Top 3 Tips To Stop A Dog Stealing Food

 


When you consider dogs started out as scavengers, it’s not surprising some dogs find it hard to resist sneaking a nibble from an unoccupied dinner plate or raiding a tray of appetizers left out for guests. So it’s only natural then that people would see a dog stealing food.

However, it is annoying, and it can also be hazardous to your dog’s health if they steal food that is poisonous to dogs. Fortunately, there are ways to teach your dog to keep their paws — and tongue — off the table. Let’s take a look.

Here are our top 3 tips to stop a dog stealing food.

1. Don’t Let Your Dog Learn a Bad Habit

From the first time your dog successfully steals food from the table, they probably won’t hesitate to try it again. To prevent easy access to food, put away all leftovers, keep breads and baked goods in bins and jars, and keep foods that need to be left on the table or countertop in Tupperware containers.

In addition, don’t feed your dog scraps from the table while you’re at the table. If you do, your dog may learn that it’s okay to take food from the table. If you wish to reward your dog with a bite of dog-friendly human food, take it to their bowl instead.

RELATED STORY: Your Dog Food Questions Answered

2. Teach the “No” and “Off” Commands

The “no” command will come in handy if you catch your dog in the act of stealing. However, you shouldn’t use the “no” command or otherwise punish your dog if they’ve already eaten the stolen food; they won’t understand why you’re upset.

The “off” command is another useful command you can use if you have a small dog who jumps on tables or a large dog who counter surfs with their paws. Just remember never to “shoo” or push your dog off a table; they could get scared, fall, or injure themselves.

Pick your dog up and put them down or let them jump off if it’s safe to do so.

3. Teach Your Dog to “Lie Down” When Food is Around

When you want to teach your dog to stop stealing or begging, the “lie down” command can be a real lifesaver. When food comes out, give your dog the command, wait for them to lie down, and then offer a treat. Keep offering treats every 15-20 seconds or so, even as you eat.

After some practice, start spacing out the time between treats. In a matter of weeks your dog should learn that they are more likely to get a snack if they lie down nicely than if they poke their nose around and beg.

You can also integrate your dog’s bed or favorite blanket into this training. Ask them to lie down on their bed instead of the kitchen floor, then offer a treat.

Your dog will learn that being on their bed earns them a jackpot, and over time you should be able to move their bed to an out-of-the-way location while you’re eating dinner or entertaining. Just be sure to keep rewarding your dog for their good behavior.

RELATED STORY: How to Calm Down a Dog

A Note About Deterrents

Some trainers recommend using deterrents such as tin can pyramids, booby traps, and cookie sheets that will make loud noises or scare your dog off when they attempt to steal food.

However, these methods can sometimes do more harm than good as they may set your dog up to become anxious in the kitchen or afraid of everyday items like cans.

If you find that your dog is stubborn and doesn’t respond to the other methods suggested above, talk to a trainer and see if deterrent training is a good technique for your particular dog.

Does your dog steal food? Leave us a comment and let us know, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more.

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How To Stop Your Dog From Barking: 5 Tips And Tricks

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Barking is a natural means of dog communication. Why and how much a dog barks, however, can depend on a number of factors.

Genetics is one of them. Some dog breeds just bark more than others. Hunting dogs, for example, were bred to bark as a way to signal a target.

Common Reasons Dogs Bark

Another reason dogs bark is to communicate physical and emotional needs. If a dog is hot, cold, thirsty, hungry, sick, or otherwise uncomfortable, they might bark as a way to say, “Hey, how about a little help over here?” In addition, if a dog is bored, anxious, excited, or understimulated, they might bark in order to request attention, or they may develop a barking habit as a way to release energy and frustrations.

And of course, a dog may bark if they are scared, threatened, or trying to warn you of danger, like if an intruder were to come onto your property or if another dog were to threaten them.

Many times, barking is conditional, meaning that it is in response to a situation and stops when the situation changes. Other times, barking can be excessive and become a real problem.

