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How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Food off the Table

There is nothing more frustrating than setting a plate of food down, forgetting to cover it, and coming back to find that your dog has helped himself to a late afternoon snack.

Not only are you out of a sandwich, but your dog is getting foods that are not good for his digestive track.

As owners, this seems like an easy problem to fix. Dogs shouldn't attempt to steal from us, right? We're in charge. They're dogs. And this is our house. But, in truth, when it comes to food, many dogs glaze over and turn into mindless zombies.

For this reason, it is our job as owners to teach them the fundamental boundaries (and consequences) when it comes to food on counters and tables.

Setting the Boundaries & How to Boundary Train Your Dog

The absolute first thing you should do is stop feeding your dog table scraps. If you tell your dog not to take the food from the counter but you frequently offer it to him, he will only grow confused by the mixed signals.

However, by showing him that it is your food and he is never permitted to have it, you can set a boundary that is less likely to be confused. Next up, you should set boundaries on the actual room. Too many people give their dogs free roam of the house.

In reality, your dog probably has no reason to be in the kitchen at all. It's small, it's crowded and it can be dangerous when you're cooking or cleaning. I generally recommend not allowing a dog anywhere near the kitchen and this can be easily cured by dog boundary training.

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The Counters and Tables

With that done, you now need to teach your dog that he won't gain anything by getting up onto that counter. Like all behaviours, you must show him the consequences of doing it. This does not mean you should punish him - that rarely works. Rather, we're going to show him something unpleasant.

To start with, try to keep your food out of reach as much as possible. Even if the training works like a charm, there is no reason to tempt fate and torture your dog any more than necessary. Second, we need to make the act of jumping to the table or counter scary to the dog.

This can be done by putting something unpleasant there for him to knock down. Empty soda cans or bottles filled with a couple pennies and small rocks are incredibly loud and will scare him immediately.

This might take a few days or weeks to sink in for the dog, but in most cases, he will figure out very quickly that when he jumps up to snatch a meal, he is going to be greeted with a loud, unpleasant sound.

Maintaining Authority

Your dog respects you as long as you maintain the alpha leadership position. For many people, the issue of counter jumping is never a problem because the dog respects the authority they hold. However, you need to maintain that authority.

Don't give in and hand him a few scraps or ask him to clean up a mess on the table or the kitchen floor. Once you set these boundaries they need to be maintained from now on.

By making exceptions, you only confuse your dog and create situations that will almost certainly lead to missing sandwiches and angry members of your household. And if all else fails, you can always simply block your dog from getting into rooms where there is food to be snatched.

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