How to Train a Puppy to Only Eat from You

Medium
1-6 Weeks
General

Introduction

Your new puppy is a bundle of fun. Every morning you look forward to walking downstairs to see their wagging tail. However, it’s hard to tell whether they’re excited to see you or they’re eagerly awaiting food. Whatever the reason is, you’re just glad they’re happy. However, you want to be the one in control of their food. If you are the only they eat from, you are the one in control, setting the rules. Also, if you're training your dog to be a guard dog, this training could save their life. It’s vital they can refuse food from a stranger, in case it has been poisoned. 

This sort of training will also earn you respect you can use in other ways. For example, stamping out bad habits could be far easier. You may also find teaching your dog any number of basic instructions will come easier too. 

Defining Tasks

Although dogs love food, it’s surprisingly easy to train your puppy to only eat from you. The trick is getting them into a consistent routine. Because you are teaching this rule at such a young age, they will never know any different and will just expect to only eat from you. Of course, this type of training will require consistency and willpower on your part. It also means you need to be around whenever your dog needs feeding, which will be frequently if they are still a puppy.

If your pup is relatively obedient and a fast learner, you could see results in just a week or so. But if your puppy has a mischievous streak, then you may need several weeks to fully cement the new rule. Get training right and you will have taken the first step towards a fully obedient dog, who respects your position as pack leader.

Getting Started

Before you can start training, you just need to check you’re prepared. You will need a decent supply of food and an easily accessible food bowl. The other main thing you will need is time. Make sure you are around as much as possible, to begin with. 

You will also need a clicker for one of the methods below. On top of that, some unpleasant food flavors to dogs, such as chili, will be needed. A deterrence collar and a friend will also be needed for one of the methods.

Apart from all that, just bring patience and a positive attitude, then work can begin!

The 'Leave It' Method

Effective
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Step
1
Temptation
Stand in front of your pup and hold a treat in your hand. Let them sniff around and take an interest, but do not let them actually get access to it. You can use any old treat or item of food for this stage.
Step
2
‘Leave it’
Give a ‘leave it’ instruction in a clear, but playful voice. Now you can wait for your puppy to finish licking and sniffing around your hand. Eventually they will give up and sit still, at which point you can act.
Step
3
Release
As soon they do give up, release them with a smile and then give them a reward. However, don’t give them the reward from your first hand. Instead give them an even better treat or their favorite food. This will teach them that if they leave it, they may get something even tastier. Now practice this for five minutes each day.
Step
4
Test
Now have someone throw some tasty food, such as meat or treats over the back fence. Make sure you are out there with the dog when they get thrown over. Now issue your ‘leave it’ command as soon as they show an interest in it.
Step
5
Reward
If they do leave it, pull out another tasty reward and give them that instead. Now simply practice this regularly. However use different food each time to test your puppy. Soon enough they will get into a habit of ignoring food unless it comes from you and the leave it command will no longer be needed.
Recommend training method?

The Bad Taster Method

Effective
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Step
1
Setting up
Take your puppy out into the yard. Then have a friend apply some spicy sauce or another bad taste to one of their normal treats or food items. You’re going to get your pup to associate food from strangers with unpleasant tastes.
Step
2
Test
Now have the friend throw over the food with added unpleasant flavor. Allow the dog to sniff around it and take an interest. Unfortunately, the only way for them to learn this is the hard way.
Step
3
‘NO’
Before they start chewing, issue a ‘NO’ command. Give it in a stern voice, but give it only once. Your puppy is probably going to ignore you the first few times, but that’s fine, they will quickly learn.
Step
4
Monitor
Now your puppy is probably going to start munching on the treat. Issue one more firm ‘NO’ when they start chewing. Then watch to make sure of two things. Firstly, that they don’t like it and spit it back out. Secondly, that they are fine and the chili hasn’t had an adverse effect.
Step
5
Consistent application
Now all you need to do is practice this regularly. So leave food out and have people throw tampered-with treats several times a week. They will soon start to associate any food not from you with unpleasant consequences and avoid them altogether.
Recommend training method?

The Deterrence Method

Effective
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Step
1
Preparation
Get your hands on a deterrence collar online or from a local store. These deterrence collars are an effective way to teach your puppy certain things. Simply hit the button and an unpleasant spray of citronella will be emitted.
Step
2
Bait
Now have a friend or someone toss a treat or food towards your puppy. Make sure they see it coming and can get access to it. Also make sure you’re not standing between them and the food.
Step
3
‘NO’
Look at your puppy and issue a firm ‘NO’ command. Try and hold eye contact so they know the instruction is definitely aimed at them. Don’t worry if they ignore you the first couple of times, the food will simply be too tempting.
Step
4
Hit the button
When your puppy ignores and goes to eat the food anyway, hit the button to release an unpleasant spray of citronella. This will quickly get them associating eating food from anyone but you with negative consequences.
Step
5
Variation
Now you simply need to test your pup frequently each week. Have different people toss them food and use different bait too, including meat and treats. Hit the button each time and he will soon give up going for food from anyone except you.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

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