How to Stop Your Dog From Stealing Food

How to Stop Your Dog From Stealing Food

Sep 20, 2022

One of the most common problems that dog owners face is keeping their dogs off of the table and counters. If there is any food around a hungry dog is going to find it. That powerful nose guides them to the counter without even needing to see over the edge. They have the athletism to jump up and steal whatever is there. With the holidays slowly approaching there is going to be a lot of hard work put into cooking dinner, and the last thing you want is for your dog to get a head start on dinner. Here are three ways to stop your dog from stealing your hard-earned dinner.

1. Put all of the food away and keep things out of reach.
This is very difficult to do if you have a large family that is not on the same page but it requires the least amount of effort and time on your part. If everyone put their food away or kept it out of reach then your dog will never steal anything. There is nothing to steal! What actually happens behaviorally, is that your dog will start to give up on looking for the food because they never get any. If you went to the fridge to find something to eat and there was nothing in there, yes you would go back a few times out of habit.(we have all been there), but eventually, you will give up and maybe order a pizza or go food shopping. That is exactly what we want your dog to start to think. Keep the food out of reach and they will not get rewarded for stealing the food.

2. Put the dog away when you have food out.
This is another way to manage the behavior until you can fully train your dog to stop stealing food. By keeping them away from the food you are stopping them from practicing bad behavior. The more your dog gets rewarded for checking the counter for food and stealing something, the more they are going to do it. This method does not teach your dog to ignore the food on the counter but your food will be safe and your dog will not practice bad behavior with this method.

3. Interrupt your dog and teach them an alternative
This is my favorite method of stopping a dog from stealing food. You are going to set up your dog to be interested in the counter or how they steal food. Setting it up correctly will pique their interest but not let them get the food if they tried. Putting it in a Tupperware or just out of reach is a great setup. When they go to steal the food you are just going to call them over to you. If your dog knows their name, you are already ahead of the game. If your dog does not know their name and recalls well, teach that first and then work on interrupting them. When you call them over to you, they will leave the food on the counter and get rewarded by you. Once they get to you give them a treat and praise. Repeat this until your dog stops going over to the counter. The more you practice the harder it will be to distract your dog with the food on the counter. They learned that turning to you is the best way to get treats and a lot less effort.

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