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Dog stealing food - advice!

(7 Posts)
makingdoo Tue 05-May-15 23:02:38

I don t think stealing is the correct word but it's all I have for now!

We have a 4 year old St Bernard female that we adopted in December. She has settled really well with us. Maybe too well! When she first arrived she wouldn't even have looked at human food sitting out but in the last 2 months she's been into everything!

We can have anything sitting out on the counter as she will have it away as soon as our backs are turned.
I'm assuming we've inadvertently brought this upon ourselves but I would like some advice on how we can deal with it if possible. It's got to the point that you can't leave a dirty plate in the sink or she's up licking it!

This is my first ever pet so please be gentle!

tabulahrasa Wed 06-May-15 01:39:43

I've never successfully managed to stop a dog taking food if it's available and they think they can get away with it so my advice is more about management, but someone else might have better ideas.

Start on a leave command, that'll help with the times where you can see she's just about to do it...other than that, don't give her access.

Don't have her roaming the kitchen when you can't give her your full attention - my dog's only allowed in the half of the kitchen without worktops if I'm busy, if he keeps trying to get closer he goes back in the living room and I shut the door. (Because while not as big, he can reach food on the worktops without jumping up) Use a stairgate or some other sort of barrier if you need to.

Dogs are natural scavengers and it's self rewarding behaviour as well, so it's a hard one to just stop them doing... So I just go for not letting them practise it when I'm not watching and getting a solid leave when I am.

HirplesWithHaggis Wed 06-May-15 01:53:39

When I adopted a 3yo Border Collie (failed sheepdog, bred and raised to work, had always lived outside) the first thing she did on entering our home was steal my food. Understandable.

Friends told me about Jan Fennell and her method worked brilliantly. I'll let you google that yourself to see what you think, no cruelty or pain is involved, and I now have a Border Collie who reckons any food that falls on the floor is hers, anything even 6 inches off is not.

She still has shite recall, mind. <rolls eyes>

makingdoo Wed 06-May-15 11:06:19

Thanks for the advice and recommendations. We definitely need to manage it better and not leave anything lying about when we aren't there.

I think I'm in danger of spoiling her. Because she was not given any attention or much love in her previous home I am over compensating. Also I've awful guilt when. I've to leave her alone when I go to work 2-3 days per week so I tend to give her lots of treats etc.

Overall her behaviour is deteriorating. Her recall has gone downhill and I've just spent half the morning roaming the countryside looking for her after she escaped from the garden. She's very obedient in doors and generally just lies around sleeping all day but will always want to be in the same room as me.

I'm feeling like a failure.

KatharineClifton Wed 06-May-15 11:29:58

It's a typical rescue thing though, not you being a failure. They often arrive on best behaviour and their true nature shines through when they begin to settle. Go back to basics on training now. Only feed her in her food bowl, including treats.

basildonbond Wed 06-May-15 11:39:34

If you're on Facebook join the Dog Training Advice and Support group - all the admins are qualified behaviourists and if they can't help you online they can recommend someone local to you.

In the meantime, as tabulahrasa suggests, you need to manage the situation so she has fewer opportunities to go wrong

tabulahrasa Wed 06-May-15 11:43:00

Yeah they're usually on their best behaviour for a while, then start testing the waters.

I'd actually say the opposite of giving all food in a bowl...making them work for everything they get is more effective (if you can keep her away from finding other food)

Have a google of NILIF (nothing in life is free) - there's no need to take it to the extremes of doing it with affection or water as some people advocate, but the basic idea of you get the food when you behave well is sound.

And...don't confuse treats with affection, dogs don't get that concept at all.

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