If you’ve had dogs for any length of time, you’ve surely come home to find the kitchen littered with the contents of your trashcan.
There may or may not be a guilty-looking dog in the vicinity (some prefer to hide in these occasions).
While this can certainly be comical in the abstract, it is insanely frustrating to deal with this kind of problem on a daily basis. But your dog getting into the trash isn’t only frustrating – it can be dangerous too.
If you think it is no fun coming home to a kitchen floor full of garbage, imagine how much worse you’d feel if you were also greeted by an injured or sick pup (along with a frantic trip to the emergency pet hospital)!
Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use to help keep your dog out of the trash. One of the easiest methods of prevention is through the use of a dog-proof can.
Check out the chart below if you are just looking for a quick recommendation, or read on to learn more about dog-proof trashcans, the reasons most dogs go dumpster diving, and some additional tips for keeping your dog out of the garbage.
Quick Picks: Best Dog-Proof Trash Can
- #1 Pick: SimpleHuman Butterfly Trash Can. Slick and durable, this trash can’s butterfly open top helps prevent your pooch from digging his head inside. The silent close lid helps stop your pup from getting excited when he hears you toss food out.
- #2 Pick: SimpleHuman Semi-Round Step Trash Can. A fairly simple yet high-quality step-activated trash can with a sliding lock to keep your dog out of the trash.
- #3 Pick: Rubbermaid Defenders Trash Can. This trash can finds most of its strength in its weight – it’s too heavy for most dogs to knock over, with its steel outer shell.
A Dog-Proof Trash Can Help Keep You, Your Dog, and Your Family Safe
Let’s be clear: Pet-proof waste bins aren’t just helpful, they’re actually necessary. In fact, dogs who get into trash cans can cause five serious problems:
- Poor Hygiene – Your trashcan is undoubtedly full of disgusting, bacteria-laden items. These bacteria will not only wind up coating your dumpster-diving dog’s coat, they’ll end up smeared all over your kitchen too.
- Choking and Obstruction Hazards – Bones, plastic food containers, and other indigestible items lurking in your trashcan may cause your dog to choke. Even those things that your dog manages to swallow may cause problems further along in his digestive tract.
- Dangerous Foods – Your trash can may contain a variety of things that could poison or otherwise sicken your dog. This includes things like chocolate, sugar-free gum, onions, garlic, walnuts or grapes.
- Harmful Chemicals – Many garbage bins contain cleaning products, insecticides, detergents, and other dangerous chemicals. These things can cause your dog to become very sick.
- Cuts and Puncture Wounds – Sharp things – including tin can lids, broken glass and wooden skewers – sitting in your trashcan may cut or puncture your dog’s mouth or face while he’s rooting through the garbage.
What to Look for in a Pet-Proof Trash Can
There are a number of different dog-proof trash cans and lids on the market, but that doesn’t mean they all perform the desired function. In fact, dogs frequently make quick work of substandard products.
You can avoid this type of frustration by looking for the following features in your pet-proof trash can:
Make sure you purchase a trashcan made of adequately strong material. Dogs have strong jaws, capable paws, and sharp minds; trashcans made from flimsy plastic are unlikely to last very long. While your dog probably isn’t going to just chew through the side, the hinges and lip are often the weak spots they target.
Be sure that the lid will stay on, once the can has been tipped over. Many dog-proof garbage cans have lids designed to keep dogs out, but they immediately become worthless once tipped over. As your dog will no doubt attempt to knock down the can during the process, these kinds of trash cans rarely help.
Try to select the largest can that will work inside or outside your home. In general, larger can are heavier and more robust than smaller cans, which will provide some additional resiliency in the face of a hungry and determined dog.
5 Best Pet-Proof Trash Cans and Accessories
1. Simple Human Butterfly Trash Can
About: The Simplehuman Butterfly Trash Can is a sturdy stainless steel trash can worthy of keeping your canine out of the garbage. The step pedal and butterfly opening makes it easy to toss out rubbish, while still proving to be too challenging for your pooch to conquer.
- Strong steel pedal and fingerprint-proof stainless steel exterior
- Slim shape allows it to fit even in tight spacing
- Silent close lid prevents your pooch from getting riled up when you toss food waste out
Most dog owners who tried the Simplehuman Butterfly Trash Can found that it did the job, and they were ecstatic to finally find a solution to their trash-eating troubles.
