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Old 10-08-2009, 03:29 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default HELP - Getting in trash and now on counters

My male GSD is 2 years old. He has for the past year, on occassion gotten into the trash when left alone. In the past couple of months it has definitely accelerated. He knows he shouldn't, because you can tell by his demeanor as soon as you open the door (he will go into his crate) if he has done it. If not, he will greet you excitedly at the door. If my husband is not at home, he will sniff the trash if it seems exceptionally tempting, but I will tell him to leave it, and he does. In the past week it has accelerated to pulling food off of the counter. I have a lid on the trash, but he can push it off. I put everything as far back on the counter as I can (only things like bread and crackers) but I don't have a lot of storage space and certainly no pantry. It seems a little like separation anxiety or boredom to me, because it is usually only when I leave. He likes to check and make sure I am around before he eats dinner, and for awhile if I fed him and left to run an errand he wouldn't eat until I got back. I do crate him when I leave for work in the morning even now, but my husband and daughter come and go during the days at different time and let him out. Someone is home everyday almost all day, just different schedules unless we are doing errands.
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Old 10-08-2009, 04:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP - Getting in trash and now on counters

If you're not willing to crate him when people aren't home, I'd put food away so there's nothing on the counters he can get at, or if there's no way to do that, buy a bread box to put it in. Weigh down the garbage can lid so he can't push it off.

When we had Sneaker we had a garbage can in the kitchen with a lid on it. There was no room under the counters, so it was out in the open, and she wasn't crated at night. She used to sneak out into the kitchen at night and get into the garbage, so we just put something heavy on top that she couldn't push off to lift the lid up and that took care of that!
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Old 10-08-2009, 04:10 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP - Getting in trash and now on counters

I think for something like this you should impress it upon your family that the dog needs to be crated any time there is no one there DIRECTLY supervising him. (Otherwise whoever keeps him out has to clean up the trash...at least that's how I deal with it in my house )

We used to have this problem with our pup a few weeks after he was given free roam of the house when we were gone. He even did it when other people were home, but upstairs out of his sight, though he never went near the trash when me or my bf was home (mostly cause he was too busy following us around). To cure him of his trash-rifling, we went right back to crating for whenever we weren't home. Did that for a month, and decided we'd try again with giving him free reign of the house, and he's beeng good ever since.

It sounds like your pup has never learned that there were any consequences to counter surfing and going through the trash, so he's been steadily pushing his boundaries and getting away with it. If you catch him in the act, you can correct him, but if you come home to a torn-up trash, there's not too much you can do except clean it up.
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Old 10-08-2009, 06:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP - Getting in trash and now on counters

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He knows he shouldn't, because you can tell by his demeanor as soon as you open the door (he will go into his crate) if he has done it.
My guess is that you have reacted angrily to the garbage in the past when you've come home. So your pup knows that you don't like garbage. He doesn't know that you don't like him going into the garbage.

It's a subtle distinction, but reacting to something your dog has done minutes or hours after the fact is rather useless. This is a situation that simply requires management.

I had a dog that was on the streets (starving) for about 6 months before animal control picked her up and I adopted her. She was a forager in the garbage and a counter cruiser.

I finally found a garbage can that she could NOT lift the lid. And we established what we called The Grover Zone. Anything within 24" of the edge of any counter or table was hers (practically speaking), so we didn't leave it there.

In Grover's case, she was terrified to be crated, so we worked around that, but it was a substantial inconvenience.


Rubbermaid bins seal well and work well for both garbage and food storage, since you don't have a lot of storage. They're not super attractive, but they work.

Every time your dog gets into the garbage or on the counter and finds even the slightest bit of tasty food (or even a wrapper), he is TRAINING HIMSELF that this is a good behavior. That's why you're seeing the behavior more and more. It's as though you are standing there handing him a treat every time he does it. You need to break that cycle completely. Crating is the easiest way. With some dogs, the behavior will simply extinguish itself over months (actually it may take a year or more) because you will have stopped the "training." For other dogs, it will be a life-long challenge.

I've never met anyone who was able to train their dog to stop counter surfing (without managing and extinguishing over a long period of time). In fact, a friend of mine, a very capable professional trainer, uses an indoor Invisible Fence product that keeps her 10 yr old dog out of the kitchen because she's a counter cruiser. This dog is one of the best trained dogs you could ever hope to meet.

