If you have a dog who loves food, then eventually the dog will learn that food comes from the counter and sometimes it lives inside trash cans. Dogs quickly learn that jumping on the counter can be all that is needed to get closer to the food. It isn’t easy to live with a dog who will try to take food off of the counter every time you turn your back away from the food or with a dog who raids the trash can. It isn’t even fun to deal with if they only try to get food off of the counter when you leave the room. It can be dangerous if the dog is eating plastic wrappers and sandwich bags and every time the dog earns food for putting their feet on the counter tops or earns food from being persistent with how to get the food, the behavior gets stronger. Once they learn that food is on the counter tops, we can choose to avoid giving the dog the opportunity to discover food on the counters by constantly keeping a clean counter top or we can train the dog to cooperate for food and build opportunities for the dog to earn food rewards in a way that you appreciate.
Teaching dogs to have self-control with food is helpful in other areas too. We can teach our dogs to do something else instead of beg for food off of our dinner plate. We can even build the behavior so you can leave your dinner on the coffee table and go to the kitchen. Kids can hold food without the dog trying to take the food from the child. We can leave a container of treats on a table to reward good behavior without the dog spending hours trying to get the treats off the table or out of the container.
And what about things that your dog thinks are food but they aren’t actually food? Paper towels, socks, or chicken bones on the sidewalk? Teaching the dog self-control with food, to leave items on cue and to cooperate with you to earn the food really helps the dog understand what you want the dog to do instead of grabbing those items.
Another awesome side effect of teaching our dogs to cooperate with us for food distractions is that the dog learns to focus. They learn that in order to get the reward, they need to offer attention. Through our fun games, the dog learns that when they want something, the fastest way to get what they want is to offer attention to you. That is really helpful to prevent door dashing, improves leash walking, and it builds excellent focus with distractions around.
Right now, I’m teaching an online class on this topic. Every week, we play 4 games to build your dog’s self-control with food skills. There are demonstration videos, lectures and your fellow students practice the games and get feedback from me. The class is 6-weeks long and you can view the lectures and videos 24 hours a day at your convenience so you don’t even have to leave the house to improve your dog’s skills. Observation spots (bronze) in the class are $65.
Check out the sample lecture to get started teaching your dog to have self-control with food! Curious about how the lectures and forums work? Check out the sample class! Class enrollment closes on February 15th and class started on the 1st so don’t delay! Join us today!
How does your dog do with food on the counter tops or on the coffee table or on the sidewalk? Tell us in the comments!