Food Scavenging

Posted by f-kaloyanni
Jan 3, 2014
Hi, my name is Fano and I live in Greece.
As you may have heard, we have a lot of stray dogs in my country, and the economy crisis over the last years has only made things worse… Many people just open their doors or the backseat of their cars and let their dogs go. The last months I have been volunteering at a local shelter and in many cases I have boarded some dogs in my home, in order to train and rehabilitate them, and consequently make them adoptable. I closely followed the training method you suggest in your book with amazing results, although, to be true, at first I didn’t expect it to work that well! However, there is a problem in which I cannot find a solution. Namely, food scavenging. When I let the dog off leash, she falls in a food-seeking frenzy and ignores my commands. People here have the habbit to leave leftovers for the strays in parks and street-corners, something which is not completely bad, considering the number of poor, starving strays. But some of them leave poisonous baits in order to eliminate that number… My ‘trained’ ex-strays cannot resist the temptation and keep on seeking for food. The only solution I have found is to muzzle them, and that does not make them very desirable for adoption. They are quite happy and obedient with the muzzle on, in fact I trained them to see it as a positive sign of going for a walk, but I would prefer that it wasn’t necessary. How can I overcome this problem? Or should I forget the off-leash training alltogether?
Posted by Preethi KOP
Jan 4, 2014
Hi Fano,

Before I commence answering your query, I would like to congratulate you on your charity work. It is really sad that people are abandoning their pets but it warms my heart knowing that there are people out there who go that extra mile for those unfortunate four-legged furries. Do keep up the fabulous work!

Now coming to your problem; there are a few things you could try. The first would be to keep practicing the recall('Come here') an the word 'No'. It isn't going to work like magic but with time you should definitely see results. When you feed them make them sit and stay before you give them the 'Okay' command. Do this with treats at random times during the day too. Carry treats on your walks with them and perfect the command 'heel'. Give them lots of treats, head scratches and praise when they are obedient to the 'come'/'heel' commands.

Since you say that people put poisons out, if I were in your place I would just muzzle them when they were off leash to be on the safe side. When you do give them up I suggest that you educate their new owners on these training methods and tell them to continue training them for best results.

Sorry that I can't be of more help. I wouldn't want any dog owner to risk it with poisons around. I hope that the economy of your country picks up and that the situation changes soon. Thank you for your compliments on our ebooks and best wishes with all the dogs you attempt to rehabilitate.

Kind regards,