How to Train Your Dog to Not Eat Human Food

Hard
3-6 Months
Behavior

Introduction

Does your dog sit next to you at the table begging for your dinner instead of eating his own? Have you ever made yourself a sandwich and left it on the counter only to find your pup has snatched it when you weren't looking? Dogs are notorious scavengers, the urge to behave like this is deeply embedded in their ancestry. But, this doesn't necessarily mean it’s an acceptable behavior.

At the same time, if you have ever given your pup a "treat" in the form of tidbits from your plate or food that is left where he can get to it, you have only succeeded in reinforcing the fact he is getting rewarded (in the form of food) for this type of behavior. While it can be challenging to train your pup not to eat human food, it is not impossible. 

Defining Tasks

Training your dog not to eat human food falls under the general training, but can be very challenging. The basic command you must train your dog to obey is 'leave it' or your own version. No matter what command you finally settle on, be sure you always use the exact same wording and that you do so with a firm voice that tells your pup you mean business and expect him to obey.

As with most commands you train your dog to obey, this one can take a few weeks for your pup to learn he must do as he is told. But once he learns it, you should find that not only does he stop begging, but in most cases, he will ignore foods that are left within his reach (at least for a while, as any dog will give in to the temptation from time to time).

Getting Started

Getting started can be a bit challenging, but you have to begin somewhere. Be sure to have plenty of his favorite dog treats on hand to reward your furry friend for getting things right. You may also need to lay in a supply of top quality dog food if you are not already feeding your pup the best, to ensure his nutritional needs are being met. Beyond this, you will need his favorite human food, a quiet place to work, and an ample supply of patience. 

The Waiting Game Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Place his food out
Each day place a bowl of your dog's favorite food in the required amount out for him to eat.
Step
2
Give him an hour
Do this twice each day and give your dog an hour to eat before picking the bowl up.
Step
3
Try later
If he doesn't eat it the first time, try again later in the day.
Step
4
Never give in
Do not give in, your dog will not let himself starve.
Step
5
No snacks
Most important of all, do not give him anything else to eat and keep all other foods out of his reach.
Step
6
Smarter than you realize
Your dog is smarter than you may give him credit for. Once he realizes he is no longer going to be given people food just because he is begging and hasn't eaten, he will eat the food you put out for him. The more you repeat this type of training the faster he will learn.
Recommend training method?

The Leave the Food Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
A quiet starting spot
Start in a quiet room with a plate that has people food on it.
Step
2
Treats in hand
Have his favorite treats on hand.
Step
3
Leave it!
Each time your dog approaches the plate, tell him to "Leave it!"
Step
4
Praise for success
When he does so praise him and offer him the treat. Be sure not to punish him if he fails the test, but be ready to continue working with him.
Step
5
Repeat until he gets it
Be sure to do this every time you see him approaching human food and in time he will simply stop on his own. This method tends to work very well for most dogs and again, the concept of 'leave it' can be applied to anything else you don't want to end up in your furry friend's mouth.
Recommend training method?

The Treat Space Method

Effective
0 Votes
Step
1
Find a spot
Start by finding a spot for your dog to lie down and stay while you are preparing your meals and eating.
Step
2
Lie down right here!
Teach your dog to lie down on this same spot each time you start preparing a meal.
Step
3
Reward time
When he does, reward him with a treat and plenty of praise.
Step
4
Rinse and repeat
Repeat this process until your dog goes and lays down by himself in hopes of getting a treat.
Step
5
You win
Eventually, your dog will simply go lie down on his own without the need for commands or treats. This method works much better if you give your pup a nice comfy bed to lie on during your meal times.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Stella
Labradoodle
2 Years
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Stella
Labradoodle
2 Years

Stella had never eaten human food till my older brother came to visit and started giving her human food.(even though we told him not to) She never begs for food and will go lie down in her bed or leave the room when we eat but if we leave the room or leave some food out she will eat it. What should I do?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
912 Dog owners recommended

Hello Eleanor, First, follow the Leave It method from the article linked below. When pup can Leave dropped treats and food alone (which shouldn't be hard for her), then progress to plates of people food on the ground and practice calling her past the food - be ready to block pup from getting to the food if she decides to disobey though - you have to be quick. As pup improves, gradually add more and more distance between you and the food. Leave It: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite I also suggest setting up some booby traps with food while you are out of the room. When you leave the room, tell pup to Leave It if there is food around, so pup will understand that they did something wrong if they try to get the food, then the booby trap will correct the stealing behavior if they go for the food. There are a couple of ways to booby trap food. One is to use a low-level stimulation collar or vibration collar and hide a camera to spy on pup and correct with the remote that corresponds to the collar if they try to get the food. If you go this route, you need to spend time learning how to properly fit and use an e-collar. SolidK9Training and TaketheLeadDogTraining on YouTube have some howto videos on fitting, finding the right stimulation level, and using the collars. Another way is to use a device like a Snap trap - which looks like a fake mouse trap - which makes a noise and jumps if touched but won't actually close on the dog - this device could be put by food or under a napkin that also has something delicious smelling under it - so pup tries to move the napkin to get to the food and activates the trap. There are also Scat mats and things you can set up from around your house. One trick it to stack a bunch of metal pot lids on a sheet pan precariously, tie a string through all the handles and tie the other end of the string to a hunk of food like a bagel with peanut butter between the pieces of bread (to make it smell tempting), so that when the dog grabs the food off the table, the attached string will make all the lids fall and make a crashing noise - set it up so that it won't fall on the dog, just make noise. You should be hiding in the next room waiting, and quickly rush into the room to pick up the food she tried to steal before she gets up the courage to grab it again - if she ends up getting the food he may decide it was worth the price of a scare. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Sam
Blue Heeler
4 Months
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Sam
Blue Heeler
4 Months

