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Dog-Proof Trash Cans: Foiling Sneaky Garbage Hounds

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There’s nothing quite like coming home from a long day, anticipating a relaxing evening on the couch. And then you open your door. Your dog’s wagging their tail in greeting. But behind them? All you see are the contents of the kitchen garbage spread throughout the house. And are those pickles on your dog’s nose? Your stress level hits maximum, especially when you start to think of everything in the trash. You need to look at dog-proof trash cans. And we have the best options for you.

Garbage Hounds

Some dogs can walk past a trash can without noticing it. Others? They need to examine every bin they encounter – outside OR inside. And if they have a chance to get into the garbage, they take it. They’re the same pups that probably drive you crazy sneaking into the litterbox or tearing up the yard.

Why are they so fascinated with the trash? Usually, it’s due to three main causes:

  • Hunger: Believe it or not, the “trash drive” is a simple search for calories. If dogs don’t get the right balance of nutrients, they may try to find other food sources. Or your late shift may mean dinner isn’t in the bowl when they expect it. A rumbling tummy can encourage them to seek out a meal somewhere else.
  • Smell: Trash cans contain leftover food. And canines have a fantastic sense of smell. Your dog can’t resist figuring out where that scent’s coming from.
  • Boredom: Pups with nothing better to do often turn to destructive behaviors. And, unfortunately, knocking over the trash can and pawing through the contents provides them with something to do.

Luckily, dog-proof trash cans work for EVERY kind of garbage-hunting hound.

Trash-Tastrophe

Obviously, no one likes finding their favorite canine sitting in the middle of a garbage explosion. It’s a mess that you need to clean. But dogs that get into the trash can also land themselves in the hospital. Plenty of hazards lurk in our trash bins. And if you don’t have a dog-proof trash can, your pup may end up exposed – by innocent accident.

And depending on how long items have remained in the trash, those bits of food can pose another hazard: mycotoxicosis. In a nutshell? Mold poisoning. Many canines enjoy things we find appalling, and they aren’t phased by food that’s spoiled. But their stomachs? That’s another story. And some molds are more dangerous than others.

You want to keep your furry friend out of the trash. It’s a cleanliness AND safety issue. And dog-proof trash cans do the trick.

Choosing a Dog-Proof Trash Can

There are THOUSANDS (maybe millions?) of trash cans out there. How to decide which are dog-proof? And then how do you find the best of the best? You want to make sure you keep an eye out for these important key features:

  • Materials: Plastic comes in plenty of attractive colors, but it’s no match for a curious, strong, or LARGE canine. Dog-proof trash cans are made of stainless steel. They contain odor better and hold up to potential abuse.
  • Security: The lid needs some form of a lock. This may mean a step or a sensor. The locking mechanism prevents your intelligent pup from getting the top open.
  • Capacity: You know the size of dog-proof trash can that will fit in your home. But, in this case, bigger is better. A larger bin will weigh more and resist attempts to topple.
  • Trash Bags: Most cans will use a standard trash bag. But you will stumble on bins that require a special liner. They’ll cost more and require special ordering. It’s okay if you don’t mind, but make sure you know what you’re getting into.

Additions to a Dog-Proof Trash Can

Dog-proof trash cans go a long way toward preventing the kitchen disasters you may have experienced in the past. But even the best bins aren’t perfect. Owners have giant breeds that can weigh over 200 pounds. It takes nothing for them to knock over even a steel can. (Not to mention they tower over most models)

So you may want to look at what’s driving your garbage hound’s behavior. And then you can take extra steps to keep them (and the house) safe.

First, make sure you empty the trash as frequently as possible. If there aren’t any interesting smells for your dog to investigate, they may lose interest. And an empty trash can is a boring trash can. You can also lower their interest by spraying deterrents around the bin. Of course, you want to make sure YOU can stand the smells you’re adding to your kitchen.

Then make sure you provide as many alternative play options as possible. Puzzle toys are great ways to engage a dog’s attention. If your dog needs more interaction with you, consider setting up a camera so you can speak with them while you’re away (and some let you toss out treats!)

Best Dog-Proof Trash Cans

You can only scrub your kitchen so many times before your nerves fray. And you don’t want to risk your dog’s health. We don’t think twice about what we toss into the trash. Plenty of those items are dangerous if swallowed or even chewed. Dog-proof trash cans help solve both problems. And while they’re a little larger and heavier than the average bin, they have the advantage of hands-free operation. That makes YOUR life easier when you have something heavy or messy to drop inside! It’s a win for everyone.

Best Dual Dog-Proof Trash Cans

Recycling and composting are important to people. So why not look for dog-proof trash cans that let you do both in one handy bin? Dual cans feature two separate containers in one housing. So you can decide if you want to double your trash options or separate them and use one for the recycling. Meanwhile, everything remains out of reach of curious canine noses and paws. You’ll need a little more space, but it beats needing to save room for TWO trash cans in the kitchen.

