What is the best way to train our dog to not steal food off the table and counters?
Steffanie, this is a really good question and one that would interest many dog owners. It is a difficult problem to solve because every time your dog manages to steal food, they are being rewarded for the effort, and we know that any behavior that is rewarded is repeated. Some things you can try are to keep things well away from the edge of the kitchen bench and the table, and teach your dog to settle in one part of the kitchen while they are in there with you. You can put a rug or other specific barrier on the floor and they can learn that they are not to go past that point. | 11.05.15 @ 12:57
Management is the first step in preventing unwanted behaviors from happening and being rewarded. If a pup is never left unsupervised while they are learning the rules, they do not have the opportunity to find out that those unwanted behaviors are rewarding. If your dog already was rewarded for unwanted behavior (such as finding food on the counter) you should focus on teaching an alternative behavior to replace it.
In this case, I would recommend teaching your dog to settle on a mat in the kitchen when you are there and rewarding that behavior with food, affection and praise. Set him up for success by not allowing him unsupervised access to the kitchen when there is food on the table or counter. Aversive punishments (like scat mats) can cause fear and anxiety in some dogs and are not recommended by most behaviorists and trainers.
Positive reinforcement for good behavior is the best way to train all species!
| 11.09.15 @ 19:13