he’s been eating and begging for human food lately. he was doing fine until my younger family members snuck and started giving him food. i want it to where he doesn’t have a desire for it , but i don’t know if i can since he’s already started eating it. is there any way for me to get him to stop eating it?

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
912 Dog owners recommended

Hello Jazlyn, As long as he is being fed people food still he will continue to want it - so feeding him people food needs to stop first. If you can't stop it because of other people, then you can teach him to do something more polite as a way of asking for it, instead of begging by being pushy and in your space. For example, you can teach him to lie down on a dog bed whenever people food is present and convince family members that they can only feed him if he first goes to his bed and stays quiet on it. That way they can still feed him safe things but only if he is polite about it - making it more likely that the people will comply, than if they cannot do it at all. You might also be able to convince family not to feed him people food but let them feed him healthy treats or pieces of his puppy food when he does a command for them like sit or shake first, then they have a way to spoil him without teaching bad manners. If you Can convince people to stop feeding him people food, then you will need to work on teaching him a behavior to do when people have food, such as lie Down, lie on his bed, or go into the other room - When he does that behavior you can reward him with a piece of his dog food. You can also teach the Out command (which means leave the area) and use that command whenever he is begging. Also, place a food stuffed chew toy on his dog bed or in his crate in the other room during meals to teach him to go there and lie down calmly while others are eating. Out command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ In the end he will do whatever he is rewarded for doing. If that is lying on his bed - he will do that. If he is rewarded for begging or standing close when people cook - and food is given or dropped, he will do that behavior. Make sure that you are rewarding (with his dog food) the behavior that you want him to do and not rewarding the things you don't want him to do. Your family can reward him - but only for polite behavior and with food you agree on is alright. If you can't get family not to feed him their food come up with a plan to teach him polite ways to ask for food, and get family on board with only feeding him safe things when he is being polite and not while he is being rude or pushy. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Ellie
Border Collie
10 Weeks
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Ellie
Border Collie
10 Weeks

Do our puppy preschool teacher had us training with human food?! I don’t like it as I believe it then teaches a dog to smell and sort out human food and be expecting that’s their treats when used in the kitchen.

Is this ok can I refuse to treat her with that type of food

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
912 Dog owners recommended

Hello Janet, Many dogs will differentiate between what's given to them and your own food, but it is absolutely okay to refuse giving your pup human food in class. Personally, I suggest using pup's own meal kibble to train with. Ration out pup's food for the day and use that as training treats for commands and socialization. You don't even have to feed pup their food in a bowl at this age - instead you could completely use their food for training and stuffing hollow chew toys for them to work on while confined. If you use pup's food the way I described above, then pup should be hungry enough to work for their food. If you just give pup additional dog food on top of their other food, the dog food probably won't be motivating enough for pup to pay attention - having pup in the habit of working for their food and being a bit hungry because the treats are their dinner can help keep pup focused during class. With that said, I wouldn't worry too much if pup gets a little piece of chicken here or there, just use their kibble most of the time. If you do need a better treat because the other puppies are just too distracting despite pup being hungry, check out something like Stella and chewy freeze dried meat patties or kibble toppers. Really any real meat freeze dried treat will be motivating, different enough from your food, and also healthy, opposed to some of the cheap greasy treats you often see. Know that the trainer wanting you to use human food doesn't necessarily mean they are a bad trainer. They are probably just trying to make sure all the puppies are focused during class around all the distractions so everyone learns quickly. Using human food has pros and cons. If you are worried about the cons, then use kibble instead and you should be fine! Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Rosie
Labrador Retriever
6 Months
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Rosie
Labrador Retriever
6 Months

She barks and is scared when new people come in the house. She chases and nips the kids butts when theyre running and screaming. She jumps on tables and take food, toys & whatever else she can get a hold of and run off with it. Everyone in the house has given her table food and now she doesn't want to eat her dog food. Its alot to work with and im not sure where to start. Shes still young and is eager to learn.

