How to Stop Your Dog From Stealing Food Off The Table

Surely, when it comes to bad dog behavior, there isn’t much more frustrating than placing a delicious plate of food on the table, forgetting to place a cover on it, and returning to discover your dog has enjoyed your dinner.  Not only is your food gone, but your dog is eating food that probably isn’t good for him.

As an owner, this should be an easy problem to fix, right?  Your dog shouldn’t be stealing food from you, or so you think.  You’re the one in charge.  Your dog is the dog.  This is your house.  But, in actuality, where food is concerned, lots of dogs get a glazed look in their eyes and turn into food monsters.  Owner?  What owner?

That’s why it’s your job, as the owner, to train your dog about the basic boundaries regarding food, and the consequences, when it comes to tables and counters.

Setting Boundaries

The very first thing you have to do is stop giving your dog any tablescraps.  If you command your dog not to get any food from the counter but you turn around and offer him the same food later, you will only confuse your dog.

On the other hand, if you show your dog that the food is yours and he is never allowed to have it, you are setting a boundary that your dog can understand.

Tables and Counters

With that out of the way, you can teach your dog that he won’t get anything by trying to reach the counter.  As with other behaviors, you need to teach him that there are consequences if he does it.  That doesn’t mean you should punish your dog.  That usually doesn’t work.  Instead, you will show your dog that something unpleasant happens.

To begin, try to keep food away from your dog and out of his reach as much as you can.  Even if the training is going well, don’t tempt your dog or put food in his way.  Secondly, you need to make the behavior of jumping up toward the table or counter scary and unpleasant for your dog.

You can do this by placing something on the table or counter that your dog will knock down when he jumps up.  You can use bottles or empty soda cans filled with a few pennies or rocks.  These items are very loud when they rattle and they should scare your dog away.

It might take a few days or more for your dog to learn, but most dogs usually learn quickly that when he jumps up to grab something to eat, he will encounter something noisy, loud, and unpleasant instead.

Maintaining Your Authority

Your dog will continue to respect you as long as you keep your position as the alpha leader in your home.  For some people counter jumping is never an issue because the dog has respect for them and their authority.  But you need to keep that authority.

Don’t weaken and give your dog table scraps or ask him to clean up some food at the table or on the kitchen floor.  Once you have set your boundaries you need to keep them.

If you begin making exceptions you will just confuse your dog and that will lead to situations that will result in missing food and household members who will be angry.  If you have to, you can resort to blocking your dog from going into rooms where there is food that he could grab.

Whatever the situation in your home, you should keep in mind that it’s a bad idea to let your dog have access to your tables and counters and it can result in some hungry humans and maybe a very sick dog.

Please share your thoughts.  Does your dog get on tables and counters?  How were you able to stop it?  Don’t be shy, please leave a comment below.  We can’t wait to read your response!

Until next time……

About the Author: Wayne Booth is owner of Canine Behavior Specialists in Nashville, TN.  Wayne has been teaching people how to become Professional Dog Trainers since 1990 and he is the Training Director of Canine Behavior Specialists Network, www.K9-University.com

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Comments

  1. Wayne Booth says

    Hi Marsha, thanks for the question.

    The #1 thing that will keep your dog off the tables and counters is training. Training establishes you as the master and the dog learns to respect your leadership in the pack.

    The items that you can put on a counter make noises for most dogs but even a deaf dog will usually react to something falling in front of it.

    Of course there are also” Scat Mats”. It is simply a plastic mat that is charged by a simple 9 volt battery. When your dog puts his paws on the mat he gets a mild stimulation that is similar to static electricity. This will work easily for your dog.

    Simply do a Google search for Scat Mats.

    Good Luck

    Wayne

  2. Gayle says

    My problem is stealing. My DEAF boxer steals anything & everything from garbage from the kitchen can to xbox controllers, socks, belts and ofI course his toys only to bring it in the back yard. He doesn’t xhew anything up but I’m about at my wits end. I’ve tried extra play timeto (thinking it would wear him out), time out (having him sit in front rhe garbage can for 30you minutes), busting butt, crating. I just do not know what else to do. Please help!

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