Dear Critter Corner: Our pup recently discovered that he is tall enough to reach the counter and unfortunately has been rewarded a few times by stealing food. I am concerned with the holidays around the corner and the food that will be out when guests are around. How can I curb his thieving ways?
Almost every dog owner has encountered this challenge when their pup has learned they are tall enough to reach that prized area that usually harbors something fabulous! Holidays can be an even more challenging time as there is an abundance of food around.
One of your first lines of defense will be to manage the environment when you are not there to watch them. Think about using baby gates or x-pens to close off the kitchen or dining area while you are away. Make sure that you are putting things away so that if your pup does jump up, they can’t be rewarded.
You can also work on teaching your pup an ‘off’ cue. If you see them about to jump up, cue ‘off’ and once they have 4 feet on the floor, tell them how good they are. If they do happen to get something off the counter and you see it happen, try using your ‘leave it’ or ‘drop it’ cues. Some pups really enjoy the game of chase and may be stealing items to start to that game, don’t fall victim to their game. Try turning the game around and make one of their toys look really fun or try having them offer a ‘sit’.
You can teach your pup to go to a place while in the kitchen and reinforce them for being on that spot. This is also great for the pup who begs during mealtimes. I also like to use a ‘wait’ cue which means that my pup can’t pass the door way into the kitchen until I let them know it’s okay. If you would like some extra help, you can schedule a 1:1 Consultation with one of our behaviorists or call our Behavior Helpline at ext. 183.
Tasha Suda is the Lead Dog Trainer for the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA Behavior Department. For more information, please visit www.phs-spca.org, call 650-340-7022 or email email@example.com.
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Author: Tasha Suda