You’ll find iTouchless on this list a couple of times. Their Step Trash Can makes an ideal dog-proof trash can for anyone looking to separate their garbage and recycling. The two removable bins are 8 gallons each, with an individual foot pedal to operate each side. And inside? They’re color-coded, so everyone in the family knows which trash goes where. The bins come with handles to make it easy to remove them when it’s time to empty or change the bags. And an ordinary bag works fine. The smooth lids lock in place to keep out the household pup. And the stainless steel finish resists fingerprints (or noseprints).

Downsides? It is a bit on the bulky side. And the plastic bins inside aren’t the most durable, so you’ll need to take it easy. Also, unfortunately, putting bags on them can mean you’ll need to go slow with putting the bins in and out, or the bags will tear.

The Good

The Bad

SimpleHuman is another popular name in dog-proof trash cans, so you’ll see them a lot on this list. Their Dual Compartment Step Trash Can is another option that sports color-coded separate bins inside. You also get an extra slot in the back to hold bags, making it easy to pop out a new one each time you empty the bins. The soft-close lid overhangs the top, keeping those bags in place, too, so you won’t have to worry about them sliding around and tearing. The entire bin’s brushed stainless steel that comes in five colors. But it also has an antimicrobial coating to protect against any growth of bacteria, fungus, mold, or mildew.

The downsides? There’s a single pedal for operation, opening both bins at once. It’s not a deal-breaker but something to be aware of. And at 15 gallons, it’s a touch on the small side. But since you need to use custom bags, that’s already going to have to factor into your decision.

The Good

The Bad

SONGMICS makes the dual dog-proof trash can easy to empty and clean. Each of the 8-gallon bins has a metal handle attached. Simply lift, and you’re ready to go. And since the two bins have their own foot pedals and lids, you don’t have to open the entire lid at once if your recycling is the only thing you want to take out. The lid closes tight, but it comes down softly, so you won’t find your dog running away from a loud noise. And the powder-coated stainless steel is easy to keep clean.

So what are the downsides? You need to watch the handles when you put your bags in, as they may accidentally tear. And while this is one of the more affordable dog-proof trash cans, it shows. The lids are thinner, and if your dog knocks it over, they pop open.

The Good

The Bad

Best Step Dog-Proof Trash Cans

There’s nothing wrong with the average step dog-proof trash cans. They allow you to take garbage over when your hands are full. And the locking mechanisms keep pups out of trouble. You also won’t have to worry about batteries or cords to power a sensor. It’s a design that’s worked in plenty of households (including ours). Sometimes simple works best.

Most people recognize the Glad brand, and you won’t end up disappointed with this dog-proof trash can. It holds 13 gallons in a sleek rectangular bin that will resist tipping. A bag ring inside ensures your bag won’t slide around while keeping the trash can looking sleek. It comes in three stainless steel color finishes, all with a discrete bag holder on the back. And the lid locks in place, making it harder for your pup to jostle it out of place.

Downsides? The bag ring is nice – until you need to remove your bag. Then it tends to get in the way and cause problems. There’s also a gap behind the bin. Make sure you pay attention to where you’re throwing garbage. And the lid hinges aren’t the most durable.

The Good

The Bad

Some dogs figure out the usual dog-proof trash can lids. So SimpleHuman’s Butterfly Trash Can opens with swinging doors. It’s a different opening that most pups won’t expect – or learn to manipulate. The bin holds 12 gallons and looks sharp in any setting. And because the hinge is inside, it doesn’t matter where you set up the trash can – even against the wall.

The downsides? Lifting out the bin to change the bag gets tricky. The butterfly doors can pose problems for some people. And while your dog may not get inside, smells have no problem escaping since the two halves don’t form a tight seal. It’s also a little smaller than other dog-proof trash cans out there, making bag choice a challenge.

The Good

The Bad

While SimpleHuman’s Semi-Round Trash Can isn’t the most glamorous option out there, it IS effective. You still get a firm foot pedal to open and close, but the lid comes with a slide lock to keep out curious pups. It holds 13 gallons without a problem, and there’s no inner bin you need to worry about getting in or out. It doesn’t take up a ton of the room in your kitchen, either. And it makes up for its lack of design with five great color choices. You also get a FIVE-year warranty!