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, yes, the Labrador Retriever is always willing to learn. They are smart and if Rosie can get away with things, she will - that is what you are seeing here. First, I suggest that the table food habit stop as human food can develop into all kinds of problems for dogs, from simply being overweight to serious health issues like pancreatitis due to foods with more fat etc, than a dog's system is designed for. So, start there. Rosie will not go hungry, she'll eat eventually. If you want to mix a little human food in at first and gradually lessen the amount, that may work. As for the other issues, dog training can take care of a lot of them. The investment in a 4-6 week course and a few hundred dollars is an investment that pays off tenfold. Rosie will learn respect, gain confidence that enables her to behave, and lets her know her place in the family. Please look into it right away, and make sure everyone is on board as far as the no table food and the practicing of training. Start at home with obedience: https://wagwalking.com/training/obedience-train-a-great-dane (read it through) and teaching Rosie to heel (a cornerstone to behaving when in public and on walks: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel The Turns Method. Good luck!

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Sammy
Golden Shepherd
7 Years
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Sammy
Golden Shepherd
7 Years

We adopted a rescue last November. He was homeless for quite some time and was in pretty rough shape before the Humane Society took him in. A couple of months ago he started showing food aggression but only towards human food. You can put your hand in his dish you can take the food away put the food down no problem. But if someone is eating and Sammy wants the food he will go after it and if you try to stop him he will bite you. My goal is to get a trainer next month. Any suggestions for what to do in the meantime? Thanks for any help!

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
234 Dog owners recommended

Hello! That sounds fairly intense. Since you do have a trainer on the way, your best bet (although not always convenient) is to keep him separated while people are eating. If he can't respect the boundaries, then he needs to be removed from the situation for now. So while everyone eats, he can go into another room, go outside, or into his kennel or crate. If you have a kennel for him, always give him a treat when you put him in there during meal times. This isn't a form of punishment. It's just a place to keep him calm while others are eating.

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Wilbur
Mixed
3 Years
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Wilbur
Mixed
3 Years

We got this dog from my fiancé's son and daughter-in-law. We're not sure of his exact age or breed. He's roughly 2 or 3 years old and looks like a corgi mix. They had him for roughly 6 months and got him from the pound. He's my daughter's birthday gift. The issues are: he will not eat any kind of dog food or treats, not even the dog food he was sent here with. He will cry and howl when he's not with my daughter. He also chases the cats trying to play with them. I'm trying to teach him the "off" command when he goes after the cats to play. So far, that's going good with verbal praise and lots of petting. The other issues: not so good. He won't eat any kind of dog food or treats. His son claims that he only ate this cheap kibble stuff. He's going on 2 or 3 days without eating (as far as I know). Today, I tried to give him this Ceasar's type dog food. He sniffed it, licked it, and tried to burry it. We've tried: Gravy Train, Moist 'n Meaty, the dog food he was sent with, Pedigree both wet and dry food, Pet Fresh both wet and dry, Blue Buffalo, and Walmart's generic brand just to name a few. I tried moving his dish to my daughter's room to see if that'd help him eat-where he's comfortable and spends most of his time, I've tried cutting the wet food down into smaller bites, putting it onto a paper plate hoping that he'd think he was eating people food, I've tried tricking him with the dry food by making him think I was eating it and sharing it with him (he ate one piece and spit the rest out), my daughter's tried coaxing him. He just refuses. He's banned from the kitchen at meal times and that's when he's taken to his food and told to eat and stay. He stays but doesn't eat. After a few minutes, he cries and comes bolting downstairs to my daughter. He'll lay there and beg. We tell her to ignore him and continue eating. He still won't eat. He's still full of energy though which makes me think my fiancé's granddaughter is sneaking him people food or my daughter is. How can we get him to eat? I'm getting worried. None of the above training methods have been working. We've been trying these already before I found this site. Also, what can I do to teach him that he doesn't have to be with my daughter 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and that's okay. As long as he can see her and hear her, he's fine. If he can't, he cries like crazy, scratches at the doors or howls until he finds her or she comes home.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
912 Dog owners recommended

Hello Angel, First, I would give pup a lot of structure to build independence and help pup feel more secure to decrease anxiety. Working, Obedience, and Consistency methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you I would crate train pup, teach pup a structured heel, work up to a 1 hour place command where people can walk in and out of the room and pup stay on Place, directional commands like Leave It and Out - to give people space, and a distance down stay. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O75dyWITP1s Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Out - which means leave the area: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Leave It method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Quiet method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Down-Stay: https://www.thelabradorsite.com/train-your-labrador-to-lie-down-and-stay/ Heel- Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Off- section on The Off command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-train-dog-stay-off-couch/ I would switch tactics with food and pause trying to feed pup from a bowl, and instead have pup work for his food via training practice. Many dogs value food more if they have to work for it. To be sure pup will eat it, I would use a dog food that resembles people food a bit more, like Ziwi peak's freeze dried food. Once pup is regularly eating via the training treats, I would slowly sneak some regular dried kibble in with the ziwi peak type food. You may eventually want to stick with something like Nature's variety raw boost, that mixes those types of food already long term even. After pup is working for their food and eating enough that way with the kibble incorporated, put part of pup's portion in dog food stuffed chew toys, puzzle toys, kong wobble, or similar toys pup has to work to get the food out of. Those may allow you to hand feed less and transition to a bowl if pup still finds that fun enough to motivate them. For this to work others will need to stop feeding people food if they are doing so - give them all access to pup's daily ziwipeak allotment if they want to give pup treats for doing things they like, so the people can also follow through and have a way to "spoil pup". If you can get pup to eventually eat normal meals out of something like a kong wobble. Once pup is comfortable doing that, the top of the kong wobble can be screwed off, leaving a red bowl you can feed pup out of, that they associate with fun. Feeding part of pup's food as treats and in toys long term can be good for pup's long term mental health also though, so you can continue that as well, as long as you also have a convenient option. If things don't improve, I would also speak with your vet to make sure there is not a medical reason why pup won't eat, like an infection, parasites, allergy, blockage, bacterial imbalance, ect...that needs to be addressed to help them get their appetite back. I am not a vet. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Mocha
toy poodle
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
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Mocha
toy poodle
2 Years

