Steals Food

Posted by miluna
Apr 16, 2011
Our 4 year old Smooth Fox Terrier has always been VERY motivated by food ever since we adopted her a little over a year ago. We put her on a down stay during meals and for the most part that works well. Lately though she seems especially food driven and has stolen food from our children's hands. Any new tips for this? Our response has been to sort of growl at her and get real low at her level but she just keeps doing it.

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Apr 17, 2011
Hi Caroline,

You need to catch her in action of steeling food in order to reprimand. When you actually see her doing it, a sharp "Hey!" or "No!" to get her attention and remove her to a time-out.

I would go further to make situations she would steel foods from your children in front of your eyes. I don't know how old your children are but if they are the ages that they understand what you ask them to do, I would have them do the following:

Have them sit on the floor with some kind of food in their hand. When your dog approach them and tries to sniff the food, tell her "Leave it" and when she looks at you, praise her and give her a treat. Make sure your children are just holding food, not offering it to the dog (otherwise it won't be fair for the dog).

I hope you are not feeding your dog some human foods. If you do, it will be difficult for your dog that she should not take your children's food but I think she can learn that she can eat only foods that are offered to her if you are patient and consistant.

Hope this will help
Posted by KOPCaroline
Apr 22, 2011
Hey Caroline,

I think MHN's advice is great. You really do need to catch your dog in the act, otherwise she won't fully understand what she's being punished/reprimanded for. Anytime your kids have food, have them stay close by so you can keep an eye on the situation. The time out method MHN spoke up is a great one, dogs catch on quickly that bad behaviour = being put out, and they don't like that usually. I'd think your dog will learn quickly.

It is important in these situations to stop (if you are) giving your dog any people food. Even as treats. Try doggie biscuits or dog roll chunks instead, but she should get the picture that human food is not for her, in any situation!

Let us know how you get on, hopefully you see improvement soon!
Posted by kjd
Apr 23, 2011
Hi, Miluna!

Your problem reminds me of something cute that happened with my first dog, a Ger!man Shepherd. A visiting toddler had just been given a cookie. Balancing, as toddlers do, his hand with the cookie was outstretched. The dog assumed it was being offered to her and politely took it. The child bawled! Poor dog didn't know what she'd done wrong but she did know she'd harmed this child. From then on, she was scared of toddlers.

One day, the front doorbell rang. These two huge guys filled the doorway. The dog barked at them, warning them to stay away. Then, out from around one leg came a tiny girl, who barely cleared the top of the boot she was beside. Brave dog ran and hid! She wasn't about to upset another child.