog to reach inside. We also like that the can is slender and has a silent-close lid.

This trash can has a narrow opening and requires custom-fit liners, so it may not work if you need something basic.

  • Difficult for dog to reach head into
  • Slender
  • Silent close lid
  • Narrow opening
  • Requires custom-fit liners

3. Simplehuman Kitchen Cabinet Pull-Out Trash

Simplehuman Kitchen Cabinet Pull-Out Trash

Another Simplehuman trash can we love is the kitchen cabinet pull-out trash can. The trash can works like a basic trash can. The only difference is where you place it. We also like that it comes with a stainless-steel handle for easy access. You’ll need to install the glides in a cabinet for the trash can to work, which requires tools. But a simple drill and some screws should take care of the project.

  • Can hide away in a cabinet
  • Easy to install
  • Comes with a handle for easy access
  • Requires a lock on the cabinet
  • Requires tools and installation

4. SONGMICS Two-Compartment Trash Can

SONGMICS Two-Compartment Trash Can

Some households need a two-compartment trash can for garbage and recycling. The SONGMICS trash can is a slender, rectangular trash can that does just that. You can separate your trash and your recycling and still keep your dog’s curiosity at bay. This trash can comes in different colors, too.

The downside is the price. It’s not cheap, and the narrow opening may be problematic for large amounts of trash. You also have to have custom-fit liners. But it does have two separate pedals for each compartment, and the lid closes softly.

  • Two compartments for trash and recycling
  • Slender
  • Comes in different colors
  • Narrow opening
  • Requires custom-fit liners
  • Expensive

5. UEV Wooden Tilt-Out Trash Cabinet

UEV Wooden Tilt-Out Trash Cabinet

This option is different from other trash cans. If your dog is a genius with trash can lids, try opting for UEV’s wooden tilt-out trash cabinet. It’s a nice option if you’re limited on countertop space in your kitchen. The tilt-out trash cabinet even comes with a drawer for extra storage.

Of course, you’ll have to assemble it, which requires tools. You also can’t fit a big trash can in this cabinet, so it may not work for big families. But for apartment dwellers or anyone who needs more space, this is a great option.

  • Multiple colors
  • Adds cabinet space
  • Cheaper than most trash cans
  • Assembly required
  • Tools required
  • For small trash cans

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Keeping the dog out of the trash is infuriating, but it is not impossible. With a few tweaks, you can secure your garbage without worrying if your dog ate something it wasn’t supposed to. You don’t have to dish out half your paycheck for a new trash can, either. Sometimes, you need to move the trash can or secure it in a way that puzzles your dog.

So, give these tips a shot and look into the trash cans we listed above. They’ll help prevent future stinky garbage clean-ups.

Featured Image Credit: Cheryl Ann Studio, Shutterstock

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