The Simplehuman Dog-Proof Bin had very few complaints – only a few individuals out of many noted that crumbs can sometimes get stick in the lip lid area.
Dimensions / Capacity
- 11.9-Gallon Capacity (aka 45 liters)
- 23.3 x 10.4 x 26 inches
2. Simplehuman Semi-Round Step Trash Can
About: The Simplehuman Semi-Round Trash Can is a sleek and stylish trash can, with a secure slide lock to keep your dog out of the trash when you leave him unattended. Despite the fact that it is a robust, secure garbage bin, it will not look out-of-place in your kitchen.
- Available in seven different attractive finishes (blue, stone, black, fuchsia, grey, violet and mocha)
- Steel pedal is strong and built to last
- Shock absorbing technology ensures smooth, quiet closing
- Comes with a 5-year warranty
Most users found this dog proof garbage can attractive, secure and well-made. Many remarked that the tiny details of quality (such as the metal bar on the back of the lid which prevents the lid from banging into the wall when it opens) helped elevate the trashcan even more.
While this functions as a moderately dog-proof kitchen trash can, it isn’t explicitly designed or marketed to be. A few users had trouble assembling the trashcan, but most did so without difficulty.
Dimensions / Capacity
- 13-gallon capacity
- 14 x 18.9 x 26.5 inches
3. Toter Trash Can With Wheels and Lid
About: The Toter Trash Can probably falls into the overkill category, but it is just what the doctor ordered for owners of particularly problematic pooches. One of the toughest garbage cans on our list, owners of big, determined dogs should give it plenty of consideration.
- Made with a rugged rim and bottom wear strip for added strength
- Features two wheels, making it easy to tilt and roll into place
- Blackstone finish helps to mask scratches and other wear and tear, keeping it beautiful for years
If you have a serious problem with dogs (be they yours or someone else’s) getting into your trashcan, but you still want a more-or-less normal-looking trashcan, this is your best option. It features all of the durability you’d want, and will easily keep dogs (and other critters) from getting into the trash.
The smaller size is probably better suited for indoor use, but you’ll pay almost the same for the smaller unit as you would the much larger version.
Dimensions / Capacity:
Available in 64- and 96-gallon sizes
4. Rubbermaid Commercial Defenders Trash Can
About: The Rubbermaid Commercial Defenders Trash Can is not specifically designed to be a dog-proof receptacle, but for smaller dogs, it may as well be Fort Knox. The heavy lid, foot-operated opening mechanism and strong construction materials make it worthy of consideration for small-dog owners.
- Steel outer shell, with plastic inner liner makes it strong, yet easy to clean
- Odor seal gasket helps keep your pup from smelling things in the garbage
- Attractive red finish will look great in your home
- Foot-operated lid pedal provides hands-free operation
The construction of this unit is second-to-none. Although large and strong dogs may find ways to lift the lid (or even learn to step on the pedal), it’s likely to be a good choice for owners of smaller pups, who don’t mind shelling out serious bucks.
The lid to this does not lock, but the overall heft of the unit and steel outer shell will provide some protection from your dog getting into the can. Additionally, this is a very pricey trash can, thanks to its steel construction.
Dimensions / Capacity
- 24-Gallon Capacity
- 375 inches x 20.375 inches x 32.365 inches
5. Lid Loc Dog Proof Trash Can Lid
About: The Lid Loc is not a garbage can; rather, it is an animal-proof lid strap, designed to be used with most standard curbside trashcans. Just attach the cleat and drill a hole into the lid, and the Lid Loc will keep critters out by keeping the lid securely bungeed down.
- Cheap, affordable solution
- Simple to install through the use of a drill and screwdriver
- Made in the USA
This is a quick, easy and affordable option for upgrading your existing trashcan. In addition to preventing your dog from accessing the trash, the Lid Loc will also help to keep out squirrels, raccoons and rainwater.
Most reviewers reported good results from the Lid Loc, although a drill and screwdriver are required for the installation. Luckily, the company provides an easy-to-follow video!
The Three Reasons Dogs Are Compelled to Dig Through the Trash
Every dog is different, but most get into the trash for one of three common reasons. It is important to understand why your dog is getting into the garbage, so that you can have the best chance at putting a stop to the behavior.
