Friday, May 16, 2008

Labrador Retriever Eating from the Table / Garbage - part II

Subject:My black Labrador Retriever mix is eating from the table and getting into the garbage.

My 2 year old yellow lab does not come when called. Part II

From: Denise (USA)

Labrador Retriever's Names: Oreo - black Labrador Retriever mix. Honey - Yellow Labrador Retriever.

All About Labradors Blog Answer:

Hello Denise,

The information given here is to help you learn more about your Labrador Retriever and not to replace your veterinarian's advice. Disclaimer.

Here are some options you can try for Oreo getting into the garbage and counter surfing:

Try spraying sour bitter apple spray, hot pepper sauce or lemon juice on your garbage and under the bag if you use one in your garbage can. This won't hurt your Labrador Retrievers and after the first taste or two it just MIGHT solve your problem. Of course, Oreo might like the taste and might not be bothered by it.

Next thing you can try is to set Oreo up to fail. You are giving Oreo an opportunity to get in the garbage can while making it appear that you are not paying attention. The minute Oreo goes for the garbage, give him an extra loud "No" or "Leave It" command, enough to give him a scare. A few attempts at this may be enough to rid Oreo of his garbage raiding problem.

If setting up Oreo doesn't work, you may have to try bobby trapping the garbage with a device called Snappy Trainer. The Snappy Trainer is a mousetrap-like device designed with a large flap. When its tripped, it snaps shut, bounces up and makes a loud noise frightening your Labrador Retriever. You can see the Snappy Trainer in action at

Place the device on your garbage can and when Oreo does go for the garbage, the trap goes off scaring him and hopefully teaching him the garbage is a bad thing.

I would advise against using real mousetraps, as they can pinch Oreo and if you do have children you don't want mousetraps around for fear of injury to them also.

Other commercial products you can try:

Scat Mat - place the mat on the surface you want Oreo to avoid and if he touches it, a mild, harmless static pulse emits when he touches it.

X-Mat - same as Scat Mat but no shock. Instead the mat has tiny plastic discomfort points that will deter Oreo from jumping on the surface.

All of these products can be found at pet store outlets or by searching the Internet.

If nothing seems to work for you Denise, try:

Get a strong garbage can with locking lid.

Keep Oreo out of kitchen altogether.

Put the can inside a cabinet that Oreo can't get into.

Do not put any food products into the garbage. Take food products outside to an outside can or the garage.

You may also want to add some Kong toys. These are great for you can stuff them full of dog treats and freeze them. They can also keep Oreo occupied, making it more appealing than the garbage. The best part about Kong toys is that they provide plenty of physical exercise as well as mental exercise. Just make sure you buy the right size for your Labrador Retrievers and discard when pieces start to fall off of them.

All of the above options can also be used for Oreo's counter surfing. Remember while training your Labrador Retrievers, you also have to try to train yourself not to leave tempting goodies within your Labradors potential reach.

For their begging at the table you can:

If you eat at different times, give them their favorite toys or Kong toys I mentioned above while you are eating. I don't feel you should eat at the same time as your Labradors as you reinforce you and your family's role as the pack leaders, not the subordinates. You are the Alpha dog. Here's an interesting article to take a look at Establishing and keeping the Alpha Position.

Remove them from the room totally while you are eating.

If you do keep your Labradors in the room while you eat, it is essential that you ignore the begging. NEVER, ever give in by giving them food! It may take a while but eventually they will learn begging gets them nothing.

Teaching Honey to come:

Start inside your home with you and Honey in the same room. Grab some dog treats, take a few steps back from Honey and call her by name followed by the simple command "come" (ex: Honey, Come). Reward her with a treat when she does come.

Slowly increase your distance and then move to another room and continue your training.

From there you can move to the backyard with a long leash and continue the above method.
If the treat isn't enough to entice Honey to come, put the leash on her and face her with the leash in hand. Make sure you leave some slack on the leash. Give the "come" command and then give the leash a gentle tug. Reward Honey when she comes to you.

Eventually, Honey should be coming on your command. You want to slowly wean her off the treats by replacing them with a pat on the head and/or praise. Be persistent and have patience during the training and if necessary you can always take a step back to the previous step in the training.

Well Denise, I hope this will be of some help to you and your Labrador Retrievers. If you don't understand anything or have further questions, please don't hesitate to ask. If you have problems with the "come" command training, let me know and I will try to be of further assistance.

Take care of yourself and your Labrador Retrievers,

Reader's E-mail - Denise's Response:

Thank You for all your help - I will definitely try this stuff.


To read part I of this e-mail visit: Labrador Retriever Eating from the Table / Garbage - part I

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