My dog eats food that he is not allowed to eat(human food, pens, chocolate, onions, fur, hair, etc) and when we take it away, she gets angry. She also "attacks" or lunges herself to anyone entering the door and barks whenever someone is passing through. We want to stop this kind of behavior, what should we do?

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
234 Dog owners recommended

Hello! You will want to start out by teaching her "leave it". Leave is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone. Instructions on leave it will be at the end of this response. After about a week or so of working on the command, you can start applying the command to anything you want her to leave alone/not get into/not go after. Any time she even looks at an item, you give the command leave it. Once she breaks her attention away from it, you reward her with a treat. While this method takes a while, it is the best in relaying the messages across to your dog. Here are the steps for "leave it" Teaching a dog 'leave it' Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions.

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Question
Theo
Rat Terrier
5 Months
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Theo
Rat Terrier
5 Months

My puppy does not like to eat his food and likes to bite.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
234 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Here is information on puppy nipping/biting. Nipping: Puppies may nip for a number of reasons. Nipping can be a means of energy release, getting attention, interacting and exploring their environment or it could be a habit that helps with teething. Whatever the cause, nipping can still be painful for the receiver, and it’s an action that pet parents want to curb. Some ways to stop biting before it becomes a real problem include: Using teething toys. Distracting with and redirecting your dog’s biting to safe and durable chew toys is one way to keep them from focusing their mouthy energies to an approved location and teach them what biting habits are acceptable. Making sure your dog is getting the proper amount of exercise. Exercise is huge. Different dogs have different exercise needs based on their breed and size, so check with your veterinarian to make sure that yours is getting the exercise they need. Dogs—and especially puppies—use their playtime to get out extra energy. With too much pent-up energy, your pup may resort to play biting. Having them expel their energy in positive ways - including both physical and mental exercise - will help mitigate extra nips. Being consistent. Training your dog takes patience, practice and consistency. With the right training techniques and commitment, your dog will learn what is preferred behavior. While sometimes it may be easier to let a little nipping activity go, be sure to remain consistent in your cues and redirection. That way, boundaries are clear to your dog. Using positive reinforcement. To establish preferred behaviors, use positive reinforcement when your dog exhibits the correct behavior. For instance, praise and treat your puppy when they listen to your cue to stop unwanted biting as well as when they choose an appropriate teething toy on their own. Saying “Ouch!” The next time your puppy becomes too exuberant and nips you, say “OUCH!” in a very shocked tone and immediately stop playing with them. Your puppy should learn - just as they did with their littermates - that their form of play has become unwanted. When they stop, ensure that you follow up with positive reinforcement by offering praise, treat and/or resuming play. Letting every interaction with your puppy be a learning opportunity. While there are moments of dedicated training time, every interaction with your dog can be used as a potential teaching moment.

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Enzo
American Bulldog
11 Weeks
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Enzo
American Bulldog
11 Weeks

Hello I have recently bought enzo to join my family of me my partner and 2 girls. Its all totally knew to me and any advice would be amazing. He often takes food and begs a lot especially when its mt 1 year old. Toilet training is proving difficult also. I read so many different things I've no idea whats best to follow another thing is when he is being told no or knows he shouldn't of done something he barks excessively none stop. Any help would be massively appreciated. Thank you
Sadie

