Animals Getting into Your Outdoor Garbage Cans?

Not everyone has a garage or shed in which to store garbage cans until trash day, and when garbage cans are stored outside, inevitably animals looking for food get into them. Lids offer some protection, but even lids don’t always keep out hungry animals. Dogs, which are usually larger and stronger than most trash raiding culprits, knock over cans and scatter garbage all over the ground. Cats create a hole in the trash bag and gingerly pull out what they want, one piece at a time. Wild animals such as raccoons and opossums get into the garbage too, and they find what they want anyway they can.

If you are forced to store your garbage cans outside, there are ingenious but easy ways to keep animals out of your trash until garbage day. These methods won’t harm the animals, and trash collectors won’t end up with chemicals or soap all over their hands. Try these ideas if you are having a problem with animals in your outdoor garbage. You won’t have to pick up household garbage from the ground again.

What You Shouldn’t Do

People sometimes pour strong chemicals such as bleach or ammonia on outdoor garbage in an effort to keep dogs, cats, opossums, raccoons, and other animals out of their garbage. These products might temporarily repel animals, but garbage handlers don’t appreciate having ammonia, bleach, and other chemicals on their hands and clothes. There are options other than messy soaps or strong chemicals that work to keep animals out of the garbage.

More importantly, don’t resort to shooting or poisoning animals that look for food in your garbage cans. Every living creature must to eat to survive, and it isn’t the fault of the animal if they are homeless or their owner lets them roam the streets. If you know where a particular animal originates from, contact the owner, and respectfully explain the problem. If politely confronting the animal owner doesn’t work, contact your local dogcatcher. Animals allowed to run the streets are sometimes the unfortunate victims of cars, guns, and poison. You’ll be doing an innocent animal a favor as well as yourself.


If your garbage cans have handles, drive stakes into the ground where they are stored, and run the handles through the stakes. This will prevent animals such as large dogs from knocking the cans over. This along with the following ideas for keeping animals out of outdoor trashcans, might eliminate any further problems with animals getting into trashcans.

Bungee Cords

Bungee cords can be very helpful in keeping lids on trashcans. Connect bungee cords together if necessary, and secure the lids by threading the bungee cords through the handles.

Bungee cords are also helpful in keeping trashcans in an upright position. Connect bungee cords, and wrap them around more than one can. Animals trying to knock the cans over will have a difficult time when they are connected. Alternately, if you have a fence, consider using bungee cords to secure garbage cans to the fence. If an animal can’t knock them over, the lids are less likely to come off, and they’ll be forced to go foraging elsewhere.

Box the Cans

If all else fails and animals are still getting into your outdoor garbage cans, consider building a box to house trashcans. Build the box from strong plywood, and make a lid with hinges and a hasp. You’ll not only hide unsightly trashcans, but you’ll never again have to pick up trash from the ground because of animals getting into the garbage.

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