Problem Solving For Stealing Food | Rummaging In Trash Cans
An important part of pet ownership is teaching your puppy or dog proper pet manners and how to be a good house guest. It is your responsibility to have control over your dog and to correct bad behavior. Your pet should never be left outside unattended and you should always obey leash laws. Obedience training is an important factor in this process. Knowing a simple command, such as to "drop it", could save your pet’s life. Some corrections should begin when your dog is a puppy, even before he is leash trained, while other corrections require a leash and collar. Remember, your puppy or dog is like a small child. He might misbehave due to curiosity or boredom, not because he knows what he’s doing is unacceptable. Remember, with any unacceptable canine behavior, prevention is easier than treatment.
To correct common behavior problems like stealing, follow these basic steps:
- Get your puppy or dog’s attention using a low-pitched, stern voice saying “No!” or “Ahh!” to stop the behavior.
- Provide an acceptable alternative behavior or distraction.
- Praise correct behavior in a happy voice (“Good dog!”) and pet him or give treats.
The key to stopping your dog from stealing food from the countertop or table is prevention. All dogs would rather eat human food. Therefore, if food is left lying around, the temptation is too great for them not to sample. Do not leave food out where the dog can reach it. Establish a regular feeding schedule and location for your dog’s meals and do not allow the dog to eat anywhere else. If your dog has already learned how to steal snacks, set him up to get caught. Put your dog on leash when it is likely to steal food. As the dog takes the bait, use a corrective jerk and firmly say “No.” Once the dog turns his attention to you, give him lots of praise.
RUMMAGING IN TRASH CANS
A dog’s natural urge and sense of smell will lead him to garbage cans and wastebaskets that contain food odors and interesting papers and packages, many of which could be harmful. The best way to avoid this problem is to keep these items out of your puppy or dog’s reach. If this is not possible, correct the dog with a firm “No” and redirect his attention away from the area with an alternate activity.
Yikes, what to do? I had just finished decorating a Christmas cake to take to a family party and I turn around only to find a certain dog trainer's dog (who shall remain nameless) eating it up, right off the counter. My own dog and I stood there horrified as I realized that even a well-trained dog will steal food if given the opportunity, especially if the dog does not know this is not an acceptable behavior and has never been corrected for it. The key to stopping your dog from stealing food from the countertop or table is prevention. All dogs would rather eat human food. Therefore, if food is left lying around, the temptation is too great for them not to sample. Do not leave food out where the dog can reach it. Also, do not give in to your dog's pleading eyes and reward him/her with a tidbit of food or the dog will become a constant beggar and will encourage food stealing.
Why Dogs Steal Food
Hunger - When a dog is hungry, he will eat what food is available. Make sure your dog receives regularly scheduled, nutritionally balanced meals.
Cooking - The scent of food cooking teases the dog and sets his instincts in gear. Keep the dog securely out of the area while you are cooking.
Table Feeding - When a dog is fed from the table or offered leftovers from the owner's plate, the dog has just been encouraged to do it again and again, whenever he/she can.
Availability - If you leave food out and within reach, assume your dog will take it. It will only take your dog seconds to swoop in and grab that snack.
Problem Solving Techniques
Establish a regular feeding schedule and location for your dog's meals and do not allow the dog to eat anywhere else.
Keep the dog in a crate while you are preparing, cooking and eating food. When mealtime is over and all food is put away, let the dog out of his/her crate and reward with playtime or a special toy.
To keep the dog away from your plate and focused on his/her own bowl, make sure you give the dog a proper diet. Consult a veterinarian to determine your dog's proper diet based on the dog's height, weight, activity, and health.
If your dog only steals food during your mealtimes, find a treat he/she really likes (cheese, peanut butter or cut-up hot dogs). Stuff that food into a hollow bone or Kong toy and give the dog the treat on his blanket, and only when you're eating. Be consistent. The dog will soon learn that if he goes to his place, he'll get a terrific treat.
Try sprinkling some lime juice or bitter apple onto a sandwich and leave it near the edge of a table. Once a dog gets a taste of that sour meal, he will learn to leave people food alone.
Set the dog up to get caught. Put your dog on leash when it is likely to steal food. As the dog takes the bait, offer a corrective jerk immediately and firmly say "No!" Once you have used the corrective jerk satisfactorily, place a bonker (a towel rolled up like a newspaper and tied with string) in locations where the stealing is likely to take place. Throw the bonker at the dog say "No." Use a gentle tone with a shy dog and a firmer tone with a stubborn dog. Once the correction is made, offer lots of praise to your dog for obeying you. If you are not opposed to using a remote training collar that can administer a small electrical correction via a remote control device, this is one of the few behaviors that a remote collar works well with because the dog will think the correction is coming from the behavior rather than you. Consult a qualified trainer or behaviorist for proper usage.
With taller dogs whose front paws can reach the counter tops, try putting double-sided tape on the edge of the counter tops. Most dogs will not like the sticky sensation on their paws and will stop jumping up to avoid the stickiness.
Booby-trap the counter or tabletop - Check out products designed specifically designed to keep your pet off those areas. One possibility is a vinyl mat, such as a Scat Mat, that let you position the mat wherever you want to make a spot off-limits to your pet. When the mat is plugged in, it emits a weak electrical impulse, similar to a static charge. When you pet steps on the mat, he/she will get an unpleasant, but harmless shock. These devices run about $100, but you can move them from place to place as your needs change.
Raiding The Trash Can
Nearly all puppies and most adult dogs will get into the trash can if they possibly can. The enticement of all of those aromas is overwhelming to their sense of smell and expecting your dog to not want to investigate the source of these smells is unrealistic. The fact that you don't smell anyhting is not going to deter your dog's curiosity. In addition to the annoyance of having to clean up the mess, it is also unhealthy, even dangerous, for your dog to raid the trash can. If your dof eats chicken bones, he can easily get a bone stuck in his throat. Paper towels used till be saturated with grease and will likely get eaten, as well as paper plates or disposable containers used to microwave other foods. There might be toxic substances, such as coffe grounds or fabric softener sheets that they might sample. There is the danger of ingesting items that will not pass through their system and might require surgical removal. And finally, there is the danger of broken glass, tin cans, and chemicals from discarded containers that can spill onto food scrapes.
The simpleset solution to putting a lid on your dog's trash rooting habit is to take away the opportunity of getting into the trash in the first place. Purchase a sturdy can that comes with a locking lid. If possible, hide your trash container in a cabinet or pantry where the dog can't get to it. Outdoors, keep your trash can on the porch, in the garage, or other enclosed area where your dog won't be able to reach it.
You can also try placing a deterent in front of the trash can, such as a Scat Mat (available at most pet stores). When plugged in, the mat emits a weak electrical impulse, similar to a static charge. When your pet jumps on the mat, he'll get an unpleasant but harmless shock. The charge can be set to varying levels, makings as well as larger dogs, and the mat can be moved from place to place. The downside is these mats can cost upward of $100.00.
Try setting up a booby trap. This can be effective because it corrects the dog at the exact moment of the unwanted behavior, so the dog learns precisely what not to do. Purchase several Snappy Trainers from a pet store or mail-order catalog. A Snappy Trainer has a mechanism like a mouse trap, but it won't catch your dog's paw or injure the animal in any way. Set the Snappy Trainers and lay them upside down, on top of the trash, in the can, or on the floor in front of it. When your dog tries to dig through the trash, the Snappy Trainer will go off, snapping and popping in the air. The sound and motion of the devices should teach your dog that raiding the trash gets him nothing but a good scare.