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Hello,
My sister in-law just got a new golden retriever. The dog is about 4 years old and has been abused in a horrible way. The old owner (which we know and she's a real piece of work) decided that she no longer cared about the dog anymore. She would just leave the house and not come home for days and sometimes even weeks. The dog survived by eating out of the garbage can and the refrigerator. My sister in-law has now owned the dog for several months and has never abused or left the dog for any real length of time. Yet the dog still raids the fridge EVERY time she leaves the house if she forgets to put on the child proof locks. He's even broken the child proof lock on the garbage can. My sister in-law has now resorted to moving the kitchen garbage can into the bathroom (with the door locked) every time she leaves the house. I understand that the only reason that the dog is doing this is because he's afraid that he's going to be left again, but this behavior has to stop. I'm not sure what to do because the dog will never do this when we are home. Out side of this one behavior he is an excellent dog. I would really appreciate any help or suggestions that anyone has. Thank you all in advance!
 

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Why not confine him in some way where he can't get to the fridge when she's gone? She could also try some aversion therapy such as something that makes an unpleasant (to the dog) sound when he tries to get in the fridge.
 

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I like the aversion idea. I'm actually an electronic technician, and can probably rig something up from parts around the house. I've never liked the idea of keeping a dog, particularly a large dog confined to any small space. She already lives in an apartment so any confinement would result in a small space. I just feel horrible for this poor dog. He's quite possibly one of the most loving dogs I've ever been around. If anyone has any other ideas or any specifics on an aversion tactic it would be much appreciated. Thanks again!
 

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That sounds great. But as far as confinement's concerned, as long as the dog's not destructive, I was thinking more along the lines of gating off access to the kitchen.
 

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Please don't try an aversion technique on a dog already traumatized on this issue. I can't imagine what impact that would have on an already bruised dog.

It will take time but eventually he will learn that he doesn't have to forage for food and that you will come back. In the mean time, lock the fridge up, put away the garbage and try to maintain as regular a schedule as you can, esp. around feeding times, so that the dog's environment becomes predictable.

I would also leave a lot of Kongs stuffed with kibble & treats whenever I left to entice him away from the fridge and reassure him that food is readily available.
 

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My sister in-law has now owned the dog for several months and has never abused or left the dog for any real length of time.

I can't see what harm it would do the dog if it is left confined in a crate or even a room for short periods of time. Actually it would be in the best interest of the dog to do this, so it doesn't get into something dogs shouldn't eat. A lot of fruits or food that might be in there could harm or even kill it.

I think I would rather be safe than sorry. I had a dog who I couldn't leave for 5 minutes alone. It was unfortunate, but he was just that type of dog that had severe separation anxiety. he never got over it, and couldn't be left in the house loose until the day he died.

I now have 2 dogs. One can be left anywhere in the house and does nothing. The other likes to use the rug as his toilet, so he is confined to the kitchen when we are gone (I am assuming this is some kind of separation anxiety also). This works out fine, and even though he has the biggest pout on his face every time we leave, it is much better than letting him destroy part of the house.
 

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Please don't try an aversion technique on a dog already traumatized on this issue. I can't imagine what impact that would have on an already bruised dog.
*seconded*

this dog was in a horrible position and basically taught to fend for himself. he was taught the only way to get food was to forage. i think a crate would be an excellent idea. most normal dogs do nothing but sleep while their owner is away. the crate is an excellent place to sleep. then you can gradually work up to a time when he realizes that he is now in a place with a predictable food source. when she comes home is when he eats! not when he's alone (except i would leave him with a stuffed kong for now and as regular treat). like walk in the door, hasn't been in the fridge/trash, yay! treats for you! he probably doesn't quite associate humans with food.

it would also be a great idea to consult a behaviorist. he's been through a lot of trauma.

PLEASE don't punish him for something he HAD to do to survive!
 

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Thirded- I wouldn't use anything aversive in this situation as frankly, it sounds like this dog already has enough issues without learning that the fridge is going ot kill him.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
After thinking it over I couldn't agree more that an aversion tactic may not be the greatest idea. I've always used crates with my dogs, but the doors on them are never shut and all of my dogs have used them as beds. I know Wookie (my sister in-laws golden) has been crated in the past and I'm rather sure that it was yet another traumatic experience (as I already stated the previous owner was a real piece of work). I'm honestly at a loss here. This dog absolutely loves people and extremely intelligent! I hope we can figure out something. Possibly the behavior therapist is the best approach and treats for not going in the fridge is also a decent idea. I'm just not sure he'll associate the treat with the good behavior since he doesn't fully realize going in the fridge is a bad behavior. I have a lot of knowledge with dogs and training dogs, but an abused dog is all new to me..... I really do appreciate everyone's input.
 
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