He's raiding the kitchen!

(Q) Our seven-year-old Giant Schnauzer is causing chaos. My partner works in the mornings so he’s left alone for a few hours. We feed and walk him before we go out but he’s very naughty while we’re away. It doesn’t matter how hard we try to make sure all food items are out of his reach, somehow he manages to get into the cupboards and demolishes anything he can get his paws on. I think this has become a game for him — he waits until we’re out of the way and then has a great time. Can this behaviour be corrected?

(A) Behaviourist Claire Arrowsmith says: It sounds as though your Schnauzer is having a wonderful time when you’re out of the house. Does he have to be left in the kitchen? If there’s another space for him this would be advisable. If not, fit child locks on all the cupboards and the fridge so that you can lock them before you leave the house. It’s vital that your dog learns that it’s impossible to access these areas from now on.

Feed part of his breakfast before you leave the house but place the rest inside several interesting activity toys so that he has to spend time and energy obtaining it. The point is to keep your dog busy doing appropriate activities while you’re out.

This is going to be a challenge since he has learned that tasty prizes can be found in the cupboards, but it’s possible to replace this habit with a foraging game that is less problematic. You will have to be consistent however, as he’s likely to check the cupboards from time to time just to see whether anything interesting is available.  

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