Why is my dog stealing food when I feed him so well?. This is a question that vexes many a dog owner.To comprehend why you need to understand the survival tactics of dogs in the wild. One if the main reasons for the dog’s success as a species are their sublime skills at scavenging and scrounging food. In the wild, wolves are adapted to eating just about anything, and they are always on the lookout for a free meal.
So a dog stealing food is not unnatural. Even after 15, 000 years of domestication, our pet dogs still have a “food obsession”. They’re virtually programmed to take any food they can get.And you can’t blame them really, instinct tells them that the next meal may be a long time coming, even if you’ve been serving them two square meals a day for the last 10 years!
Not that any of this alleviates the frustration of having your lunch stolen from the kitchen counter, but at least you understand the reason for your dog stealing food.Does that mean you have to accept that any food left within reach of your dog’s hungry jaws is fair game? ‘Course not.
Dogs are quite capable of learning and accepting boundaries. Your job as a dog owner is teaching them what those boundaries are.
Dog Stealing Food: Setting Boundaries
If you want to stop your dog stealing food, then the first rule applies to you – not the dog. You need to immediately stop feeding your dog from the table.Yes, I know that dogs are expert moochers, and those puppy dog eyes are impossible to resist. But if you break off a corner of your sandwich and toss it to the dog every time you’re eating, guess what?
The next time you leave your sandwich unattended, your dog will think he has permission to help himself.The important thing is that boundaries are set and maintained. You should not be sending mixed signals to your dog. He needs to understand that this is your food, and he has no right to it.
Another boundary I’d recommend is that you bar your dog from the kitchen. Dogs in food preparation areas is generally a bad idea. It’s dangerous, unhealthy, and puts all kinds temptations in front of your dog.
Your dog should also be taught that tables and counters are out-of-bounds. The best way to do this is to avoid leaving anything on there that would tempt the dog to jump up. He’s hardly going to take the risk if there’s no potential reward.
With some dogs, however, they’ll jump up just to see if there’s anything they can scrounge or steal.
You should discourage this behavior by making it an unpleasant experience for the dog. I don’t mean punishment, which rarely works in any case, I mean putting something on the counter to scare him off.
One option is to use an aversion spray, like bitter apple, which dogs find unpleasant. Another, low tech, an option is to place a few soda cans on the counter filled with a few pennies, marbles or small pebbles.
When the dog jumps up he knocks this off and it makes a loud noise which will scare him off.
Quite often, a dog that pushes behavioral boundaries – whether it is by stealing food or other unwanted behaviors – does so because he doesn’t respect your authority.
As long as your dog sees you as the pack leader, you are unlikely to face counter jumping or food stealing issues. But you need to maintain strong and consistent pack leadership.
Don’t confuse your dog by allowed behaviors some of the time and not others. If you regularly feed your dog from your plate or invite him into the kitchen to clean up spills, you are setting yourself up for a food-thieving problem.
Quite aside from the fact that human food is not ideal for a dog, letting your dog get away with stealing food is not a good thing. Especially as it is quite easy to stop a dog stealing food with a little training and discipline.
See Also: Dog Obedience Training
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