At one point or another, all dogs have “stolen food” from the table, a counter-top, your hand, the pantry, or almost anywhere else you may have placed some food. The first thing we need to understand is that the term “stealing food” is often misused to characterize what is actually taking place.
As I have mentioned many times in the past, we need to remember that our dog, who is often our favorite family member, is still a dog. Although we both share a very special bond of companionship, safety, socialization, and well-being; our dog still sees the world from a different perspective. Hint: He is a dog!
Dogs place a great deal of importance in the “here and now” and their concept of passive ownership (i.e. food) is based upon proximity. With these facts in mind, when you place a plate of food on a table and walk away, you still believe that the food is yours. From our human perspective, we had the food and simply placed it on the table. We still assume ownership even though we walked to the other side of the room or outside into the back yard.
Our dog lives in the “here and now”. He sees the food with nobody around it and determines that it is available for him. As you can see, an obvious “failure to communicate” between our dog and ourselves has just taken place.
The concept of the pantry is that we leave food in there and walk away. We now know we are sending the wrong message to our dog regarding the food. How can we resolve this? Robin and I have a great dog training article that provides a simple answer. Please take a look at our dog training article titled “How Do I Keep My Dog from Stealing Food from the Pantry”. We used the method described in our article with our German Shepherd and it worked like a charm!