Correcting food-stealing behavior in a dog can be challenging, because the act is self-rewarding. When a dog nabs a hotdog or sandwich from the counter and eats it, the treat is just reinforcing his undesired behavior. To prevent a bad habit from forming, put a stop to the scavenging behavior as soon as you notice it. There are several things you can do to correct your furry pal.
If your dog can’t get to the food, he can’t steal it. Stopping your dog’s food-stealing behavior can be as simple as closing the door to the kitchen or blocking his access with baby gates. Also, keep food out of your dog’s sight so he’s not tempted to steal it. Store food in the fridge or in cabinets with child safety latches.
Startle Your Dog
A loud noise can quickly make your dog think twice about stealing food. When you catch your dog in the act, shake a can that’s partially filled with coins or small stones. The noise will shock your furry pal and make him stop what he’s doing. You can then redirect him to an acceptable activity. Consistently correct him in this manner. He’ll start associating the startling noise with stealing food, and might decide to stop the undesired behavior just to avoid the unpleasant sound of the can.
Play Games and Exercise
Undesired behaviors in dogs often stem from boredom and pent-up energy. You can prevent these by making sure your dog gets enough mental and physical stimulation. Frequent walks, playing games with your furry pal, and allowing him to meet new people and other dogs can keep him entertained and tire him out. He might just decide to nap instead of scavenge. For mental stimulation, obedience training and food-stuffed puzzle toys might help.
One way to teach your dog right from wrong is by setting a booby trap. Stack a bunch of empty cans on top of each other to form a pyramid. Attach a piece of strong to one of the cans at the bottom of the pyramid and attach a small piece of meat at the end of the string. Place the cans at the edge of a counter so the string with the meat on it hangs down. When your little rascal goes to steal the meat, he’ll pull the string and the cans will fall all around him and startle him. He’ll think twice about stealing food again.