Having a dog is great fun, but it does come with some challenges. For instance, there is a lot of training involved if you want to have a healthy relationship and bond with your furry friend.
Whilst you probably already know the basic commands that you should teach your dog such as sit, stay, down, heel, etc. there are others that you should consider to keep your dog safe and healthy for longer.
More and more dog owners are beginning to realize the importance of teaching their dog not to take food from strangers.
Not only does this ensure that your dog does not pick things up for themselves when they should not, but it also makes sure that your dog is not given something potentially harmful or dangerous by a stranger.
Now, we’re not saying that your dog is going to be poisoned by random strangers in the park, but your dog could have specific dietary requirements, and a well-meaning stranger may offer them food or snacks that could be bad for their health and wellbeing.
To avoid any accidents, it is best to train your dog not to accept food from strangers, and to see you as the only meal or food provider in their lives.
Will Dogs Take Food From Strangers?
In some cases, some dogs will be wary of strangers and will not take well to them. For those dogs, they may have a natural instinct to not take anything such as food, treats or toys from a stranger as they may sense danger.
However, if you have a dog that is very food motivated, then they may happily accept food from a stranger that could pose a risk to them.
Trust us on this one, if you have a Labrador or another breed of dog that just loves food, then they will likely accept it time and time again from strangers without a second thought!
For the most part, dogs are natural scavengers, so the majority of breeds will try to take or find something to eat. As long as it is edible, they’re going to eat it, whether it comes from you, the ground or a stranger. So, you might want to train your dog not to do this.
Can You Train A Dog Not To Eat Food From Strangers?
The good news is that yes, you can train a dog not to take anything whether it is food or other items from a stranger.
You can use simple commands and training methods to teach your dog to refuse food from people that you do not know, or to ignore food from strangers unless you release them and give them the go-ahead.
This can be done easily by training your dog the ‘leave it’ command. To do this, you ‘ll need to let your dog sniff tempting foods, but tell them to leave it.
When your dog ignores it, and focuses on you instead, praise your dog and offer a lot of positive reinforcement in the way of affection and treats to teach them that they are behaving properly.
How To Train A Dog Not To Take Food From Strangers
To train your dog not to take food from strangers, you will need a few supplies. The main bulk of these will be lots of tasty treats and rewards. It is also best to get a variety of doggie treats, and human treats to tempt your dog.
For instance, a little bit of cheese, chicken or sliced up hot dogs would be perfect for the purpose of training.
If you want to train your dog to only eat from its bowl, then you will have to find one that is bold, stands out, but can be replaced easily if it gets broken. As you’ll have to stick with this one!
You may also want to get a friend or person that your dog is not familiar with to test out how the training is going along the way.
To teach your dog to refuse food from strangers, you will need to teach them the leave it command. To do this, you’ll need to hold a treat in one hand, and let your dog sniff it and see it. Then, say leave it, and close your hand.
Your dog may sit, bark or try to nuzzle at the treat to get it out of your hand, but you have to remain strong, and patient, and wait for your dog to look you in the eye and focus on you rather than the hand.
Once your dog looks at you and focuses on you, praise them and reward them by giving a treat from the other hand, not the one with the ‘hidden’ treat.
Repeat this process, and ensure that you always say ‘leave it’ and wait for the dog to look up at you and ignore the hand with the treat. When they do this successfully, always reward with a different treat, and give praise and affection, too.
If your dog seems to have mastered this, you can try doing it by placing some treats on the floor and say leave it. If your dog goes straight for the treats then go back to the beginning and hold the treats and cover them in your hand again.
If you drop treats on the floor, and say leave it, and they obey, then you can try using your stranger to move onto the next step. Only move onto the next step if you are confident that your dog knows to leave it.
Finally, get a stranger or person that your dog has not met to walk by you or past your garden while you are there too, and have them throw in a tasty and tempting treat such as chicken or cheese.
Then, when your dog goes to inspect the treat, say leave it, and repeat until your dog fully comprehends.
If your dog successfully leaves it every time, then try it again, but this time, watch from inside of your house, with your dog in the garden. When they go to inspect the food, shout leave it so that your dog knows that you are always watching them and that they always have to leave it.
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We do recommend that you do not attempt to train your dog this command until it is a little bit older. If you have a puppy, then you should be focusing on teaching your dog to sit, come to you, heel and all the basic commands before you move onto this one.
This command is better suited for when your pup is more of an adolescent!
You should also train your dog at first in a location where there will be few distractions such as in your own home or back yard. This will ensure that your dog can focus on you, what you’re teaching them, and nothing else.
We also advise that you have some patience when teaching your dog this command. It will take a little bit of time and practice, and you’ll have to have lots of treats to keep them occupied and focused.
Don’t worry too much if your dog struggles to grasp the concept at first, you’ll get there with time, dedication and frequent training!