Most dogs can’t resist the lure of something yummy left on the kitchen counter. If given the opportunity to nab it, you bet it’s a robbery about to happen. Obviously, if you know your dog is prone to thievery, you clear the countertops of every bread crumb before you exit the kitchen.
Yet if you live in a household with family members who aren’t as diligent as you are, it may be harder to control. This includes feeding scraps from the table, which encourages this behavior. It is especially important to avoid toxic food items that are harmful to a dog’s health (chocolate, grapes, onions, nuts, etc). For a complete list of people foods that are toxic to pets visit: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets
I will never forget the antics of a favorite house guest “Zoey”. I knew in advance that Zoey had sneaky skills. A beautiful English Mastiff with the height to easily reach countertops coupled with a keen interest to explore pantry doors or cupboards. She would wait until no one was looking then help herself to food items of desire.
Her Mom dropped her off for cage-free dog boarding after she consumed an entire Easter basket of chocolates- wrappers and all! For several days, her outdoor “deposits” included a rainbow of foil. Given her girth, she digested her spoils without issue. A smaller dog, however, would have been rushed to the vet.
To curb this “Zoey-like” habit, a little ingenuity is required. A quick and easy solution is to install a baby gate at the kitchen entrance every time you are cooking or serving family meals. A simple spring-loaded gate should be sufficient and will avoid drilling holes in your walls.
If you have the time for a little training, leave something tempting on the countertop, slightly out of nose reach, and hide around the corner. Using either a spy cam device or hand-held mirror, wait and watch for your dog to investigate, then rush in quickly with the command “leave it!” or “ah ah ah” to interrupt this behavior. If practiced over time, they will eventually get the point and “leave it” alone.
You can also try to redirect the dog’s behavior. Give them a food-stuffed toy or chew bone in another room of the home to keep them busy while you’re cooking in the kitchen. Chew bones are best served when there is only one dog in the other room. With multiple dogs, chew bones can incite a fight, so it is best to avoid food aggression. This includes keeping them separated during mealtimes.
These are standard practices we employ in our homes (or in yours) when providing pampered pet care for our valued clients (on 2 & 4 legs)!
As always, be safe and happy with your furry children!
Tori and Nannies
photo credit: dfordog.co.uk