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My Thief-Dog

February 20th, 2005, 11:28 AM
Phoebe has been stealing food when we're not looking. She'll take food off of counters and the table. We don't feed her anything from the table (well, the baby will toss food from his highchair, and she'll hoover up whatever he launches, but that's about it). I always make a habit of putting any treats, leftovers, etc... in her bowl and making her wait for a minute or two before letting her eat them.

I tried putting a piece of cardboard on the counter with cans filled with rocks, but this didn't work. Instead of knocking the cans off the counter and scaring herself out of the habit, she figured out how to gently push the cardboard out of the way to get at whatever bait I had set for her. :rolleyes:

I've tried hiding behind a wall and squirting her with a squirt gun, but she hears/smells me there and won't touch the bait while I'm within earshot.

So I bought some tobasco sauce. Earlier this morning, I laced a slice of bread with peanut butter, left it on the edge of the counter, and then took the kids into the basement and left her upstairs. I didn't hear anything for a couple of hours, so I went back upstairs to check. No sign of the peanut butter & tobasco sandwich, and no signs of any discomfort in the dog (although my lips & throat are still burning, and I didn't touch the stuff, only smelled it!). Does peanut butter neutralize tobasco sauce? :confused:

What other methods have you all used to teach a dog to stay off the counters, tables, etc...? My husband was about ready to throttle her yesterday when she stole his lunch off the kitchen table (his absolute favorite sandwich, too! :eek: ), so I need to do something about this PDQ!

Any other ideas?

February 20th, 2005, 12:16 PM
Don't leave things where Phoebe can get them. :)
Dogs have several thousand years noble heritage as scavengers, this is a tough one to break especially in an adult dog who's had luck doing this for some time. Every time she succeeds, she's been rewarded. It would most likely be a very long battle at this point, and it's a much easier problem to just manage.
I've had dogs who are counter surfers, I just didn't leave stuff on counters, or leave trash accessible.
If you leave something and have to walk away from it for a little bit, that's trainable. You just have to work on "leave it" and reward for doing so, and make Phoebe aware of what specific thing she's supposed to leave in your absence.
Like, your husband pointing the sandwich out, telling her LEAVE IT before walking away, not expecting her to "know she's not suposed to" go for it.

February 20th, 2005, 12:25 PM
LOL! Ok, easier said than done (a husband and a couple of kids in the house - there's always some kind of food somewhere!). She's good with "leave it" as long as we're there. With hubby's sandwich yesterday, I had told her to leave it three times as she circled the table and sniffed in it's general direction each time. We left the room for about five minutes, only to come back to find her under the table polishing off the last bit of it (admittedly, it was a very good sandwich. Don't worry - I gave hubby heck for leaving it there in the first place. "Oh sure, take the dog's side!" :rolleyes: ). And as you said, each time she succeeds, she's rewarded. That's why I wanted to "booby trap" the sandwich - so that she'd succeed, and the reward wouldn't be a good one! :eek: Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to mind tobasco sauce, so I'm hoping someone has another - less tasty - suggestion. :D

February 20th, 2005, 12:27 PM
I agree with Carina, 2 of my 5 cats, "counter surf" the minute we are out of sight. I have to thaw meat either in the microwave , or place it in the oven, counters are out of the question.
We just never leave food out for them to get at. We also have a bread box for bread and buns so they can't get at those either.
Our garbage goes into a can outside every evening, or they would be in that to.
It's a fact of life when you own pets, you have to pet proof your house, and keeping food out of reach at all times, is just part of it.

February 20th, 2005, 12:36 PM
Never leave food unattended!!
If I have to leave the room before I finish eating, I tell me hubby or son to watch my food and not let the cats touch it!
I also have to constantly remind my son not to leave his food lying around, either eat it or put it up.
Like I said before, it's a fact of life when you own pets, 3 of my cats I was able to train not to go on the counter or tables, but 2 of them I tried everything, ,and no luck. :evil: We just are very dillagent about putting food away.

February 20th, 2005, 12:42 PM
It's a fact of life when you own pets, you have to pet proof your house, and keeping food out of reach at all times, is just part of it.
Hmmm... Can't say I agree with that one. Our previous dog was completely reliable with food in the house. We could leave her there with a bucket of melting ice cream on the counter, and she would only clean up what landed on the floor (if it's on the floor, it's fair game - that's a rule from Clifford the Big Red Dog ;) ). I think this can be trained out of her. I just need to find the right deterrent. This, IMO, is just good doggy manners. If I take her visiting to my parents' house (where there is ALWAYS some sort of food floating around), I don't want to have to constantly worry about whether or not she's getting into something.

By the way, garbage is not an issue - we don't leave that lying around the house. But she will "clean" any dishes that are left in the sink. :p

February 20th, 2005, 12:54 PM
You may be right writing 4fun, I believe a dog can be trained, I was using my cats as an example, and unfortunately I was only able to train 3 out of 5 not to counter surf. My one bad cat will actually lick the fry pan after we cook in it :yuck: , but thats how he gets caught, we hear his rough tongue hitting the teflon!!! :eek: .
I don't know how your house is set up, but maybe banning him from the kitchen until he learns his manners is an option.

