When dogs reach up and take a piece of food, they don’t think of it as stealing or getting away with something. It’s just natural for them to take food that smells good to them. Of course it’s not something we want to encourage and there are a number of ways to deal with the problem.
First, we need to make sure our dog is getting the correct amount of food for his/her needs. Ask yourself how active your dog is and is his/her weight right for age and activity. If in doubt, discuss with your veterinarian.
There are several ways to discourage counter surfing and food stealing. The most obvious way is not to leave food within reach of your dog. Of course, this is not always possible when preparing a meal. Never feed your dog at the table as this encourages bad habits.
Another method that usually works is to teach your dog to “leave it.” You can do this by placing a tempting morsel or even a bowl of food in front of your dog and use the command to leave it. When your dog responds appropriately, s/he can be offered a treat.
When preparing food, keep the kitchen off limits. You can teach your dog to go to a special place saying “go to your place.” Make it an inviting area with a rug or bed and a toy.
There are other suggestions such as setting traps. Place marbles or stones in cans, string them together. When your dog approaches the food, the cans fall and the noise startles him/her. Or put something foul-tasting on the food making sure it’s non-toxic to dogs. While these approaches may work, we think they are harsh. We believe training your dog with simple commands is the best way to go. It may take a little longer for your dog to get the message, but it’s a lot kinder.