Battersea Q&A: How can I stop my thieving dog?
(Q) I love to take my Labradoodle, Honey, to the park. But recently I've had to time my walks to avoid picnickers as she steals their food. How can I stop my thieving dog?
(A) Battersea canine welfare trainer Nathalie Ingham says: Speaking from experience it is extremely embarrassing when your pet gatecrashes someone else's picnic. Keep your dog on a long line to avoid any further embarrassment while you get going with your training. If you're planning on competing with picnic hampers, you'll need some equally tasty treats. Hit the park before the crowds arrive and practise your recall so Honey thinks you're the best thing around.
As the crowds arrive, carry on practising your recall, gradually getting closer to the picnics, but never letting Honey raid them. She'll realise that she is more successful at getting yummy things from you than she is from them.
When dealing with behaviour problems it's important to remember that you need to:
- Make sure your dog can't practise the problem behaviour - this often involves preventing him from being in the situation where he normally exhibits the behaviour.
- Understand why he is doing what he's doing so that you can change his motivation and use it to direct him elsewhere.
- Teach him an appropriate alternative behaviour instead.
When possible, remember to use your dog's daily food allowance or play sessions as rewards for training. If you need to use lots more interesting treats you will probably need to think about cutting down some of his food to compensate; you don't want your dog to become overweight.