Here are some tips on how to stop your dog from barking. If you need additional help, don’t hesitate to contact a trainer or animal behaviorist.

Tip #1: Cultivate a lifestyle that will minimize barking.

The best way to stop barking is to prevent it. Create a lifestyle and environment for your dog that will reduce their likelihood of becoming anxious, bored, scared, or otherwise needy.

  • Make sure that your dog is getting enough exercise. Dogs who are understimulated or have excess energy are more likely to develop a barking habit.
  • Offer your dog a safe and comfortable place to rest. Leaving your dog in a cramped crate or a cold backyard may induce anxiety and barking.
  • Ensure that your dog has access to fresh water at all times, including when you are out of the house. You should also ensure that you are feeding your dog the correct amount of food; check with your veterinarian.
  • Socialize your dog. A well-socialized dog who is comfortable around people, other animals, and new environments is less likely to feel anxious, threatened, overexcited, or respond to stimulus with a bark.
  • If you need to be out of the house for long hours, leave stimulating toys, turn the radio on, and consider buying some dog-friendly DVDs. You may also want to hire a dog walker or sitter to offer your pup a break from the isolation, which can promote barking.
  • If your dog barks only when you leave the house, teach them that it’s no big deal. You can do this by practicing coming and going for short periods of time and gradually increasing the time that you are gone. You should also avoid making a big deal about coming and going; don’t offer long, emotional goodbyes or hellos. If you do, your dog will assign a great deal of significance to your absence and presence, which can promote separation anxiety when your dog is left alone.

RELATED STORY: OCD In Dogs

Tip #2: Don’t yell at or punish your dog for barking.

A lot of barking is attention-seeking behavior, and if you yell at your dog (or acknowledge them at all, really) it shows them that hey, it worked! And hey, maybe I should do that more often! When your dog barks, try to ignore it. Avert your eyes, walk out of the room — whatever it takes. Then give your dog attention and praise when they stop barking on their own. You should also be careful about using the crate as a way to punish barking; the crate should be a safe and happy place for your dog, not one that they associate with punishment.

Tip #3: Teach the “quiet” command.

To teach your dog “quiet,” approach them when they are calm and not barking, say “quiet,” and then offer a treat. Repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times a day. Then, when your dog is barking, wait for them to stop, say “quiet,” and then offer a treat. Repeat this whenever your dog barks. After a couple of weeks, you can begin using the “quiet” command to instruct your dog to stop barking. Be patient, though, and put in that early work. If you try to stop barking with the “quiet” command too soon, your dog is likely to get confused and think that you are actually rewarding them for making a ruckus.

RELATED STORY: Products To Improve Your Dog Training

Tip #4: Teach the “speak” command.

Once your dog knows the “quiet” command, you can teach the “speak” command. That’s right; we’re suggesting that you teach your excessively barking dog to bark. Sound crazy? What it actually does is teach your dog when barking is appropriate (which is when the command is given by you). It also gives you another way to reinforce the “quiet” command.

To teach “speak,” wait until your dog is barking, say “speak,” and then give them a treat. Repeat this as often as necessary until your pal learns the command.

Tip #5: Talk to your veterinarian about alternative methods.

If your dog is barking due to severe anxiety, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-anxiety medications. You can also ask your veterinarian about herbal anti-anxiety food drops and citronella collars which release an unpleasant odor when your dog barks.

Do you have a dog who barks excessively? Tell us your story below, and consider signing up for PetPlus, a benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, boarding and more.

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6 Tips for a Stress-Free Vet Visit

It’s the rare pet who actually enjoys a trip to the vet. In fact, such an animal is probably rarer than a unicorn. However, there are ways to make trips to the vet slightly more pleasant for everyone, although it will take a little more work and foresight to pave the way for a smooth vet visit.

1. Touch your pet like a vet would.

One of the reasons vet visits are so startling to pets is that the vet touches them in ways and places they aren’t accustomed to. You can help your pet feel comfortable with these unusual methods of touching by playing doctor and rehearsing a veterinary exam.

