We all know how much dogs love their food, (depending on the breed even more so – Labradors, we’re looking at you!) The excitement levels when the dog food comes out of the cupboard are proof of this. Our friends at All Paws Pets, who specialise in dog training and behaviour, kindly shared some top training tips for food safety with us:
“Some dogs may be very wary of letting anyone get close to them – or their food bowl – whilst they’re eating. Dogs find food incredibly valuable, and therefore wanting to keep it and not share is completely normal. Defensive behaviour, such as growling or becoming tense, happens when a dog feels worried about what is going to happen. They may think that you are going to take their food away, and/or that their personal space is being invaded. These actions are often described as food guarding or being food possessive.
This is not the behaviour of a relaxed dog. As owners, it is our responsibility to help show our dogs that they can relax in our presence around food, and that these valuable items are not going to be taken from them.
You may want to start your training by giving your dog a food toy on their bed, or in their crate, while you are eating your dinner. They will start to learn that they get something nice to enjoy on their own at that time. Teaching a ‘go to bed’ cue can be helpful but ensure your dog has something nice to do and is rewarded for staying on his bed.
Teaching your dog to sit and wait before you put their food down can also be a good way of encouraging self control around food, and will also help them feel like they are earning a reward for their good manners.
Teaching your dog a ‘leave’ command by offering a high value swap item such as a tasty treat or toy, is a great way of you being able to take their food while offering a reward for their cooperation. Ensuring you teach your dog these basic manners as soon as you get them, even if a young pup, will mean it becomes a habit as they grow older. This positive training will ensure a good, strong bond with your dog, and will help to keep them relaxed and comfortable with food and toys.
Training can also help to ensure dogs are calm and polite around food. The last thing you want when you have a busy household is a dog begging at the table every meal time or worse, stealing food.
Dogs can quickly learn to beg or snatch if they are allowed to even a few times, as they will be persistent in hope of the next opportunity. So it’s very important that the whole family is on board with training, and nobody is secretly sneaking the odd scrap to the dog as this will undo all the hard work. This does take time and a lot of patience but eventually your dog will give up the begging, and you will see that it was worth all the effort.”
To find out more about All Paws Pets and their brilliant work with dogs, head here http://www.allpawspets.co.uk/.