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
234 Dog owners recommended

Hello! You will want to start out by teaching him "leave it". Leave is great for anything you want your dog to leave alone. Teaching “leave it” is not difficult. Begin the lessons inside your home or in an area with very few distractions. Here are the steps for teaching “leave it”: Make sure you have two different types of treats. One type can be fairly boring to the dog, but the other type should be a high-value treat that he finds pretty delicious. You will also want to make sure that the treats are broken up into pea-sized pieces so it won’t take him too long to eat them. Put one type of treat in each hand. If you like to train with a clicker as your marker, you can also hold a clicker in the same hand that holds the high-value treat. Then, place both of your hands behind your back. Make a fist with the hand that is holding the treat of lower value and present your fist to your dog, letting him sniff. Say “leave it” and wait until he finishes sniffing your fist. As soon as your dog is done sniffing, you can either click with the clicker or say “yes.” Then offer him the higher-value treat in your other hand. Repeat until your dog immediately stops sniffing your hand when you say “leave it.” When you say “leave it” and he stops sniffing right away, leash your dog and then toss a low-value treat outside of his reach. Wait until he stops sniffing and pulling toward the treat. As soon as he does, either say “yes” or click and then give him a high-value treat from your hand. Practice this exercise a number of times. Over time, by practicing “leave it,” your dog should stop pulling as soon as you give the cue. When rewarding him with a treat, make sure that it is something good, not plain old kibble. By doing so, you are teaching him that asking him to leave some food doesn’t mean he won’t get anything, but that in fact he might get something even more delicious. When your dog is reliably responding to the cue, you can teach him that “leave it” can apply to other things as well, not just food on the floor. Repeat the exercise with five different items that are fairly boring to your dog. After using five different “boring” items, start using slightly more exciting items. You know your dog, so you alone know what items he would consider more interesting, but don’t jump to high-value items right away. To increase his chances of success at learning the cue, you want to work up to high-value items gradually. If Kleenex or a piece of plastic, for instance, would attract your dog on a walk, don’t start with those. Choose the items based on your ultimate goal: Anytime you say “leave it,” you want to be confident that your dog will indeed leave whatever you are asking him to leave. . The reward he receives when he leaves an item can change as well. If your dog has a favorite toy, squeak it and play for a moment when he comes running to you after leaving the other item of interest. Most dogs love interacting with us, so a moment of praise or play with a toy can be just as effective as a treat. Keep it fun Even though you’re practicing “leave it” as a way to keep your dog safe, you want him to see it as a fun game you play. When your dog is proficient at the game in your home, start practicing in a variety of locations with more distractions. Potty training: Know Your Pup. As you spend time with your puppy, learn your puppy’s love language. Just as some people prefer gifts, touch, or time spent together, puppies can be the same way. Some puppies love praise or pets, while others prefer treats. As you get to know your puppy, consider what reward your puppy loves the most. Create a Daily Schedule. It is best to have a routine for your puppy. A schedule helps them understand when to eat, play, and “go to the bathroom.” Your puppy should go out frequently and the routine should be the same every time. When? Start the day by taking your puppy outside, and repeating based on age and ability. They should also go out after napping, chewing, playing, and within 10 to 15 minutes of eating. Although some puppies can sleep for seven hours, it is important to set an alarm and take your pup out during the night. When you do, don’t make a fuss about it. Quietly take them outside with minimal stimulation and light. Praise them if they go to the bathroom and gently return them to their bed or crate. You don’t want them to get stimulated and ready to play in the middle of the night! As you get to know your puppy, you will become aware of their individual habits. Click here to learn more about house training schedules for puppies. Where? Take your puppy to a specific area to urinate or defecate. Be consistent. You can create an area by using urine-soaked paper or bowel movements to help create an aroma to stimulate your puppy. How? Take your puppy out on a leash so they can focus on the desired activity. This will help prevent them from wandering off to play. Once your puppy is in the selected area, use your verbal cue, such as “Hurry Up,” “Poopies,” “Go tinkle,” or any phrase your puppy responds to. What? Know the signs that your puppy has to go to the bathroom. Every animal may have a different “I gotta go” gesture, which often include restlessness, sniffing around, circling, scratching at the door, barking, and, eventually, squatting. At the first sign that your pup has to go, calmly and quickly take them outside to their bathroom spot. Deal with Accidents. Accidents are a normal part of house training a puppy. What to Do If you see your puppy in the process of urinating or defecating inappropriately, calmly and quickly interrupt them in the act. Tell them to stop (either by a jarring sound or command), and immediately take them to an appropriate location for elimination. After your puppy goes to the bathroom, lavishly praise them and offer a treat. Thoroughly clean up accidents, so your puppy is not attracted to this area again. Create a consistent feeding and watering schedule. Depending on the age of your puppy, they will eat three to four times a day. A consistent feeding routine can create a regular bathroom schedule. Take away water about 2 hours before bedtime. Learn more about ideal dog schedules here. What NOT to Do Don’t punish your puppy when they have an accident. At that point, it is too late. When a puppy has an accident in the house and they walk away, within seconds they have already forgotten about what they did. Taking them to the scene of the crime and yelling and/or rubbing their nose in it does not help and, in fact, can harm your puppy! Supervise. The best thing you can do is to prevent accidents and the best way to do this is to supervise your puppy at all times. You can tether your puppy to your waist with a five or six-foot leash and carefully observe them for signs that they need to go to the bathroom. If you can’t supervise, then crate or confine your puppy. The more accidents your puppy has in the house, the more confusing it will be for them and this can delay house training. Reward, Reward, Reward. It is important to give your puppy a reward for their good behavior. This can be for commands such