After some months working with my dog I've managed to more or less get my 8-year-old beagle to behave enough to live indoors with near full access to all areas of the house. This is something that seems to make him very happy, as we don't have a yard and he used to be kept on the small balcony.
He's even better behaved on walks now. I still haven't managed to break him of his obsession with garbage, however. My understanding of training methods is extremely limited, as I've only been studying about pet ownership and training since becoming his co-owner less than a year ago. I've been trying my best at applying principles of positive reinforcement, which is how I've gotten him to behave well within certain contexts, but I'm really very unfamiliar with animals in general as of yet and have very little clue what sorts of incentives to offer - or more accurately, I don't know how to connect refraining from bad behavior with rewards.
So far I've experimented with "NO" which only works temporarily. I've tried lightly slapping him whenever he shoves his head into the garbage at home, then when that didn't work I tried chasing him out to the balcony and giving him 30 minute time outs. I've gotten him to behave when he knows I'm watching. But when my back is turned, he's sometimes getting into the garbage or the cereal box or something else.
I've carried out the training presented in the "It's Yer Choice" video, and that worked wonderfully - when I'm watching him. When I'm out of sight, the training seems to break down. It doesn't happen every time I'm not watching him, but it happens often enough to be a bit of a headache.
Should I just wait for him to get used to living indoors? Am I doing anything that's reinforcing the garbage obsession? Is there a better way for me to get him to behave when I'm not watching as much as when I am watching?