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How to stop or train against "dishonest" behavior?

817 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Francl27
I adopted a ~3 year old dog from some friends who could no longer keep him. We didn't know them and their habits very well, though. I've been trying to train him to stay off the couch and bed, and not take food from off the tables or kitchen counter. He's been great about these things when I'm not in the house, but once I leave for work, all bets are off. Almost daily, I find fresh fur and paw prints on the bed and couch, and sometimes food missing from the kitchen counter.

I've disciplined him when this happens, and tried to show him what I'm mad about. It's difficult though, because it's not immediate feedback like when it happens in front of me. I've tried leaving aluminum foil on the couch and bed, and that seemed to work for a while until he became desensitized to it. It seemed more like a deterrent than a training method. But that's not a great option because it's tedious for me to put down whenever I leave the house.

I know that he knows he's not supposed to be on the couch or bed, and not to eat food from the counter. He's great about it when I'm home, but seems to think it's worth it while I'm away. But there's no good way to stop him or discipline him when he does it while I'm away. I could put him in his crate while I'm away, but I'm not sure that would actually train him. Seems like as soon as I let him out the next time I'm away he'd go back to doing the same things.

Any ideas? Thanks in advance.
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First step is to change your perspective.

It's not "dishonest" behavior. It's reinforcing for the dog to eat free food and lie on comfortable surfaces. Your dog is a dog, not a judging ethical being.

Your dog doesn't know he's 'wrong'. Dogs have no concept of right or wrong. All your dog has learned is it's not safe to do it when you're home, and to be appeasing (the famous 'guilty' look) when you are mad at him. He's scared of your punishments.

Crate him when you're gone. You're right in that it's not actively training him what to do, but it prevents the unwanted behavior. Prevention goes a long ways towards eliminating a habit. Or, close the doors to the bedroom, put a sheet on the couch that the dog is allowed to go on, and keep the counters clean. That would be a compromise.

Meantime, teach the dog to strongly enjoy being on his own bed or other appropriate spaces. Hide dog-appropriate treats, toys, and chews in spaces where you want him to be if you are going for the compromise option.

These behaviors may go away over time, or they may be permanent. Unfortunately punishment often masks behaviors. I used to think and train similarly and also got stuck. How to you modify a behavior when your dog is too scared to do it in front of you? Sometimes, you don't. My compromise... I keep my trash under a cabinet.
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He's not being "dishonest". He's being a dog.

As Canyx said, either crate or baby gate him where he can't get into things while you are gone, and don't leave things on the counter.

I had a dog who wasn't allowed on the bed or couch. Her opinion was if I didn't see it, it never happened. Never mind all the dog hair all over the bed and couch.....
so the good news he is not eating the house, shredding carpet, cabinet doors, table legs or the sheetrock off the walls :) :) :) :) oh and crashing through double pain glass windows. ..... For you be mindful that discipline that a dog can not attach to an event for the dog has ways of coming out other ways.. Like causing anxiety that your coming home if you correct after you return. just turns them into a nervous wreck because they don't get it to change it.. no matter what it still gonna happen to them. that is when the destruction begins as it's soothing to their anxiety.

possible for now you can get covers to put over your coach and bed for protection.. and while your home work on being able to redirect them to a special place for them..
Agree with everyone else. Do not leave him loose when you are gone. Crate him. Do not leave food on the counter as most dogs see that as "free food" and don't leave him where he can get on furniture when you are not home.

You cannot correct a dog after the fact. The dog has NO IDEA why you are correcting him. All that does is ruin your relationship with the dog and, honestly? It is abusive.

If you come home and find paw prints on the couch, take the dog to the couch and correct him he has NO associative ability to know why. All he knows is you are mean and angry and let him have it near the couch when you come home. Same with the counters and so forth.
Prevention. Crate the dog or gate him in a room where he won't be able to get on anything.
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