Most dogs get into the garbage bin for one of three reasons:
1. Your pooch is hungry
You may feed your dog a perfectly nutritious diet, but if you don’t feed him enough calories, his stomach may not feel adequately full. Remember, for example, that your pup’s food needs will increase as he grows – if you don’t adjust his food intake, he may always be hungry.
Additionally, if this occurs regularly, such as right before you get home in the evening, you may be forcing him to wait too long between meals. In this case, an automated feeding system on a timer may be a solid solution.
2. They smell something irresistible
This is commonly the reason a normally well-behaved pup gets into the trash as a one-off.
Perhaps the family had ribs last night, and he just can’t resist the delicious trash odors coming from the garbage can, or maybe that bacon grease you discarded yesterday is just driving him crazy.
In such cases, it is best to double- or triple-bag potentially tempting items, or simply empty the trash and take trash bags out to the curb more frequently – especially after drool-worthy meals.
3. They are bored, frustrated or anxious
This often occurs among those dogs suffering from separation anxiety.
Bored, lonely and even a bit afraid, they go through the house looking for things to make them feel better (let’s face it, humans are also pretty guilty of emotional eating).
Popping open the garbage bin and chewing on the tasty things inside is a great way to cheer up (from your dog’s point of view). In such cases, you’ll likely have to address the underlying problem to halt his dumpster-diving behaviors.
- Try giving your dog some brain-stimulating toys to play with while you’re away
- Ensure your dog is getting enough exercise
- Combat boredom by giving your dog plenty to do when you can’t stay and play
But regardless of why your pup is getting into the trash, a dog-proof can or is imperative for his health and safety.
Alternative Strategies and Dog Trash Can Deterrents: Stop Your Pup from Dumpster Diving
While the above garbage cans and lids will probably help keep your trash locked up safe and sound, you can also do a few different things to help reduce the chances that your dog will get into the garbage (and keep him out of the cat’s litter box as well).
- Provide more appropriate alternatives for your pup’s frustration. Consider giving your dog with a puzzle toy or even a treat dispensing toy to occupy his focus and keep him busy. A KONG packed with a delicious paste (even regular old peanut butter would work) tucked inside may give your dog something to do for hours.
- Deny him access to the can entirely. If you are still having trouble keeping your garbage can secure, consider moving the can to a place your dog can’t access it. Perhaps you can install and under-counter trashcan, or you could start keeping the trashcan in a pantry that remains shut most of the time. You may even be able to rearrange tables or other items to deny him access to the can. If your dog is getting into the bathroom trash, make a habit keeping the bathroom door closed at all times.
- Spray a dog trash can deterrent around the lip and sides of the can. Substances like Bitter Apple and other foul-smelling sprays are sometimes very helpful in adjusting your dog’s behaviors. You can also make these kinds of sprays yourself, but it is usually just easier to purchase a ready-made version.
- Get your dog more exercise and interaction with his person. If your dog is getting into the trash because he is bored or frustrated, a little more time with his puppy parent may help alleviate these destructive behaviors. As they say, a tired dog is a good (and happy) dog.
- Enlist the help of a certified trainer. It is unlikely that any trainer can convince your dog that chicken-wing-leftovers aren’t delicious, but a good dog trainer can help you teach your dog that the garbage bin is off limits. This will take plenty of work and effort (as well as more exercise and interaction as explained above), but it can be effective if you stick to it.
- Empty the trash more frequently. Dogs are less likely to get into a can that is mostly empty, so empty the trashcan more often if that is possible. It bears mentioning that removing recyclable and compostable materials from your trash will also help reduce the amount of trash you produce. This is especially important to do before leaving your dog unattended for a long period of time.
Dog-Proof Trash Cans: FAQ
As many dog owners know, it can be surprisingly tricky to protect your trash from your pooch! In fact, it is a subject that causes owners to have a number of pretty common questions. We’ll try to answer a few of them below.
How do you dog-proof a trash can?
To dog-proof a trash can, you can simply incorporate a bungee cord (although this may require drilling holes into your existing trash can). Another option is to seek out a trash can with more dog-proofing features. Step-on lids,
Keeping your dog out of the garbage can definitely be a frustrating endeavor. Just be sure to keep the above tips in mind and try to select the best option for your dog.
Remember, it isn’t always necessary to have a Fort-Knox-like trashcan for every dog – some are dissuaded more easily than others!
Have you had any success keeping your dog out of the trash? How did you go about combatting the problem? Let us know all about it in the comments below.