How can I keep my dog from accessing the kitchen garbage can?

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It’s really not that difficult to modify your dog’s behavior of raiding the trash can. The first and most important thing is for her to never get the taste of table scraps to begin with—dogs love to eat, and never introducing her to a taste will keep her from wanting to experience the joys of thieving.

Sometimes. just feeding her more or giving her an extra walk or playtime will do the trick. Teach her a few obedience commands, and if she suffers from separation anxiety try leaving an article of your clothing with her when you have to be away from her.

Barring all that, here are some other ways to doggie-proof your trash can:

  • Keep outside garbage cans securely away from your dog’s reach, and make sure she can’t open them. There are garbage cans available with twist-locking lids or side locks that you pull up and over the lids to deter raccoons and other critters.
  • Consider pet-friendly but horrible-tasting deterrent sprays, cayenne pepper, or powders like bitter alum. They sometimes work—when they do, the dogs find them so unappetizing they will think twice about trying it again.
  • Say “no” and teach her the “Leave It!” command. Most well mannered dogs will not try to get into the garbage in your presence. If your dog understands NO or whichever word you use to tell her to stop, this is sometimes all you need to do. However, the dog might comply in your presence, but still do it when she is alone.

NOTE: “Leave It!” (sometimes called “drop it!) is probably one of the most useful commands you’ll ever use, and it’s easy to teach. Simply put an item in your hand and let the dog lick it, touch it and sniff it. But, as soon as the dog opens its mouth to grab it, move the item away and firmly say, “Leave It.” Try the process over again, until it understands what you want. Then, when it understands, praise the dog lavishly and then let her have the treat.

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