Dogs who snag food from the counter, kitchen or coffee table are a nuisance. While a puppy may seem cute when he snags a chip off the plate you left on the floor, you will change your mind when your adult dog surfs his way through dinner one evening. The easiest way to prevent your dog from stealing food is to never allow the habit to develop. Dogs have keen noses and quick mouths, however, and it is unlikely that many will make it through puppyhood without at least a taste of human food.
Clean up your act. The easiest way to prevent your dog from stealing food is to make sure he doesn't have access to anything you don't want him to have. Keep the counters cleared off, don't leave the dining room table unattended at mealtime and never feed him from the table or counter.
Establish a regular feeding schedule. By feeding your dog at the same time every day, he will learn when his next meal is coming and is less likely to feel hungry between meals.
Teach your dog the "leave it" command. Offer a treat by sitting it on the coffee table or floor near your dog. When he reaches for it, say "leave it" and cover it with your hand. When he backs off, he say "OK" and give him a treat. Continue the process until you don't have to cover the treat with your hand and he leaves it on command.
Set your dog up. Leave an item that you think may interest your dog on the table. Hook his leash to his collar so you will have quick access if you need it. Stay close to observe his behavior, because the key is stopping him before he gets the food. When he starts to nose over to the table, say "leave it." If he does leave it, call him to you for a treat. If he goes after the food on the table, walk over, tug his leash and say no. Repeat the process until he ignores food left out.
Items You Will Need
- Baby gates or crate
- Some dogs are more persistent than others when stealing food. If, after working with your dog consistently, he still wants to steal food, you may need to use a crate or baby gates to block access to the kitchen when you cannot supervise him.
- Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images