Dogs are absolutely irresistible and it is hard to look into their big hungry eyes and not offer a bite of food. However, you should never offer food to someone else’s canine, as you have no idea about the animal’s health condition, the possibility of allergies and other important issues. Aside from the health concerns surrounding this behavior, you may also be allowing your dog to learn a particularly bad habit.
As the owner of a canine companion, you should never allow strangers to offer food to your dog. For this very reason, you should train your dog not to accept food from other people, especially strangers. You may offend someone while in the park or going for a walk with your dog, but that is better than risking his health or teaching him bad behaviors.
While there are some people who might think you are mean to not allow your dog to eat the food being offered by strangers, this can actually be quite problematic for your canine. Accepting a treat offered by strangers without your permission can lead to a lot of bad behaviors and an infinite number of problems. Believe or not, it is necessary to train your dog not to accept food from strangers without your permission.
Why shouldn’t my dog accept the food offered by strangers?
While it is true that you cannot always prevent your dog from eating something he finds on the ground, you should have a good chance to stop him from eating food or treats provided by strangers. While they probably mean well (after all, your dog is adorable!), your dog’s health and etiquette could be at stake.
You might think that one time will not hurt, but whether it is one time or twenty doesn’t really matter. Your dog is smart and he will remember, even if it is only once. Do not allow your canine companion to indulge in that behavior, or you may see the following problems interrupting your and your dog’s happiness.
Eating the wrong foods can lead to health problems for your dog. People who do not own any dogs, or know very little about dogs, might accidentally cause problems for you and your dog. Remember, not everyone knows that dogs cannot eat chocolate or most dairy products.
There are several other human foods and snacks that can easily lead to health problems in your dog. Even those who know a lot about owning dogs might incorrectly judge the health and condition of your dog. For example, some dogs have allergies or diabetes, making the issue of taking food from strangers very serious, if not deadly.
Your dog might accidentally hurt someone while accepting food from a stranger’s hand. Many dogs will display an aggressive behavior when it comes to food, even if they always have plenty to eat. Normally, dogs will not bite their owners and their family, but may hurt strangers while aggressively removing the food from their hands, due to lack of trust.
The stranger offering the food might touch the dog in a way that makes him angry, or innocently tease the dog with the food in a way that causes the canine to lash out. At best, you might become embarrassed and angry or worse, become involved in a court case where someone is suing you for your dog’s behavior.
Protect your dog by making sure no one is able to poison or steal him, luring him with food or treats. It is one of the most horrible occurrences you can think of as a dog owner, but it happens all of the time. An unscrupulous person may try to steal your pet or worse, poison him. Food and treats are often used to lure dogs into dangerous situations, deliberately giving dogs something toxic to ingest.
You cannot judge which food is poisoned and which ones are safe, and neither can your dog. Teaching your dog not to accept food from strangers will protect you both from heartache and unwanted veterinary bills. For the best protection, you and your dog should refuse any edible offerings from strangers.
Sadly, there are also people who want to steal your beloved pet, for personal enjoyment or financial gain. Strangers up to no good will commonly use food to bribe, lure or coax your dog away from sight so they can easily dognap your canine. No matter the situation, a well-trained dog is also well-protected from such risks and occurrences.
The Training Process
You must first decide how you expect your dog to behave when food or treats are offered from a stranger. For example, if you want to your dog to accept food from only you, you must make sure never to go out of the town or take a trip beyond one day without taking him with you.
Perhaps you want to train your dog to only eat from a certain food dish or bowl. If so, you should make sure to have extras which are identical, in case of accidents. You will also need to be sure never to forget the dog dish when you take him to town or on a trip.
There are other ways to help train your dog not to take food from strangers, such as teaching your dog a special command for accepting treats only upon your approval. In addition, you can tell this command to your family members and closest friends, allowing them the pleasure of rewarding your dog with a treat, on occasion.
- Choose a word that you will use that will let your dog know that it is okay to accept food or treats. Choose only one word that is simple and short, preferably one syllable, and quite different from all other commands used.
- Say the word whenever you are allowing your dog to eat, making sure that he hears the verbal command before tasting and consuming the food. Tell your friends and family to follow this rule as well.
- Repeat this action every time your dog eats, day after day, until he can associate the command to the food or treat. Your canine will know that magic word means that he will be given something tasty to eat. Make sure he knows very well that, without the command, he cannot have the food.
- Test your dog’s obedience when you take him outdoors, and ask your friends to try feeding him without command. If he accepts the food, you will know that much more practices or training is needed. Try again in a few days, changing the location and the people who offer him food to see if he can pass the test. Repeat until your dog knows the command and does not eat without it.
This is only one of the many training methods you can use to train your dog not to accept food or treats from strangers. There are also many other ways to help your dog say no to the food offered by strangers. If you feel that your dog is not learning with one method, switch and try another way.
You can train your dog not to accept food from strangers if you are persistent. If you get discouraged, there are professionals who will gladly help you train your dog. There are many service and working dogs who have been taught not to take food during working period, making it obvious that your dog can also learn this skill. In order to protect your dog from potential dangers, just keep trying until you and your dog can get it right – every time.