Help my dog's a food thief! What to do when your dinner isn’t safe

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Help my dog's a food thief! What to do when your dinner isn’t safe

Pup parents often love to share everything about their lives with their furry friend but sometimes we want to keep our dinner all to ourselves (especially when said dinner could contain ingredients that are harmful to your dog!). So what's a dog owner to do when their dog insists on stealing food off their plate, kitchen counter tops, or even the braai grill? 

If your pooch has a habit of thieving extra snacks from the kitchen counter when you're not home then the key may be to remove all temptation for your dog. Make a habit of visually sweeping the counter tops before leaving the house and remove any items that may tempt your dog or that could be potentially dangerous.Encourage everyone else that lives in your home to do the same and to make a habit of putting away food items when they're not in use. 

Of course, if your dog is stealing food when you're in the house or even the same room as him then there's a bigger training issue that may need to be addressed.It's important to remember that your pup isn't a bad dog - dogs are opportunists and the truth is your dog simply doesn't understand that it's not ok to grab delicious looking food right off the counter.

Big brother is watching

If your dog tends to steal treats when you're not in the room then it could help to train your pet into thinking that you've got eyes everywhere, even when you're out of the room. Try leaving something tempting on the counter for your dog to see when you're not in the kitchen - leave it far enough away from the edge of the counter that he can't grab it. 

The next step could seem a little undercover cop but it's bound to work on your pet! Set up your laptop in the kitchen with the built-in camera facing the food item. View the footage from your smartphone using an app that allows you to view it on your phone and when you see your pup go to grab the treat, rush into the room and say; "Leave it!" Try this trick a few times over a week and your dog will start to believe you are indeed everywhere at all times. Don't have a fancy-pants laptop camera? Try using a hand mirror and hiding around the corner so you can spy on your dog without him seeing you.

Keep those paws on the floor

Another way to solve the problem is to teach your pooch that having all four paws on the floor, or lying down in his special spot in the kitchen is rewarding. This strategy is all about having your dog understand that it is more rewarding to stay on the floor than it is to jump up on the counter. When you're working in the kitchen, any time your dog has all four paws on the floor, throw him a treat. Reward your dog's good behaviour in this way often and your pup will soon realize that he only receives a treat when he is on the floor and that he never gets rewarded by jumping up on the counter.

If after a few weeks, your dog isn't responding well to the above techniques, then it may be time to seek help from a dog trainer or behaviourist. A professional can help you figure out where the communication is breaking down between you and your dog.