Help! My dog keeps stealing food in the park | TeamDogs
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Help! My dog keeps stealing food in the park

The Dogfather explains how to stop a dog eating from strangers’ BBQs and picnics

Paul McAuley

Posted 2 months ago

Graeme Hall has revealed his top tips on how to help your dog stop stealing food from others.

On his recent podcast, the star of Channel 5 series Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly provided his expert advice to listeners whose pets were being mischievous and enjoying snacks that weren’t theirs.

One listener, Eleanor, was fearing the summer months with her 11-month-old Dalmatian as the pair live in the city and Eleanor is scared when walking through local parks with BBQs and picnics proving too tempting for her pup.

Another listener, Naomi, had similar problems with her dog, Leyla.

She said her miniature schnauzer is very greedy but needs to teach her to stop eating everything she sees outside as there have been concerns of poisonous meat being left out.

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Graeme shared that the key was having a good recall.

To build on this, you should start practicing your recall with no distractions and then begin to add more and more as you go.

He explained: "If stealing food is the biggest distraction ever, you could set up little bits of food in the back garden, when you've got a really good recall, do a test. He has a bit of food there but when I call you and you come away from it, you get something even better when you come back, rewarding them."

Graeme says this helps tailor your recall to this particular problem.

Another suggestion was by using your dog's favourite toy if they have one.

If your dog learns a command that gets them to open their mouth and let go of the toy - they will always associate this command with that action and therefore dropping food they shouldn't have in their mouths.

The 54-year-old added: "The third string on my bow I would probably have them on a long line, so that actually they don't have the ability to wave fingers at you and disappear into the distance with a scotch egg."

He admitted that teaching your dog not to eat everything can be hard as they are inquisitive, especially younger dogs.

The Yorkshireman advised: "I would start at home with two (closed) hands with food in them and put your hands out.

"The food you want them to refuse in the right hand, the dog goes to sniff and nibble at your fingers and as they give up you add in your command, 'leave it', the dog backs off and you open up the other hand with a treat."

This shows that if the dog tries to force their way to steal food they get none anyway, whereas if they back off, they get praise and food - a double whammy.

Once the dog is comfortable you can switch up the hands so it is more random and then they will learn, 'leave it', as their command.

A third listener was struggling with his cockapoo inside the home rather than out and about. Kiernan said he has tried feeding his pup Sutee before, during and after the same time he eats but nothing is working as the 9-month-old just cries.

Graeme mentioned how at this age, dog's hormones are raging as they need to build a body. However, if it isn't their age, it can be because someone feeds them from the table.

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To fix this issue, Graeme explained: "When he is jumping up at the table, carefully but firmly, brush him off. He just needs to learn that it doesn't matter what he tries, it doesn't ever happen.

"Just get through the optimistic stage to the point where he thinks ‘I've given this everything I've got and they never ever feed me from the table.’”

*Series 2 of Talking Dogs with Graeme Hall podcast is available on all the usual Podcast platforms*

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