How to keep the dog from raiding the trash can

Dear Denise,

My inside dog keeps digging in the trash can. I try to keep the lid closed, but sometimes we forget or he just knocks it off and goes for the contents. We’ve tried taking the trash out more often, but do you have other ideas for preventing this?

Thank you!

Dear Mama:

As you have probably already discovered scolding him doesn’t really work. It may keep him out of the trash when you are there, but it won’t keep him from doing it when you are gone. There are just too many yummy things in there (and he doesn’t get in trouble when you’re gone)! There are several solutions you can try.

A new trash can or relocation the old one, might be an easy fix. I like those ‘Stupid Human’ cans with the lever on the bottom that you must step on in order to open the lid, or putting the trash under the sink or in a closet.

Another solution, one a friend of mine uses, is that any ‘food’ trash or food scented trash, goes into a plastic bag in the freezer to be carried out with the trash later.

If you want to go the training route, then the trick is to make the trash bad instead of good. Try sprinkling some cayenne pepper on top of things you throw into the can, or using bitter spray (found in pet stores) on top of things as you toss them. Then, hopefully, if your dog does get into the trash it will be an unpleasant experience that he will not want to repeat.

Good luck,


Denise Holmes is a pet behavior counselor with over 25 years of experience. She focuses on family pet training and animal-assisted therapy.  She has consulted with Arkansas Children’s Hospital, helped set up a variety of local programs and produced a CD to help expecting parents introduce the family pet to a newborn,