Hi again Jan
Yes…I’m still here.
I suspected that “Beagle syndrome” was the main issue with Coco. But even though her desire for food is there regardless of whether she is alone or not, there may still be an obsessive part to the problem (as in obsessive compulsive disorder). This is we’ll documented in humans too. And anxiety plays a role. Separation anxiety is only one form of anxiety in dogs. There is more to anxiety than simply feeling anxious!
I mentioned the muzzle mainly as an aid to stop the loss of your food rather than to fix her problem…it’s not the answer, just a stopgap measure. The two main ways to tackle this problem are as I described….stopping the access and working on her “mind”.
Barrier? Nothing beats a door but I understand that incurs costs and may not be practical! If she’s not a destructive dog then a section of garden lattice could be cut to fit the entranceway. It wouldn’t look so good but it’s a matter of weighing things up…costs of making a door, the look of the barrier and a Beagle getting fatter. A mobile piece of lattice (or similar) can at least be removed at important times.
Sprays are totally useless as is laying baits with a nasty taste added. A Beagle’s nose can differentiate between a host of smells even when all presented together.
She won’t “grow” out of it…in fact obsession with food is something seen commonly in dogs with dementia. But of course if there’s an anxiety component and that is addressed then we may see some improve in time.
I would still persist with the activity balls and make sure she gets a good walk each day and plenty of quality play time with family members. This provides her with “the hunt” that carnivores need. Many anxiety issues stem from an inactive lifestyle. Do you see the correlation with humans? But her breed is most definitely the biggest stumbling block….if only we could magically alter that! But on the other hand Beagles are such loving creatures, would we want to?
So you must do your best to prevent the access to food. As I said in my last post…the food is the reward for the hunt (the stealing). The reward must be removed. And we must consider the risks of her overeating, particularly if she gets into potentially damaging food….fats, garbage, etc. pancreatitis is common in Beagles!
Press on and let me know how you go. I always appreciate follow up.