as sitting and coming to you, or for appropriately eliminating outside. In a puppy, a reward can be a couple kibbles of puppy food or a treat, such as a small piece of meat. The treat should be exciting for them and only available as a result of good behavior. Crate training can take days or weeks, depending on your dog's age, temperament and past experiences. It's important to keep two things in mind while crate training: The crate should always be associated with something pleasant and training should take place in a series of small steps. Don't go too fast. Step 1: Introduce your dog to the crate Place the crate in an area of your house where the family spends a lot of time, such as the family room. Put a soft blanket or towel in the crate. Take the door off and let the dog explore the crate at their leisure. Some dogs will be naturally curious and start sleeping in the crate right away. If yours isn't one of them: Bring them over to the crate and talk to them in a happy tone of voice. Make sure the crate door is open and secured so that it won't hit your dog and frighten them. Encourage your dog to enter the crate by dropping some small food treats nearby, then just inside the door, and finally, all the way inside the crate. If they refuse to go all the way in at first, that's OK; don't force them to enter. Continue tossing treats into the crate until your dog will walk calmly all the way into the crate to get the food. If they aren’t interested in treats, try tossing a favorite toy in the crate. This step may take a few minutes or as long as several days. Step 2: Feed your dog meals in the crate After introducing your dog to the crate, begin feeding them their regular meals near the crate. This will create a pleasant association with the crate. If your dog is readily entering the crate when you begin Step 2, place the food dish all the way at the back of the crate. If they remain reluctant to enter, put the dish only as far inside as they will readily go without becoming fearful or anxious. Each time you feed them, place the dish a little further back in the crate. Once your dog is standing comfortably in the crate to eat their meal, you can close the door while they’re eating. The first time you do this, open the door as soon as they finish their meal. With each successive feeding, leave the door closed a few minutes longer, until they’re staying in the crate for 10 minutes or so after eating. If they begin to whine to be let out, you may have increased the length of time too quickly. Next time, try leaving them in the crate for a shorter time period. If they do whine or cry in the crate, don’t let them out until they stop. Otherwise, they'll learn that the way to get out of the crate is to whine, so they'll keep doing it. Step 3: Practice with longer crating periods After your dog is eating their regular meals in the crate with no sign of fear or anxiety, you can confine them there for short time periods while you're home. Call them over to the crate and give them a treat. Give them a command to enter, such as "crate." Encourage them by pointing to the inside of the crate with a treat in your hand. After your dog enters the crate, praise them, give them the treat and close the door. Sit quietly near the crate for five to 10 minutes and then go into another room for a few minutes. Return, sit quietly again for a short time and then let them out. Repeat this process several times a day, gradually increasing the length of time you leave them in the crate and the length of time you're out of sight. Once your dog will stay quietly in the crate for about 30 minutes with you mostly out of sight, you can begin leaving them crated when you're gone for short time periods and/or letting them sleep there at night. This may take several days or weeks. Step 4, Part A: Crate your dog when you leave After your dog can spend about 30 minutes in the crate without becoming anxious or afraid, you can begin leaving them crated for short periods when you leave the house. Put them in the crate using your regular command and a treat. You might also want to leave them with a few safe toys in the crate. Vary the moment during your "getting ready to leave" routine that you put your dog in the crate. Although they shouldn't be crated for a long time before you leave, you can crate them anywhere from five to 20 minutes prior to leaving. Don't make your departures emotional and prolonged—they should be matter-of-fact. Praise your dog briefly, give them a treat for entering the crate and then leave quietly. When you return home, don't reward your dog for excited behavior by responding to them in an enthusiastic way. Keep arrivals low-key to avoid increasing their anxiety over when you will return. Continue to crate your dog for short periods from time to time when you're home so they don't associate crating with being left alone. Step 4, Part B: Crate your dog at night Put your dog in the crate using your regular command and a treat. Initially, it may be a good idea to put the crate in your bedroom or nearby in a hallway, especially if you have a puppy. Puppies often need to go outside to eliminate during the night and you'll want to be able to hear your puppy when they whine to be let outside. Older dogs should also initially be kept nearby so they don't associate the crate with social isolation. Once your dog is sleeping comfortably through the night with the crate near you, you can begin to gradually move it to the location you prefer, although time spent with your dog—even sleep time—is a chance to strengthen the bond between you and your pet. Potential problems Whining: If your dog whines or cries while in the crate at night, it may be difficult to decide whether they’re whining to be let out of the crate, or whether they need to be let outside to eliminate. If you've followed the training procedures outlined above, then your dog hasn't been rewarded for whining in the past by being released from their crate. If that is the case, try to ignore the whining. If your dog is just testing you, they'll probably stop whining soon. Yelling at them or pounding on the crate will only make things worse. If the whining continues after you've ignored them for several minutes, use the phrase they associate with going outside to eliminate. If they respond and become excited, take them outside. This should be a trip with a purpose, not play time. If you're convinced that your dog doesn't need to eliminate, the best response is to ignore them until they stop whining. Don't give in; if you do, you'll teach your dog to whine loud and long to get what they want. If you've progressed gradually through the training steps and haven't done too much too fast, you'll be less likely to encounter this problem. If the problem becomes unmanageable, you may need to start the crate training process over again. Separation anxiety: Attempting to use the crate as a remedy for separation anxiety won't solve the problem. A crate may prevent your dog from being destructive, but they may get injured in an attempt to escape. Separation anxiety problems can only be resolved with counterconditioning and desensitization procedures.