Your vet will examine your pet from head to tail, and may palpate – or gently press down using the hands – different areas of your pet’s body, like the neck and the belly. Lift up your pet’s tail, and run your hands all over your pet, including the feet and nails.

RELATED STORY: The Ever-Important Dog Physical Exam

2. Don’t get nervous.

Be aware of you own energy, because your pet can feed off your anxiety. If you realize you feel nervous on the day of the vet visit, be sure to take some deep, cleansing breaths to lower your heart rate. Stick to your regular routine, including walks, which will help to burn off that nervous energy.

3. Use a calming collar.

If your pet seems to really panic at the idea of a trip to the vet, then consider purchasing a calming collar for your cat or your dog. The soothing scents of chamomile and lavender may help to comfort and relax your pet.

RELATED STORY: How To Know If Your Dog Has Anxiety

4. Don’t use a carrier only for vet visits.

If your pet only sees the inside of the carrier when it’s time for the vet, then that little box is going to represent a cage of panic and grief for your animal. If you use a carrier at home as a safe place for your pet to snuggle and nap, then it won’t seem like such a big, stressful deal to hop in the carrier for transportation to the vet.

5. Practice car rides for other fun reasons.

Likewise, if your pet only rides in the car on the way to the vet, it’s going to be a very long car ride for both of you. Try taking your pet on other excursions in the car, for example, to drive your dog to a meadow for a hike.

RELATED STORY: 5 Steps To A Safe Drive With Your Dog

6. Use treats strategically.

If your cat enjoys catnip, then plan on using it strategically, because the effect only lasts about 5 to 15 minutes. Figure out the worst part of the vet visit for you; is it coaxing your cat into the carrier, or the part where you open the carrier for the vet? Use your kitty treats or catnip with those circumstances in mind to keep the effectiveness high.

Likewise, if you know you have a visit to the vet approaching, get a little stingy with your treats for your dog until it’s ‘go time’ for maximum effect. A dog with a belly that’s already loaded with treats isn’t going to be too interested in your bribery.

How do you keep your pet calm for a vet visit? Let us know by leaving a comment below! Sign up for PetPlus and save up to 75% on your pet’s medications plus discounts on boarding, supplies, and more. 

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3 Brilliant Box Hacks For Cats

Next time you receive a gift or get a package in the mail, don’t kick the box to the curb! Instead, turn it into a fort, puzzle feeder, or scratcher for your favorite feline. These hacks are so simple and satisfying that the whole family will want to join in. So come along! It’s time to think inside the box.

Box Hack #1: Cat Fort

Cats love to explore, climb, and hide, which explains why there is a such huge market for cat forts and cat condos. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to give your cat the playhouse of their dreams; all you really need is some boxes and a box cutter or X-Acto knife.

When it comes to designing a fort, the possibilities are endless. You can cut holes for your cat (or cats) to squeeze through, create small square windows for peeking, or fashion arched doorways for a fort that’s fit for royalty. Stack boxes, line them up side by side (secret tunnel, anyone?), or spread them out around the house.

If you really want to get creative, you can get out the art supplies and paint the fort to look like a little house, a castle, a hotel, or whatever you dream up.


Box Hack #2: Cat Puzzle Feeder

What if you could feed your cat, provide them mental stimulation, and satisfy their hunting instincts all at once? Puzzle feeders — games that require your cat to problem solve in order to get their food — do just that. There are plenty of cat puzzle feeders for sale at pet stores, but you can easily make your own at home.

What will you need? A small cardboard box and a box cutter or X-Acto knife should do the trick.

Instructions:

1. Seal up the box if it is open. If it is a box with a lid, tape or glue the lid so that it will not separate from the box.

2. Cut holes into the top of the box. The holes should be big enough that your cat can reach their paws through and fish out the food.

3. Give it a test drive. Put the box on the ground and let your kitty have at it. If they are having trouble reaching the food, make the holes a bit larger. You can also cut off the bottoms of plastic water bottles (make sure they are sanitized!) and stick them into the holes, then fill those with food. This will give your cat easier access, but will be less challenging.

