You've probably heard about someone's house being robbed despite having a dog. Usually, while the place was being shaken down, the pooch was out back munching on a delicious steak. Worse still are the stories of evil passers-by handing over hotdogs filled with poison through the fence to an unsuspecting canine. No matter what way you look at it, it's in your dog's best interests not to accept food from a stranger!
It can be pretty difficult to convince your furbaby not to eat a scrumptious treat. For the most part, dog poisoning is rare, but it does happen. People who are at high risk of this being an issue are those who are in neighborhoods with a lot of crime and those whose professions make them a target (like a police officer).
To start training a dog to avoid food from strangers, it's best to wait until the pup is an adolescent. The training can take weeks of daily sessions to perfect. You also have to take into consideration how broad of a spectrum of avoidance you're looking for. Do you want the dog only to take food from you? Should they eat only inside the house? Would you like to use a special bowl for eating? All of these factors will be at play during training.
Depending on how extensive your training is going to be, you're going to need a lot of stuff to prepare. Some things to help you along the way are:
A Whole Selection of Treats: Unless you only want your dog to abhor one specific food, you need to use a variety of tasty goods in your sessions. Get both common dog treats and people-food favorites (think cheese and hot dogs).
A Special Food Dish: If you're going to teach your dog only to eat from one bowl, get one that stands out a bit. It's also important to make sure that it can be easily replaced.
A Bad-Tasting Agent: Certain methods include the use of something that tastes awful to dogs. Hot sauce or bitter spray work well for this task.
A Disciplinary Collar: The more serious the training, the more likely that you will need to employ either a prong collar or an electric collar for corrections.
An Assistant: It's much easier to teach a dog this behavior if you have a stranger on hand to test out how things are going. Try to get someone that your pup has never met to help you.
A Leash: For some of these activities, a leash that extends and retracts works best.
Lots of Dedication: To complete food avoidance training, you're going to need to devote time for at least one session a day. And don't expect this to happen overnight. It may take weeks before your pooch understands what's going on.
If there is a very real risk of your dog being poisoned or if his duty is to guard a property, the dog's life may depend on him being able to refuse food from strangers. In this instance, negative consequences must be used to help the canine associate foreign food with unpleasant things. Keep the corrections controlled, and be sure to research safe techniques.
Below are some of the most effective ways to teach your furry friend not to trust food from unknown people. They vary in severity and in effectiveness, so see which method matches your needs the best.