I was at a Home Dog Training client in Johns Creek following up on some dog training issues regarding his Great Dane’s running out the front door. After about thirty minutes we had pretty much resolved that problem. We then switched to an entirely different type of issue. It seemed that his dog loves to raid the pantry whenever he isn’t home. He even closes the door, but his dog has figured out how to open the door handle and get the goodies inside. He wondered what he could do…
I began to explain to him that we need to understand the canine perception of food ownership and how that relates to the ability to access the pantry. From the canine perspective, there is no long term ownership of food, even for the pack alpha leader. While you are actively engaged in eating the food (or kill), that is your property and you own it. As soon as you leave the food and walk away, you are implying that you are done and you have given up any ownership or will to consume it. You are allowing anyone to have it, if they so desire.
My client goes to the store, buys food, drives home, and puts it in his pantry. After that, he walks away to do other things. From his dog’s perspective, he just said, “Hey look at the food I got. I don’t want it anymore. If you would like to have it, go ahead!”
Besides this, he also left his dog with the ability to access the food. Even though the door was closed, his dog could easily open the door. Because of this, his dog sees no problem in going into the pantry, picking out that nice bag of corn chips, taking it to his dog bed, and having a party. This is a natural instinct and is very difficult, if not impossible, to correct without a great deal of time and training.
Don’t worry! I like to keep things simple and to the point. Here is what you should do. I told my client that as the head of the house, or the Alpha Leader, he had the right and ability to modify the territory as he saw fit in order to maintain his rules for his dog. As a pack member, his dog will understand and submit to his wishes. As long as the change is absolute and simple, there will be no problem.
All my client had to do was to go down to the hardware store, buy a simple latch, and use the latch to secure the pantry door. He has to make sure that the latch is placed high enough to assure that his dog can’t unlatch it. All he has done is to set the environment to tell his dog that he can’t get in the pantry. The pantry is now off limits. The latch allows him to execute and maintain this rule on a consistent and repetitive basis while he is not in the area. This is the exact way that dogs learn and his dog will quickly understand that the pantry is no longer a place he is allowed to search for food.
Remember, as the pack leader you can use corrections, redirections, and modifications to your territory to gain the results you require and maintain your pack rules.
Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help and more detail regarding dogs getting into “unwanted places”. We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over fourteen years. We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.