You can also use the puzzle feeder for games that don’t involve food. Stick your cat’s favorite toys into the holes — a mini mouse, a bell, a fuzzy ball — and watch them go wild.

RELATED STORY: How To Play With A Cat

Box Hack #3: Cat Scratcher

Cats love to scratch, and sometimes, our furniture or pocketbooks suffer for it. Fortunately, making a cat scratcher at home is ridiculously easy. All you’ll need is some corrugated cardboard boxes, a ruler, a box cutter/X-acto knife, glue, and masking tape.


Instructions:

1. Cut strips of cardboard that are all the same width. You can make the scratcher as wide or narrow as you want. For a wider scratcher, you’ll need more strips.

2. Once you have all of your strips cut, you can make either a round or square scratcher. To make a round scratcher, simply wrap the strips around each other with a line of glue between each layer. Once you have all of the strips wrapped, seal the whole thing off with masking tape (you can even get a decorative kind with a fun pattern).

To make a square or rectangular scratcher, run a line of glue along the center of each strip, stack them all together, and then apply pressure for several minutes until they are packed tightly. Then, seal off the edges with masking tape, or place the scratcher into a box where it will fit snugly (like a shoe box).

Your cat will probably be waiting in the wings to get access to their new scratcher, but if they need a little encouragement, sprinkle some catnip on top.

RELATED STORY: Treat Your Cat To A Catnip Surprise

Making DIY projects at home is just one savvy way to save on your cat’s supplies. If you want to save even more, consider signing up for PetPlus. PetPlus offers discounts of up to 75% on pet medications, and ordering is so easy! Have any other money-saving tips for pets? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Simple Tips to Make The Most Out of Your Pets Mealtime

When your pets mealtime rolls around, many pet parents follow a similar routine: scoop out the food, put the food in a bowl, place the bowl on the floor, and let Fido or Boots have at it. The entire process is usually over in a matter of minutes.

But what if feeding time was more than just a meal? Lots of pet parents use their pet’s dinner hour as an opportunity to teach or reinforce commands. Others use stuffed puzzle toys to slow down speed eaters, provide mental stimulation, zap energy, and satiate their pet’s prey drive.

So how can you make the most of your pet’s mealtime? Read on to learn some tips.

Tip #1: Turn Mealtime Into Training Time

Pets MealTime

Many pet parents think that training should only happen at a designated time, and that the only appropriate reward for a job well done is a special treat. In reality, training can happen anywhere at any time, and a hungry pet will usually respond just as well to their normal food as they will to a delicacy.

You can feed your pet their entire meal by hand while teaching or reinforcing commands like sit, stay, lie down, and heel. When your pet performs, offer them a few pieces of kibble. For safety commands that you really want to reinforce (like come and “watch me”), offer a larger handful (this is sometimes referred to as a “jackpot”).

Training your pet with their food not only reinforces important commands and stretches out feeding time (which can help with digestion), it also provides your pet with daily mental stimulation, which can improve their behavior.

RELATED STORY: Teaching Your Dog Basic Commands

Tip #2: Stuff Puzzle Toys With Your Pet’s Portion

Puzzle toys come in all shapes and sizes. Some are complex games and others look like regular toys, but have small openings where treats or food can be stuffed. You can also make your own puzzle toy at home; for example, a tennis ball with a flap cut into it.

Puzzle toys make your pet problem solve in order to reach a treat or food. Some puzzle games require a pet to move game pieces around to release a morsel. Other puzzle toys simply need to be dropped, nudged, or swatted to shake a piece of food free.

Feeding your pet their food using puzzle toys not only slows down eating and extends meal time (some pets are occupied for 20 minutes or more!), it also provides mental stimulation, a bit of exercise, and will satisfy a pet’s desire to “hunt” for their food.

If your have a large dog or large cat who eats large portions, you can buy or make several puzzle toys and divide the portion between them.

Leave a comment and let us know how you make the most of your pet’s mealtime! 

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