Puppy Australian Shepherd X Collie with a toy

Have you taught your dog that its OK if you need to take food away from them? If not – here’s why you might want to!

I seem to be seeing a lot of posts which say ‘never take your dog’s food away ‘ ‘don’t grab things off your dog’ – but how is that equipping your dog for the ‘real world’? Where they might have found something edible (well, what the dog deems edible anyway!), but life threatening? Got hold of something that could kill them? Or is their life going to be so well managed for the next X number of years that will NEVER happen?

Can you guarantee someone, at some point in your dog’s life, is NOT going to move swiftly to try to take articles away from your dog? If a dog manages to get hold of some pills, goes to get hold of some food dropped on the kitchen floor or finds a rotting carcase on a walk – have you taught your dog to accept someone trying to take them off them? In case you aren’t the first person on the scene?

‘Real world’ training suggests to me we should aim to teach our dogs to be as fine as we can with the vagaries and unpredictability of human behaviour, because IME teaching ALL the humans they are ever going to meet in theit whole lives how to behave around dogs as safely and carefully as they should just isn’t going to happen.

We can teach our dogs to give up articles and food items easily enough (and yes, I’d be teaching that as well); but will everyone else know what cues you’ve taught the dog for them to do that? In an emergency, will they ask the dog calmly? Or might they panic a bit and move fast? If you have children, can they sometimes act like, well, children, and go to grab things from the dog? Visiting children – do they know not to pick up the dog’s food bowl or chew?

Collar grabs, taking food from their mouth, article grabs  – high on my list of things to teach a dog to associate with a positive outcome, in well planned strategic stages, as soon as possible so they are less likely to be taken by surprise, it be less likely to trigger aggressive, fearful or defensive behaviour, should it be needed to save their lives. Nothing to do with being a ‘pack leader’ or showing the dog who is boss – just sensible training, for the ‘real world’.

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