February 20th, 2005, 01:10 PM
Depends on the dog, and depends how hard you want to work at it. :)
Both my current dogs will leave food alone unless I leave it on the floor (obviously it's fair game there!)
A previous dog - adult rescue - was an inveterate counter surfer and trash can raider. However, if you told him to leave alone a specific thing, he would. For HOURS. I could and did leave him in the car with a sandwich or groceries, tell him not to mess with it, and he wouldn't, even if it was 2" from his nose (which it usually would be on my later return!)
But if I didn't give him specific instructions, rather just left something sitting where he could get to it, he would eat it.
That was my distinction above.
So if you want to train her....keep working on LEAVE IT. Don't give her a chance to reward herself for now, not even once. Be persistent and more patient about setting her up for squirt gun.
Bitter Apple is mean. A trainer friend tasted it once, and said she had an icky numb spot on her tongue & lip for almost a whole day. She won't use it any more.
Lemon juice, vinegar, a sprinkling of ammonia (on the booby trapped item NOT to squirt.) All aversives, but since she is smart she'll be able to smell it and know the difference...

February 20th, 2005, 03:27 PM
Lemon juice, vinegar, a sprinkling of ammonia (on the booby trapped item NOT to squirt.) All aversives, but since she is smart she'll be able to smell it and know the difference...
Oh yes! She is smart. Hopefully, though, I can prove I'm smarter (although there are days...).

My sister's dog was the King of Thieves. He actually took a hotdog out of my husband's hand while we were at a back-yard BBQ last year (snuck up on him while he was chatting and snatched it right from his fingers! :eek: ). And being a big dog, he could reach into the furthest corners of the counters, too. Then, one fateful day, he ate a pound of butter right out of the butter dish. :yuck: Spent the rest of the day in the yard, bringing it all right back up. :sick: Never stole a thing off the counters again! :D

I think he must have warned Phoebe, though, because hubby has left the cover off the butter dish numerous times (a pet peeve of mine), and she's never gone for it. :rolleyes:

I'm thinking double-sided tape on the edges of the counter (with all the fur on her paws, this won't be pleasant, I'm sure) and a booby-trapped piece of food at the back of the counter. But I need to find something that doesn't neutralize the kick of the tobasco (or lemon or whatever I use). Apparently bread is not a good idea. This is what people use to calm their tongues after eating really spicy food. :confused:

February 20th, 2005, 03:32 PM
I just remembered a friend of mine telling me, she put black pepper all over her counters to stop her dog from stealing! Maybe it would work for you to!

February 20th, 2005, 03:38 PM
maybe put the tobasco sauce on a pice of cooked chicken. I know this really gets me lol. I don't know alot about what to give dogs other than dog food though so you might want to find out if it's healthy first. my dog will never bother food (but she's been that way since i brought her home, i never had to train her) but my moms dog will eat something if left out. once he ate butter off the coffee table, of course it's our fault for not watching. let me know if the tobasco sauce thing works i'm looking for something to try with BJ.

February 20th, 2005, 03:51 PM
My (in a previous life) thief dog was Dutchie the Rottweiler. One day I took about 4lbs of raw beef liver out of the garage freezer, and forgot...left it on top. Yikes! He ate almost the entire thing. :yuck: :eek:
I was worried about A & D told me what to watch out for. He was rather unwell for days, poor dog. Had the runs and kept horking up wads of stinky beef liver. :sick:
It didn't stop him from trying to counter-surf, all it did was make him hate raw liver forever more. (I feed my dogs raw, so this is a regular part of their diet, only in much smaller amounts!)

February 20th, 2005, 07:07 PM
well i"m glad i'm not the only one with a bad mannered doggie. Our other dog was not a counter surfer, but Gemma sure is! I personally think as a rescue dog she has 'food issues' (she was found in a dump - so I guess she thinks all food is fair game) She has no scruples at all however, even if we're standing right there- she'll snoop! :(
A work in progress I say.

March 3rd, 2005, 09:53 PM
[QUOTE=Bitter Apple is mean. A trainer friend tasted it once, and said she had an icky numb spot on her tongue & lip for almost a whole day. She won't use it any more.
Lemon juice, vinegar, a sprinkling of ammonia (on the booby trapped item NOT to squirt.) [/QUOTE]

I'd much prefer Bitter Apple then poisoning with Ammonia!! You're kidding right?? Read this link

You need to train your dog for 'food refusal'. You might manage to divert her from counter surfing and scavenging in the house, but, what about outside? Will she eat some steak that's soaked in antifreeze that some nutball tosses in the yard?? Here is a link to read up on food refusal... give it a read and see what you think.
*Please remember that is a 'working dog' site, some of the methods might not be what a rescue or family pet might need. Or things that you are comfortable doing with your dog.

March 5th, 2005, 07:21 AM
I have some stuff called No Chew (made by the 8 in 1 company). I guess it's similar to the bitter Apple, but I got it on my lips by accident and it wasn't that bad. I mean it tasted bad, bitter, but my lips were not numb or anything. I could just taste it every time I licked my lips until I washed them off. Maybe you could try that? I haven't used it on food, since our puppy is too little to try to reach stuff like that, and she doesn't know anything is food besides her puppy food. The baby throws stuff on the floor all the time and she hasn't touched any of it - YET. LOL!

Anyway I sprayed to No Chew on stuff that I don't want chewed, like my sofa, area rugs, chair legs, and vertical blinds. I saw her start to play with the blinds the other day but only for a couple of seconds. She must've gotten a taste. Same with the rug by the back door. HTH!