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I need serious help with my dog. She is driving me up the wall.

My dog "acts" well trained and behaved when I am there in the room with her. But the moment I leave the room she does bad things.

The two biggest issues right now is that she gets into the litter boxes or the cats food.

She obviously knows she isn't allowed to do it because she won't if I am around. But literally the moment I leave the room she does it! Even worse she will do it when my husband is around too and apparently he can't watch her. sigh

I am not able to block it off. I have an elderly cat who isn't able to jump/climb and the dog is smaller than the cats.

How do I train her not to get into the litter box/cat food?
And how do I train her that the rules still apply even when she isn't being watched?

I see so many ppl always bragging that their dogs are so well behaved and like they don't need to be crated or locked up when the people are not home. So there has to be a way to train dogs to know the rules right?
 

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I need serious help with my dog. She is driving me up the wall.

My dog "acts" well trained and behaved when I am there in the room with her. But the moment I leave the room she does bad things.

The two biggest issues right now is that she gets into the litter boxes or the cats food.

She obviously knows she isn't allowed to do it because she won't if I am around. But literally the moment I leave the room she does it! Even worse she will do it when my husband is around too and apparently he can't watch her. sigh
Dogs lack the concept of 'good' and 'bad'. They find things 'rewarding' or 'not rewarding', 'safe' and 'not safe'. Your dog has learned that's 'not safe' to get into the litter/cat food when you are in the room. When you are gone, it becomes safe.

I am not able to block it off. I have an elderly cat who isn't able to jump/climb and the dog is smaller than the cats.
I suppose the next best thing is to block your dog from accessing the litter/cat food when you can't watch her.

How do I train her not to get into the litter box/cat food?
I would use distraction and reward, and I'd be prepared to be very patient and consistent over a long period of time. I'd also figure out a way to prevent her from accessing the cat stuff when I'm not there, whether it's putting her in a crate, ex-pen or in a different room.

And how do I train her that the rules still apply even when she isn't being watched?
That's the million dollar question. There are some dogs who are able to resist their urges even when the owner isn't there, but many who simply cannot. The method above, if kept up long enough, may work so that eventually she just looses interest in the 'forbidden' items.

I see so many ppl always bragging that their dogs are so well behaved and like they don't need to be crated or locked up when the people are not home. So there has to be a way to train dogs to know the rules right?
Have you asked these people how they've done it?

Many people are able to leave their dogs out because they also make sure there's nothing available that the dog might be inclined to want to investigate/eat/chew/etc. That's often the most effective way of keeping a dog from doing what you don't want him/her to do. We leave our dogs free in the house, with no problems - but I would never leave 'temptation' out either. While my dog is too afraid to really do anything I've even slightly suggested he shouldn't, my BF's dog will get into things she shouldn't, if it's available to her and we aren't there to stop her.
 

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Dia is right, dogs think of terms of safe and unsafe. It's not safe to get into the litterbox and cat food while you are there, but it's safe and highly rewarding to get into it while you are away.

When I had a cat and my dogs I made sure that the litter box was kept as clean as possible. If I knew the cat used the box I'd be in cleaning it minute latter, I think my cat had the cleanest box in the neighborhood. I did that because no matter how much I fussed, no matter how much they got into trouble, my dogs would snack at the litter box buffet, and I HATED that.

The cat food I kept up out of reach. I also did not free feed my cat, just like the dogs he got fed twice a day, and he nearly always finished the food in one sitting. You're probably going to have to pick up the cat food when you are not around, it'll likely be easiest.

I've been able to leave my dogs out loose in the house because I manage everything so that they cannot get into trouble. I pick up the stuff that I know they might want to destroy, I don't leave any food out that they might get into, and I exercise them before I leave. I've been lucky with my dogs though, I've never had any that wanted to eat the furniture when I'm gone, and none had separation anxiety that might make them destroy stuff.
 
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@Rain - that "litter box buffet" comment made me snort.

I agree with the above, the key to stopping this behaviour is by preventing it. If you're not in the room with the dog and litter box, the dog needs to be prevented from accessing it. Either by the dog coming with you, or crating/ex-pen.

I'm fortunate to have a dog who is now old enough to be left out of his crate when I leave, but I'm careful about what stays out. I close doors to rooms I don't want him in, no garbage or food left around, give him a Kong or puzzle toy and I make sure he's tired before I leave.

Also, I would like to say, it's possible that dogs get into all sorts of mischief when people are gone. It definitely depends on if there is evidence around or not. ;)
 

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You can't compare your dog to other peoples' dogs. It just not fair. My current dog is very mellow, but I also remove any and all temptation before I leave him alone. Shoes are in closets, clothes are in drawers/closet, food is put away, etc.

My old dog ... he was a nightmare for years. Nothing could keep him contained, he could jump over baby gates and open doors. He'd chew walls and furniture. He jumped through a window once.
 

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My dog is very well behaved, whether I'm there or not. However, if given the opportunity to gobble up some cat poop, she's on it! I had to figure out a way to block it off.

Is there a way to keep the dog confined to a section of the house when you're not home?
 

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Although my cats have access to the garden, I still keep a litter box in the utility room, as soon as any of the cats poop in there I remove it (I'm assuming that your dog is attracted to the poop?) thus removing the attraction. With regards to their food, I keep the food on a kitchen counter with a chair to help my older cat climb on to reach it. If this isn't possible for you, you may need to have supervised feeding times for the cat like you do with your dog therefore removing the temptation.
 

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Dogs are like toddlers. You would expect a toddler to know generally what they're allowed and not allowed to do when you're there watching, but when you're not there the forbidden calls. Just remove the temptation in any way you can -- keep the litter box clean, or my roommates have their litter box in the laundry room w a rope on the doorknob and a hook next to the door to keep it mostly closed, w a towel folded up between the door and the frame so it doesn't close all the way, enough for the kitties but not enough for the dog. You could have a setup like that and keep the food and litter box in there.
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