This is the dog's one fault. I think it's rather charming, in that she's not a perfect dog. But I don't live with her either.
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Old 10-08-2009, 06:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP - Getting in trash and now on counters

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Originally Posted By: Cassidys MomIf you're not willing to crate him when people aren't home, I'd put food away so there's nothing on the counters he can get at, or if there's no way to do that, buy a bread box to put it in. Weigh down the garbage can lid so he can't push it off.

When we had Sneaker we had a garbage can in the kitchen with a lid on it. There was no room under the counters, so it was out in the open, and she wasn't crated at night. She used to sneak out into the kitchen at night and get into the garbage, so we just put something heavy on top that she couldn't push off to lift the lid up and that took care of that!
I agree with all of that, it's what I've done in the past and works 100% and immediately. I always love that.

I'd add your pup sounds bored. So I'd re-start some type of dog class (herding, tracking, agility, obedience, flyball......) and really up the long long long hikes in the woods and tearing after the chuckit ball.
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Old 10-08-2009, 06:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP - Getting in trash and now on counters

My kitchen is very small too. I adapted from having a HUGE kitchen with a HUGE pantry to having a galley kitchen 12' long and 3' wide on the floor.

I have a steel step can that resolved Otto's trash picking. He was told on numerous occasions not to get into the trash, he still did. Then I got the 32" tall step can. The lid makes a horrible CLANG noise. Yeah he's stepped on the lever once or twice to opened the lid but after the lid wacked him off the head, he didn't do it again.

Crackers are better kept in a rubber maid tub. Luther could get the lids off those and not leave a tooth mark so find a place you can keep it.

Bread keeps longer if you keep it in the fridge. My mother keeps her breads in the oven from living with GSDs for 30 years. Yeah it used to get exciting a couple times a year when she'd forget something in the back until after she turned it on.
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Old 10-08-2009, 11:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP - Getting in trash and now on counters

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Originally Posted By: SunCzarina
My mother keeps her breads in the oven from living with GSDs for 30 years. Yeah it used to get exciting a couple times a year when she'd forget something in the back until after she turned it on.
I did that once with Rica. We were going out right after dinner and put some left over french fries (the kind you do in the oven) back in the oven, thinking they would be fine until we got home and could put them in the frig. When we got home the oven door was open and the fries were gone. She figured out how to open the oven door. Never used that storage location again.

I keep the trash can in the cabinet under the kitchen sink. When Rica was alive, we tried setting up the doors with the baby proof locks to keep her out of there. That didn't work. She figured out that if she pulled hard enough with her paw she could still open it (did a number on the door, too). DH hung a mouse trap (not set) over the door. That was the only thing that kept her out. He would snap it in the air so she could hear it and she was afraid of the sound. Only thing that worked for us to keep her out of the trash until she slowed down so much that she stopped on her own.
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Old 10-09-2009, 11:38 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP - Getting in trash and now on counters

Thank you so much for your responses. I wasn't sure if I just had a very poorly trained GSD (he is super food motivated!), if it was an age or behavior issue, or just normal for a food hog to have a hard time resisting yummy smelling goodies now that he has discovered where they are at. I'm glad to see even "good" GSDs have a hard time controlling themselves. Will be sure to implement storage suggestions even better than now so that he doesn't get into something that will harm him.
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Old 10-09-2009, 12:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP - Getting in trash and now on counters

Even the best trained dog in the world is going to have a hard time ignoring food right there within reach if there's nobody around to stop them. Mine are very good about it when I'm there, but I can guarantee that if I were to leave the house they'd be on that food so fast your head would spin. They are both extreme food hogs - that's just how they are, and I expect they always will be. I can put their food bowls on the floor and walk out of the room and they won't eat until I get back and release them, but that's not the same thing at all. Unattended food is fair game!
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Old 10-09-2009, 04:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: HELP - Getting in trash and now on counters

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They are both extreme food hogs
Which makes them nicely trainable. You have to be more creative to train a dog that isn't food motivated.

I can train my beagle -- who will eat almost anything at any time -- to do anything. Got food? Then she's your best friend and she'll do anything to get it. My GSD pup, not so much.

So for food hogs!
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