Feeding time is already frustrating enough without dealing with a food-stealing dog. Luckily, several proven methods improve your dog’s behavior around mealtime. We’ll try to cover a variety of approaches, and hopefully, one of them will be perfect for you and your pups.
The 3 Methods to Keep Your Dog from Eating Other Dogs’ Food
1. Microchip Feeders
Several microchip feeders on the market are excellent for anyone who already has their pets microchipped for safety. Microchip feeders can be expensive, usually in and around the $150 mark. However, for the lazy dog parent with some extra cash, who just wants this dog to stop eating his brother’s food? An excellent buy.
One notable downside you’ll need to consider is feeder placement. Microchip feeders work because there’s a bar over one end that can read microchips and will only open the container when the microchip it is paired with passes underneath it.
However, the other side of the feeder is entirely open, and the feeder won’t close if a dog is eating from it for safety reasons. So if you don’t place the feeder in a corner, a dog can come up from the side or back of the bowl and stick their head over it.
Many pet parents with microchip feeders recommend cutting a hole in a box that your food-stealing victim can get through but that doesn’t have enough room for two dogs. Then put the bowl in the box, so it’s covered on all sides.
2. Asserting Dominance Over Your Dog
When dogs interact, they take on roles of dominance and submission. Dominant dogs get the first pick of everything: food, sunny spots, etc. If another dog uses something your dominant dog wants, they will assert dominance by pushing the other dog away from it.
Dogs that have taken the submissive position will usually yield to dogs in a dominant position, even if doing so would be to their detriment, such as when quarreling over food. But you can change this behavior by asserting dominance over your dog.
When your food thief starts to try and crowd your victim’s food bowl, stand between the thief and the bowl and firmly say “no.” This will show the thief that while your victim isn’t necessarily claiming their food, you are declaring their food.
When the thief backs off, praise them and take them into another room to play. Doing this gives your victim a chance to eat in peace while your thief gets some playtime to reward them for not being a stinky thief.
3. Teach Your Dog to “Leave It.”
Another way to reinforce training is to teach your dog the “leave it” command. Start with a treat and put it in the palm of your hand with your fist closed. When your dog starts to sniff and investigate your hand, firmly say “Leave it” until your dog backs off. When they back off, say “yes” and give them the treat. Remember to give your dog a treat without making them “leave it,” too; you want them to learn to ignore things that you tell them to ignore.
Once your dog can reliably leave the treat in your hand alone, it’s time to teach them how to leave things that aren’t in your hands. Put some low-value treats, like kibble, on the ground in front of you. When your dog goes for it, tell them to “leave it.” When they do, give them a high-value treat like a piece of meat or cheese.
Start moving the training location around so your dog learns that the “leave it” command applies everywhere. Then when your dominant dog goes for your submissive dog’s food, tell them to “leave it.” If the dog leaves it, reward them with some treats and playtime.
Training your dog can be difficult, especially with something as desirable as food. Luckily, whether you buy a shiny new toy to play with or train your dog the old-fashioned way, there are plenty of ways you can get your dog to leave other dogs’ food while they eat it.
Featured Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock