We were in Snellville earlier today at an initial Home Dog Training Session.  It was lunch time and a family member who was not part of the training sat down to have some lunch.  They had a second dog that they said “was perfect” and was not part of the training session either.  Well, the perfect dog went over and tried to steal lunch from the table.  I decided to stop the one training session just for a moment and to “give them some free advice” about dogs and stealing food at the table…

I explained that dogs don’t necessarily place an implicit ownership on food.   If they see food left alone, it is just like their finding a dead animal in the wild.  They see no problem with eating it, if they want.  If we leave food unattended, we need to understand that our dog might eat it before we return.

We must also understand that it is not acceptable for our dog to steal from the table while we are there.  If we are providing our dog leadership while establishing trust, building a bond, and delivering companionship; our dog will see us as the leader of the pack and his provider.  From our dog’s perspective, it is not acceptable to take food from the leader until allowed.

If we are at the table and our dog tries to take our food, he is breaking that natural rule and we must, as his leader, tell him that he is doing the wrong thing.  In order to do this, we must set the scene to allow him to make the conscious decision to do the right thing and leave the food.  Here is an exercise that I teach my clients to accomplish this:

  • Set up a perimeter around the table where you don’t want your dog to cross when you are eating.
  • Make sure you have distractions for your dog set up outside that perimeter.
  • Have your dog on a leash.
  • Make up some plates with food that will entice your dog and place them on the table.
  • Play like you are eating the food.  Make “yummy” sounds.
  • If your dog starts to come close to the boundary, stand up, face your dog, and say “No” in a very firm, low manner.  If you need to, pick up the leash and guide him away.
  • As soon as your dog moves away and focuses on anything else, say “Good Boy!” in a happy, high voice.
  • Sit back down.
  • Repeat the process until your dog looses interest and does not approach you.
  • Perform this exercise every day until he no longer approaches the table when you are eating.

Practicing this exercise will make a world of difference at dinner time and vastly improve the quality of life for everybody.

Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help.  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.