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I have a 4 year old pitbull/Italian greyhound.
He was adopted from a shelter a year ago by my girlfriend, she moved in with me a couple months ago.

He is super sweet & super calm. He will lay with you as long as you'd like, loves to be petted, sleeps in bed with us.

Trash-

But then he has a whole other side to him, that I can't control. Whenever we leave for work, or to go anywhere longer than an hour, we have to put all food, fast food bags, pretty much everything that has to do with food up. If we forget something he will get it & tear it up. He knows it's bad because he hides down the hall instead of his usual hyper jumping greetings. I don't know how, but he got 2 bags of dog treats off the top of the fridge today. I don't know what to do about it?? I keep giving him super light spankings & putting him in his cage. I started with like 10 minutes, & today I was so angry he was in it for 4 hours. I just can't take it anymore.

Walks-

He is decent on walks. He pulls a little, but we got him the front leading harness that pulls him if he pulls. We live in an apartment so he doesn't have a yard, I take him on lots of long walks to burn energy, & we go to a big 3 court fenced in tennis court & play with him a couple times a week to burn energy. When he sees a squirrel or rabbit he goes nuts. Starts pulling & gets so excited he starts coughing & gagging. He immediately becomes disobedient, he won't listen at all.

Excitement-
When one of us comes home, after he's been alone, he freaks out. He jumps all over you & runs circles. He won't listen to sit or lay, won't calm down. Same as the walks. When we are playing with his rope or something & he starts getting aggressive & excited, & you tell him to calm down, he listens just fine. The excitement always comes with the coughing & gagging, unless playing.

Locked up-

He once got shut in our bedroom when we went to run a quick hour long errand, we completely spaced it. He tore the carpet up by the door, trying to dig his way out. With us only being gone about an hour. If we put him in the cage when we leave, he goes nuts & barks, tears up his bed, & anything else in there. He also broke a cage once. (Before he lived with me.)

I just need some help with what to do. Spankings & cage time aren't working. I also always pet him, tell him he's a good dog, & give him treats, when he hasn't torn anything up, does well on a walk, & just at random times.Please help.
 

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It sounds like he has some separation anxiety, which would account for freaking out in the cage and tearing up the carpet when left alone in the room by himself for an hour. However, was he ever crate trained? If not working with him to be comfortable in a crate can help a lot.
As for trash, if he does have separation anxiety that might account for why he's so prevalent with food stealing when your not home. But please don't spank him. He wont associate that and being put in a crate with stealing food off the counter. Especially if he doesn't feel comfortable crated. You have the right idea with management, keep stuff out of reach, put stuff in cabinets or in other rooms while your gone if need be.

Walks- It sounds like he has a pretty good prey drive. He does have grey hound (a sight hound) in him after all. You want to work on him focusing on you instead of the squirrels or rabbits. Teaching "focus"/"watch me" is a great way to start. At home, when ever he gives you eye contact, treat him. You want to build up the fact that looking and focusing on you is awesome, rewarding, and way better then squirrels and rabbits. You can also try using a interrupting noise or word to get break his attention on the squirrel or rabbit, then walk the other way, and keep walking until he has calmed down, and gone back to regular walking, then reward. I would say, since you said he starts coughing and gagging in multipul situations, it might be worth a trip to the vets, to rule out a medical reason for it.

Excitement- When he gets over excited like that, just ignore him. Wait until he calms down, then reward with tons of praise. If he starts getting over excited again go back to ignoring him. You might have to do it a few times for him to get the message, but he'll get the idea that going nuts and running in circles means no attention. But being calm gets lots of attention and good things. Make you coming and leaving a simple non eventfull thing, that doesn't need to be meet with over excitement and anxiety.

Giving him something like a stuffed kong, bone, bully stick or something else long lasting and high value only when you leave might help him as well. It would give his mind something to do instead of focusing on the fact that your now gone.
 
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Any type of punishment is a big no-no. It is not effective and only creates the foundation for aggression later on in life. It is especially ineffective if you are punishing him long after he has done something you don't like. The short term memory of a dog is approximately five minutes. If you punish him when you get home, he is simply associating the punishment with you instead of having torn through food and trash. So you are essentially teaching him to fear you and starting the building blocks for more behavioral problems.

I would consult an animal behaviorist and positive reinforcement trainer. Separation anxiety can be a difficult thing to deal with, but it doesn't sound like he is a particularly horrible case. He may also simply be bored, if he doesn't have separation anxiety.
 

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please don't hit him. The dog will not be able to connect that with something he did hours ago. I'm not for physical punishment in general, but if you want to use positive punishments you have to be very fast, like in a few seconds after the "deed" so that it can connect the "consequence" with his action.
punishind him hours later, after he already forgot his actions makes no sense in training, it is just you releasing frustration.
Dogs are animals, they don't have a conscious. they are hinding because they notice you're angry...not because the feel guilty of something.

I'd start training "staying alone" from the very beginning again.
also having something to chew on (nothing they can rip apart or hurt themself with) can help some dogs redirecting their axiety.
generally until you solved this there's still no other solution than either closing the door to the room with all the food or put the food out of reach.

before You do this, however, talk with your girlfriend. Some people don'T like it when others interfere with the training of their dog.
I'd definitively get angry about my boyfriend hitting my dog.
 
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He sounds like a normal dog. He eats food that is left available. Dogs are opportunistic feeders. As far as he's concerned, you left it available to him, so why would you care if he ate it? Management and prevention is the solution. Punishing him is pointless and will and may have already led to increased anxiety. When you come home he may now be anticipating you'll be unhappy. He doesn't know why. His greeting to you may be an effort to appease.

He gets excited when he sees a prey animal. Normal dog behavior. He's not a robot. Give him some sort of acceptable outlet for his prey drive.

He gets happy and excited when his owners get home. Normal dog behavior. Would you prefer he left the room the minute you arrived? Dogs are social animals. Being isolated all day is hard on dogs. It's perfectly normal for him to be overjoyed that you're home. Teach him an alternate behavior.

Get the book Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson. You and your girlfriend can read it to each other. You'll see that every single "problem" you're having is simply a dog being a dog. Teach him how you want him to behave. Stop punishing him. Stop making the crate a place of punishment. Stop isolating him as a form of punishment. Dogs don't get this very well.

Take a few minutes to think of how you would feel if you found yourself living among a different species. You don't understand the rules of their society because no one taught you in language you could understand.You are smaller and feel physically vulnerable. You get punished for something that would be acceptable among your own species. This is how dogs must feel.

It's a true testament to the amazing abilities of dogs that they do manage to adapt to our world. They have evolved to get along with us and they are very adept at it, if we take the time to teach them how.

I understand it's frustrating. If you stop believing that his behavior is purposely meant to annoy you, you'll be better able to help him learn different behaviors.

I'd ask the vet about the coughing and gagging. He may have a damaged trachea or some other physical condition.
 
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