How to Stop a Dog From Eating Things When You're Not Home

It takes work to make your dog behave when you're not home.

It takes work to make your dog behave when you're not home.

The easiest way to stop your dog from eating things when alone is to crate him unless you're there. Many people, however, like to keep their dog loose in the house. If you are one of those people, you may need to work a little harder to stop food stealing.

Teach your dog the command "leave it." With your dog on a leash, drop a piece of dog food or a treat. When he goes forward to nose it, give the leash a quick tug and say "leave it." When he refocuses on you, praise him and give him a treat from your hand.

Repeat this process, dropping treats on the floor and leaving them sitting on low furniture, until he leaves anything easily, and on command.

Stop praising him every time he obeys the leave it command. Once he knows the command, he shouldn't need affirmation each time. Just say "leave it" and continue with what you were doing.

Switch the foods that you leave sitting around, put things on plates, leave utensils laying around and generally tempt your dog with various real-life scenarios. Be ready to use the "leave it" command, but you will find your pup is learning there is no reason to pay attention to food left laying around, because he doesn't get any of it.

Leave him home alone with food sitting out once he is reliable when you are home. Don't tempt him with steak or other favorites. A mostly empty cereal bowl or crusts from a sandwich will provide a mild, but resistible, temptation. If he eats the food while you're gone, you need to back up a step and resume training; however, some dogs may never be 100 percent reliable while you are away.

Items you will need

  • Food
  • Treats
  • Leash

Tips

  • While your dog is learning he cannot eat things when you aren't home, keep all food put away. The key to teaching your dog not to eat anything when you aren't there is to teach him that he is never allowed to get food unless you tell him it's OK. Once he learns this lesson, you don't have to be as careful about leaving food out.
  • For dogs who are sneaking food from the cabinet or fridge, adding a latch or baby-proof lock may be all you need to stop the theft.
 

References

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