So what are the downsides? Unhappily, this is a plastic dog-proof trash can. That means it’s not as sturdy as a stainless steel option. But you DO have that slide lock holding the lid in place. And while a standard bag WILL fit, they recommend using their custom bags for the best fit. Also, getting the bin together in the first place is tricky. (Crazy for a trash can, but there you are)

The Good

The Bad

If you want the biggest capacity from your dog-proof trash can, look to SimpleHuman’s Step Trash Can. It holds SIXTEEN gallons! And the extra heavy lid stays firmly in place around the bag, making sure nothing slips, slides, or shows on the outside. Plus, it makes it difficult for your dog to knock it out of the way. (It will also keep any unwanted smells from getting OUT of the bin) You get a wider pedal than you’ll find with other options, making it easier for you to find when you’re juggling full hands. And they’re so confident you’ll love this trash can, they offer a TEN-year warranty!

Downsides? They want you to use custom bags. And many people found the lid making various noises upon closing (so not quite the “soft close” they claim). It still shut, but it wasn’t the quiet process they expected. And the lid itself is thinner than the rest of the trash can, so try to go easy to prevent denting.

The Good

The Bad

Best Touchless Dog-Proof Trash Cans

When you have a clever dog with enough weight under their paws, they may figure out how to work a step pedal. And then they happily drop their head into the bin to make a raid. That’s when you want to turn to something a little more high-tech. Dog-proof trash cans that use touchless sensors are a better choice. They pick up movement to determine when to open. It’s an option to help foil your little trash-seeking pup. You WILL need to worry about power to keep it running, though. It’s an important trade-off to keep your curious canine out of the garbage.

The iTouchless SensorCan won’t take up much room in your kitchen, but it holds 13 gallons. The stainless steel is topped with a plastic lid containing the locking lid and motion sensor. Wave your hand overhead, and it’ll pop open. You have the option of using four D batteries or an AC adapter to keep it powdered up. And to prevent unwanted odors? They include an activated carbon filter. That should prevent your dog from smelling any lingering trash scents.

Downsides? The opening in the lid isn’t very wide, making it difficult to fit larger trash items inside (especially if you have your hands full). You have to purchase the batteries or AC adapter separately, which is frustrating. And both the battery compartment and filter are beneath the level of the bin. So watch where you toss trash, so you don’t get leaks on either one. And the lid doesn’t lock onto the base. So if your dog knocks everything over? It will still come off.

The Good

The Bad

If you want sleek and simple, Ninestars offers that with their Automatic Trash Can. The stainless steel bin holds 13 gallons, with a ring liner to prevent bags from sliding around. You also get a motion sensor in a water-resistant housing that only needs 2 D batteries to operate. And to save battery power (and accidental canine sneak attacks) if has the ability to resist opening with doggie noses and paws. You also get the bonus of a two-year warranty (which is always helpful with technology).

The downsides? That motion sensor is tricky. My parents have this dog-proof trash can. It drives me crazy when I’m over there. I’ve seen a FLY go over it and trigger the lid. But I can wave my hand around like a maniac and never get it to crack (it hates me). You also have to supply those batteries.

The Good

The Bad

Ninestars excels at making dog-proof trash cans. Their Infrared Motion Sensor Trash Can is the perfect solution for dogs that think they can sneak into the garbage. Plus, it’s a dual-can option, with the labels clearly printed on the outside. The motion sensor’s water-resistant, and it WON’T respond to a casual passerby or curious dog. You only need 4 D batteries to keep things running, and it closes to preserve that battery life. There’s a ring liner inside to prevent bags from hanging over the side while also keeping them in place, so they don’t slip down the bins. And, best of all, you get a two-year warranty!

So what are the downsides? No technology’s perfect, and some people struggle with the lid. It either wouldn’t open with movement or ended up staying open too long. Always check your batteries to make sure they don’t need changing. Oh, and you have to buy those separately (of course). 

The Good

The Bad

Preventing “Garbage Gut”

Trash strewn around the house doesn’t top anyone’s Fun Things to Find List. It’s unsanitary. (And gross) And if your pup’s getting into the garbage, they may also put their health at risk. Spoiled food, discarded bottles, and chemicals can land a dog in the hospital. That’s why the perfect dog-proof trash can is so important. You improve cleanliness AND avoid an unwanted vet bill.

But they also help YOU out. With handy foot pedals or motion sensors, you don’t need to touch the trash lid. And that keeps some of those germs away from your hands. (Who doesn’t love that?) So you’re helping everyone in the household at the same time.

Plus they look classy. And who doesn’t love function AND form?

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Andria Kennedy

Andria Kennedy

Andria Kennedy worked as a Licensed Veterinary Technician for 10 years, focusing on Emergency/ICU and later Cardiology, as well as volunteering at both the Philadelphia Zoo and Virginia Living Museum for over six years. She's now a freelance writer, but she gravitates toward writing projects with a focus on animals (once an animal-lover, always an animal-lover). She lives in Virginia with her husband, three cats (one "works" as her personal assistant), and a Greyhound who thinks she's a big cat — all of them rescues.

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