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Aspen
Mutt
4 Years
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Aspen
Mutt
4 Years

Any time we set any food on the counter or next to a bed or anything as soon as we aren’t looking she pretty much swallows it whole and then throws it up a few moments later. Also anytime she is left alone with the house (with 3 other animals) we come home to EVERYTHING from boxes to garbage chewed up all of the house... I’m at a loss...

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
912 Dog owners recommended

Hello Kimberlyn, First, I recommend crate training pup and crating them when you leave while pup is learning better manners while you are home. If pup continues to be able to get into things while you are away with no one to stop them, that will under mind other training efforts when you are there. Check out the Surprise method from the article linked below for crate training pup. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate If pup barks in the crate for more than a few days, you may also need to do the following. First, work on teaching the Quiet command during the day using the Quiet method from the article linked below. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bark Second, during the day practice the Surprise method from the article linked below. Whenever pup stays quiet in the crate for 5 minutes, sprinkle some treats into the crate without opening it, then leave the room again. As he improves, only give the treats every 10 minutes, then 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 1.5 hour, 2, hour, 3 hour. Practice crating him during the day for 1-3 hours each day that you can. If you are home during the day, have lots of 30 minute - 1 hour long sessions with breaks between to practice this, to help pup learn sooner. Whenever he cries in the crate, tell him "Quiet". If he gets quiet - Great! Sprinkle treats in after five minutes if he stays quiet. If he continues barking or stops and starts again, spray a quick puff of air from a pet convincer at his side through the crate while calmly saying "Ah Ah", then leave again. Only use unscented air canisters, DON'T use citronella! And avoid spraying in the face. Surprise method: https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate Repeat the rewards when quiet and the corrections whenever he cries. For the food stealing, I recommend teaching Leave It. Check out the article linked below, and especially the section on Leave It and Out. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ For surfing that is happening while you are out of the room, I recommend creating an aversion to jumping on the counter itself. There are a few ways to do this. You can place something like a scat mat on the counter and put a food temptation further back on the counter just out of reach - when pup jumps up the mat gives a static shock - nothing harsh but its uncomfortable and surprising. You can also set up Snap Traps covered lightly with unfolded napkins. When pup touches them on the edge of the counter, they will jump up and make a snapping sound - startling pup. These are designed for this type of purpose so won't actually close on pup like real mouse traps would - don't use real mouse traps because of the risk of injury. You can also stack metal pot lids and pans precariously on the counter. Tie a strong string like twine through all of them and back tie the whole contraption to something secure so that when they fall they can't fall all the way off the counter, then tie another string to the lip or pan that's supporting the precarious set up and tie the other end of that string to a safe food booby trap, like a whole bagel sitting on the counter. The idea is that when pup jumps up and grabs the food, they will pull the objects over and create a loud crashing noise that will surprise them. Because of the back tie string the objects should not fall on pup though. With all of these setups, you will need to set up a camera to spy on pup from the other room and be ready to run in and remove any food left on the counter or floor, so that pup doesn't return to the scene of the crime once things are calm and eat the food anyway - otherwise they may decide that its still worth it to jump up. You will need to practice this setup often with pup in different parts of the counter and with different foods. Don't use any food that could harm pup if they were to eat it - like chicken bones, grapes, chocolate, xylitol, nuts, garlic, or onion. When not practicing the trap, keep counters clean and pup confined away from the area or tethered to you with a hands free leash until pup has thoroughly learned the lesson - jumping up and not being surprised and potentially grabbing food, will negate your training efforts - you want pup to think that the counter is always suspicious now so they give up on jumping up. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Mikom
Husky
6 Years
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Mikom
Husky
6 Years

He wants to jump up on me and the family. Will not walk without being right next to me. How do i get him to walk and be around me and others but not as close as he is now

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
912 Dog owners recommended

Hello Aiden, First, check out the articles I have linked below. Jumping: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-australian-shepherds-to-not-jump Walking - Turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel The Turns method should help pup learn to pay attention to where you are walking, without being up against you as much, since you will be turning and changing speeds a lot and pup will get bumped if they aren't in the heeling position correctly. Shy dogs: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-socialize-a-shy-dog/ It sounds like pup is reserved or a bit fearful. Is pup at all aggressive? If so, I highly recommend hiring a professional trainer who specializes in behavior issues like aggression and fear, comes well recommended by their previous clients who had similar training needs as yours, and who has access to other trainers or a staff to practice counter conditioning pup around safely. If pup is aggressive, I recommend having the trainer help you with the other needs, like the jumping, instead of training on your own, because additional safety measures will be needed when training pup in general. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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BO
American Staffordshire Terrier
2 Years
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BO
American Staffordshire Terrier
2 Years

