Karen Wild: Dealing with dog temptation

Karen Wild column EMN-140715-124751001
Karen Wild column EMN-140715-124751001

Temptation is everywhere! We humans see things we would like all the time, usually in adverts teasing us that our lives will be more perfect than ever if we eat the right brand of yoghurt or drive the shiniest car. Our dogs are not immune to the human-advertising appeal either. Whoever thought of the idea that a puppy would advertise toilet roll?

When we arrive at the shops, or look on the internet, we are bombarded. Do we buy everything we see? No (be honest)! In the supermarket, do you grab everything and start eating before you even reach the checkout? Some children attempt this, but we teach them not to. Somewhere in our past, a long-suffering adult taught us not to stuff our faces with temptation. Most of the time, at least!

The same thing applies to our dogs. They aren't children but they are also not born with self control or 'social manners', then we won't be surprised that our dogs gobble food from plates when the opportunity arises. They may steal our dirty socks or run off with our shoes. Delightful, scented prizes!

If we chase them, we will just cause them to run away and hide with their lovely discoveries. Will they learn not to grab these things in future if you tell them off? No, it won't. What it will do is teach your clever canine that hiding things and making sure you are not around is important when they steal something. In fact, it will become their priority!

Instead, it is very easy to teach a puppy or older dog that finding interesting things that tempt them is just fine, as long as they come to you next. This could be with the item held happily in their mouth, or simply leaving it alone to return to you for something better. Teach your dog to 'fetch' their toys and other safe items for them to hold, first. Next time they earmark a shoe, ask them to 'fetch' this too! Easy.

If you would prefer a 'no touch' policy, place toys and other tempting items within reach but keep your dog on lead. As they wander over to the item, call them to you first and give them a treat for doing this. They will soon learn to spot things but ignore them in favour of earning food wages from you.

Always teach what you want, rather than what you don't. Lead your dogs not unto temptation, indeed!