How to Get Your Dog to Stop Digging Trash

Does your dog like digging through the trash can all day long? If you’re tired of coming home to a messy trash party, it’s time to do something about it. Many dogs love digging through trash in search of food and quick snacks. Some even find it entertaining to throw things around. Either way, there is nothing you should be worried about if your dog likes digging through the trash. This is completely normal behavior based on their instincts for searching food and surviving.

However, you should keep in mind that trash digging can be dangerous for the dog. They could find a bone or spoiled food, which can cause stomach distress or even more serious consequences. You don’t want your dog to develop the habit of searching for trash both because it’s dangerous and it leaves a terrible mess. In this guide, you are going to learn why this habit can be harmful to your dog, as well as how you can teach them to stop digging trash.

Why Digging Through the Trash Is Bad for Your Dog

Household trashcans can contain various sharp items, bones, and food leftovers. None of these are safe for your dog to play with or consume. Naturally, dogs are curious and they will try to get their paws on those bones you threw away an hour ago. This can have serious consequences on their health, especially if they swallow the bone right out of the can. Sharp bones and items can cause stomach damage or get stuck in the gastrointestinal system.

This can cause a wide range of consequences, from constant vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea to serious damage to the gastrointestinal tract. If you think that your dog might have swallowed something from the trash, make sure to take him to the vet immediately. Vets have a special slang term for stomach damage and unrest caused by trash digging.

They call it “Garbage Enteritis.” To avoid any unwanted consequences, it is best to keep the dog away from the trashcan. You can do so by teaching the dog to stop digging the trash or, if he is too stubborn, simply put the trashcan somewhere the dog cannot reach it. Below is a brief guide on all the techniques you can use to train the dog to forget about this rebellious behavior.

How to Teach the Dog to Stop Digging Through Trash

When teaching the dog to stop digging through trash, it is important to catch him in the act and reach right away. Once you spot the dog in action, clap your hands loudly or use a whistle. The loud noise will scare the dog and make him jump away from the trash. He will look at you to see where the noise is coming from. As long as you clap really loudly with the intention to make him stop, the dog will understand the message.

Once you’ve got his attention, use the dog’s favorite toy to drag him away from the trash. Offer him a treat as a way of rewarding this behavior. Make sure to repeat this every time you catch the dog digging through the trash until he eventually loses this bad habit. It is also a good idea to give your dog small portions of food several times throughout the day to make sure he’s not hungry. If the dog is not hungry, he will less likely opt for the trashcan haul.

A proper amount of daily treats and nutritious meals should keep your dog from wanting to eat the bad-smelling content of your trashcan. Keep in mind that some dogs are more stubborn so they won’t give up on their hobby that easily. If your dog doesn’t stop digging through the trash after you’ve caught him in the act several times, you will have to proceed to step two. Use a dog repellent spray to keep the dog away from the can.

If this bad smell is not strong enough to keep your stubborn pet away, sprinkle some baking soda around the rim of the can. As soon as the dog tastes the baking soda, he will surely back away and regret his decision. How difficult it is going to be to teach your dog to stop digging through trash depends on the dog’s understanding of basic commands. It is always best to train your dog to recognize and respect basic commands such as sit, stay, and leave it.

Make sure to train your dog properly or take him to a training school if you need professional help. If none of the mentioned techniques work, you will simply have to remove the trashcan. You obviously cannot get rid of the trashcan entirely but try to put it somewhere where the dog won’t be able to reach it. If you have a balcony, it is a good idea to keep the trashcan out there and keep the door closed.

If that’s not an option either, you can use baby-proofing equipment and fences to block the dog’s access to the trash can. Get a sturdier and heavier trashcan that is more difficult to knock over. Smaller dogs won’t be able to get the best of it and they will eventually give up. However, if you’re consistent with training, you have a great shot at actually teaching the dog to keep away from the trashcan, no matter where it is located.


How many times have you come home to a mess in the kitchen and trash all over the house? It’s surely frustrating to see this happening over and over again. Let’s not forget all the damage that the bones and food in the trashcan can cause the dog. That’s why it is important to train him to stay away from the trash, both in the house and outdoors.

To summarize the training process, start by actively catching the dog in the act. Distract him with a toy and always reward him with a treat once he stops digging the trash. Make sure your dog knows the basic commands, which will make the training process a lot easier.

If he still continues digging through trash, use a dog repellent spray or baking soda on the can to keep him away. If the dog is still too stubborn, put the trashcan out of his reach and you’re good to go. Make sure to comment below whether these tips were helpful and share your previous experiences with teaching dogs to stop digging the trash.


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