Hello there,
My Bo is a rescue dog and i dont know what the previous owner was feeding but he doesn't like any type of dog food. He dont eat the kibbles or the wet dog food. He dont even eat the raw meat (but lately, he has been eating raw ground beef).
When I first got him, I did a lotta research on what to feed him and I ended up making a recipe of grounded beef, apples, green beans, carrots, sauerkraut, raw eggs, liver & little bit of sardines. He ate fine for couple a meals and when i was eating my food at the same time, I rewarded him after he finished his meal...
Little did I know, after he got the taste of human food, now he has completely stopped eating dog food. Then I started to cook his food. And even that he has stopped eating. I dont think its a health issue coz, if i give him my food he will eat it completely. So, i have strictly started to put him on a dog food (kibbles) but he doesn't even take a sniff of it. On a first day, he was literally starving himself and vomiting yellow bile like 5 times throughout the day. And later, when i was eating and put my food down to do some work then he came and finished half of my food.
So, it's been couple a day that i have strictly put him on a kibbles from Purina one smartblend lamb and rice. He dont even touch the food for entire day and tries to eat late at night. But only eats the lamb with little bit of kibbles.
Have you ever had a experience with this kind of situation? I dont know how to make him eat his food.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
912 Dog owners recommended

Hello Sudhir, First, I would investigate any health issues with your vet. If pup's stools are normal and there isn't any throwing up or diarrhea, it could be something like an allergy to a common food ingredient, a need for a probiotic, low stomach acid, or something that generally just makes eating unpleasant for pup. Pup's lack of motivation to eat might be overcome by your food when the taste outweighs the discomfort for pup. I am not a vet though so I would pursue this topic with your vet, specifically since pup refused the raw food - many dogs are picky with kibble but refusing raw meat would make me investigate with my vet. If the issue is simply behavioral, first, no more people food, but will continue to hold out for that if you give it occasionally. I would start by pretending like you are giving pup your food with their own food. Have them obey commands to earn bites - it can seem counter intuitive, but dogs often are more motivated by what they think they can't have - like you saw with your own food. I would use a combination of kibble and something like liver or goats milk for the "treats" pup is earnig for their food. (possibly a different type with a different main protein and carb source incase there is an allergy causing pup to avoid eating (I had to feed one of my own dogs a Venison based kibble instead of chicken due to allergies for example). Once pup is working for their food more, you can start to give bigger bites, then have pup earn it but put the reward into their bowl each time. As pup improves, put a bigger "reward" i.e. the food mixture, into their bowl, until you can simply feed pup normally and just have them Sit first. If pup will eat their food alright in the evening, and isn't throwing up in the day, that is fine for many dogs. Some simply aren't hungry in the morning, don't want to eat until after they have been physically active, or won't eat until things are calm. For the dog who needs calm, feeding pup in a closed crate or room by themselves can help them eat. Try to keep yourself calm - it can be hard not to let your own anxiety show and pressure pup, but that often makes pup more suspicious. Instead, act like you have something fantastic pup needs to earn and you are hesitant to give - not something you are begging pup to eat. Pup may have been trained by their previous owner to wait until a cue was given before eating as well. You can try telling pup something like Okay! or Take It when you offer any food. In general, obedience practice, consistent rules and boundaries in the home, structure, and learning new things can help build a nervous dog's confidence too. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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Brenda
German Shepherd
6 Months
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Brenda
German Shepherd
6 Months

Is it possible to teach dog to do not try to eat food from hand of stranger? Thing is she tried to stole the food when someone (who she doesn't know much) went around her. Food was in front of her nose. The man was really angry and wanted to hit her and told me,dog cannot do it at all. But I think he just shouldn't have food in front of her nose. What is your opinion.

Caitlin Crittenden
Caitlin Crittenden
Dog Trainer
912 Dog owners recommended

Hello Katie, Some people are more patient with dogs than others. While most dog owners should have reasonable expectations of their dogs, there will be other people your dog will probably encounter that you won't want to repeat the same scenario with. You can teach a Leave It command, and teach a dog to wait until given permission to eat something. To give pup permission, you can tell pup Okay, or Take It, each time you give the treat, so pup learns that its okay to take something when told to. This will require you to give permission to your dog when you hand them food too, so the training is consistent. First, teach a Leave It command. Check out the section on how to teach Leave It from this article. https://www.petful.com/behaviors/train-dog-not-to-chew/ Once pup is good at leaving the treats, practice dropping treats, and covering them with your foot if pup tries to get them. Once pup disengages from the treat under your foot, give another treat to take as a reward while saying Take It or Okay. Gradually work up to dropping more enticing items like chicken. Once pup has the basics of Leave It down, it's just a matter of practice and slowly adding distance between yourself and the food, additional sources of food, and better foods to practice with. Always be ready to get to the food before pup, and to judge the distance so you know you can get to it first if pup makes a break for the food suddenly during practice. Don't practice with anything that would be unsafe if pup accidently got to it before you - avoid things like chicken bones (which could splinter - plain chicken meat should be fine), grapes, raisins, xylitol, nuts, chocolate, and anything else toxic or undigestible for pup. When pup will leave food alone from your hand and the floor unless told Okay or Take It, you can also practice leaving food on coffee tables while nearby, or having others hold food, while you are nearby to enforce the training if pup tries to steal. It will be far easier to enforce this training if you start at this age than if you wait until pup is an adult, so this is a good thing to teach at this age. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden

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