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Garbage-Raiding Dogs: One Simple Solution to the Problem

Got a mischevious mutt on your hands? Then you may know this scenario. You walk in the door and your pal greets you with elated tail wagging, wiggling and sloppy doggy kisses. Then suddenly, he's overcome with a guilty look and it's off to cower behind the couch. Uh-oh. You know what this means. Sure enough, a telltale trail of eggshells, coffee grinds, grease stains and tattered wrappers leads you to the scene of the crime: the kitchen. Your dog's done it again, raided the garbage.

You've tried whacking him, you've tried gating him, you've put him in dog house solitary for a few hours as punishment. Still, no matter how much you holler and scold, your dog's still up to his no-good hijinks with that darned kitchen trash pail every time you leave the house. What's a frustrated dog owner to do?

First of all, let's think about who we're dealing with here. It's a DOG. He might be your lovable pal, and at times he seems smarter than your husband, but the truth is, here's an animal that's at least two steps down on the food chain. Just remembering that fact alone may help you realize that your dog does not have advanced reasoning capacity.

Okay: now that we have the pooch perspective on higher learning, we can reason out the situation in a way that your dog will never be able.

If your dog is home alone, bored out of his doggy mind, he's eventually going to find his way into the kitchen. Sniffing around for a dropped crumb under the table, maybe doing a little counter-surfing on the sly. Then, he follows his nose to the fermenting dog buffet that you call garbage... and, half crazed from having to beg for his every meal, he immediately begins harfing down every delicious morsel. He can't help himself!

When you come home hours later and push your dog's nose into the mess while spanking his fanny, his limited brain is not ever going to master the long-term cause-and-effect of why garbage-raiding is bad and leads to a beating. In this immediate situation: he knows three variables: him, you, and the garbage. From that simple vantage point, your pushing his nose into the garbage equals a scolding.

However, when you're NOT there, that's only TWO variables: him, and the garbage. To him, that means "Let's chow down!" Later, when you come home, he's well-forgotten the garbage-raiding spree and only knows that 1. he's happy to see you, 2. there's garbage around, and 3. you're yelling at him. But he doesn't ask "Why?" because he has no ability to reason.

How are beatings and scoldings going to keep him from going on his trash rampages? They're not!

You can use simple Pavlov-style behavior conditioning to make your dog behave through positive reinforcement. The trick to this is repetition of a single stimuli: Command, execute, reward. All of this is immediate. It's also the reason dogs bark every time they hear a doorbell on the TV. But we'll never be able to explain to the dog that the doorbell on the TV is not the real doorbell. And you'll never convince him that if he stays away from the garbage he won't get a walloping. If you can, then I suggest you have him join MENSA, because that is one genius dog!

So, the real solution to the garbage raiding predicament is this: you're going to have to move the garbage out of your dog's reach. It's a simple fix for an annoying problem, and probably the only reason why you haven't done it already is because you don't want to change your stuff around for a dog. Well, you're not doing it for the dog! You're doing it for your own peace of mind.

Now, where can you move the garbage to? You can pick it up and place it on top of the washing machine, if that's behind a nearby door you can close. You can rearrange the cleaning products under your kitchen sink and fit it under there, and then buy or fashion a lock for the cabinet door. You can shut it in the garage on your way out. You can hoist it up on a countertop that your dog can't jump up on. You can stow it away in the bathroom.

There now, was that so hard? You didn't have to spend tons of money on dog obedience classes. You didn't have to go through the heartbreak of laying into your little pup when he's giving you those big, sad eyes. And best of all, you didn't have to come home and Febreeze the living heck out of your livingroom rug.

Move the garbage. For the love of dog!

Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.

Dina Giolitto is a copywriting consultant and ghostwriter with 10 years of experience writing corporate print materials and web content. Trust her with your next e-book, article series or web project, and make a lasting impression on your audience of hungry prospects. Visit http://www.wordfeeder.com for more information.

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