Dog unable to control craving for food

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Dog unable to control craving for food

This is a discussion on Dog unable to control craving for food within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hi, My 62 year old mother bought an English Springer Spaniel as a 1 year old many years ago, the dog is now about 8 ...

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Old 12-15-2017, 07:15 AM
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Dog unable to control craving for food

Hi,

My 62 year old mother bought an English Springer Spaniel as a 1 year old many years ago, the dog is now about 8 years old. Extremely kind, meek, gentle dog. However, there are some problems with lack of training that I get really annoyed by when I visit for holidays, and thought I would ask if there is anything I could do to remedy this.

The dog has absolutely NO CONTROL over its instinct for craving food. This dog seriously looks like it is in a state of trance once it smells any kind of food on the kitchen table, kitchen counter or other. Loses track of everything else, and his nose starts to "pull" him towards the food (looks hilarious btw). This leads to him constantly trying to jump on the kitchen counter, kitchen table and others with his front paws to grab stuff when someone is not looking.

He even knows for example when my mother is making a sandwich to try and go to that spot where you cut bread immediately if my mom is looking away, etc. Obviously this has been going on for years already and my mom being elderly is not really energetic enough to have tried any systematic solutions to this, just telling the dog "no!" when she sees him (and then he goes down), but it does not help at all as he just repeats it next time.

But is there anything we could do at this point?

The dog also has severe separation anxiety due to its previous owners leaving him alone constantly due to their busy lifestyle (as said he was bought as a 1 year old), so he follows my mother around 24/7 as if she is his life buoy. Even when my mom goes to the restroom he immediately starts to whimper outside the door, etc.

This dog is also peculiar in the way that he is terrified of water, even though these dogs originally to my understanding were used for fetching birds from bodies of water after the bird were shot by hunters... which is kind of hilarious.
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Old 12-15-2017, 08:10 AM
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The constant desire for food and need to be with someone 24/7 sounds very spaniel-like It's funny, my Cocker isn't afraid of water - but he isn't a swimmer like most Cockers should be either! Haha.

I think the best first step in this situation would be management. Keep food off the tables and only in places where he cannot reach. Even better - get a baby gate and gate off the kitchen so he can't go in that room at all.

Then, because being away from the food is frustrating and being away from your mother might be distressing, I'd get some sort of puzzle toy, Kong, chew stick, etc. (a variety would be best) for him to mess with while she's cooking - especially for the first few weeks or so while he's getting used to being barred off from that room.

There are ways to teach him not to steal food from the counter, but management is probably easiest for your mother. They're not foolproof, either - spaniels are smart and will seize the first opportunity they've got to steal some goodies.
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Old 12-15-2017, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PoppyKenna View Post
The constant desire for food and need to be with someone 24/7 sounds very spaniel-like It's funny, my Cocker isn't afraid of water - but he isn't a swimmer like most Cockers should be either! Haha.

I think the best first step in this situation would be management. Keep food off the tables and only in places where he cannot reach. Even better - get a baby gate and gate off the kitchen so he can't go in that room at all.

Then, because being away from the food is frustrating and being away from your mother might be distressing, I'd get some sort of puzzle toy, Kong, chew stick, etc. (a variety would be best) for him to mess with while she's cooking - especially for the first few weeks or so while he's getting used to being barred off from that room.

There are ways to teach him not to steal food from the counter, but management is probably easiest for your mother. They're not foolproof, either - spaniels are smart and will seize the first opportunity they've got to steal some goodies.
Thank you for your reply.

Will see about making some arrangements on management, thanks for that!
We certainly keep food off the tables always, but the dog actually "checks" the food spots several times a day by rising up with his front paws even if there is no food there, which makes this tricky. So a gate might be the only option, although it would most certainly lead to the dog crying at the gate when not having access to being by my mom's side.

Another peculiar thing about this spaniel is, he is not interested in toys almost at all. If he gets a new toy he will try it out for about 5 minutes and never touch it again even if we try to make him excited by moving it around etc. which usually works with dogs in my experience.

However, he loves bones and my mom usually uses them to distract him if needed (he always takes the bone to another room for peace, if given one).

Cheers.
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Old 12-15-2017, 09:40 AM
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Wink he's far from alone - all dogs are opportunistic eaters.

.

seconding the above -
Ur mom isn't a trainer, or this would have been moderated long-since, & she won't be interested in changing his behavior, so Mgmt is by far the best, simplest option.

A baby-gate tall enuf that he cannot jump it, & screwed into the door-jamb, not the 'friction' type held up by rubber donuts & the power of prayer, would be good.
It needs to latch / open with one hand, to minimize the risk of Mom tripping, dropping something, etc.

His fear of water could well stem from some trauma in his 1st home, or in puphood - since he doesn't hunt, it's not a big deal, altho i'm sure it makes bathing him awkward. An extra-long bathtub non-slip mat could help, as would a hand-held sprayer, so he's not standing in a pool.
The X-long tub mat would also make the tub safer for Mom.

Policing the counters, teaching "OFF" to get forefeet on the floor [& rewarding it - remember, teach "UP" 1st, then "OFF", & just 'forget' to give the "UP" cue, except perhaps on the sofa or car-seat, never at kitchen table, counters, stove, etc] -
these will all help. How is the kitchen trash secured? - a can that stows behind a door the dog cannot open is good.

ALL dogs are opportunistic eaters; if food is available, they eat, even if they just literally finished a meal.
It's not logic - it's instinct.

- terry

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Old 12-15-2017, 10:24 AM
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A healthy active dog will always want food. Ours has perfected the 'poor starving dog' performance to an art form. Its all about training and discipline. As long as the performance nets her some food, it will continue. In our case, my wife will often/occasionally give in, despite knowing that it will only encourage future performances.
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Old 12-15-2017, 01:15 PM
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Talking ah, memories...

.

I was taking my then-puppy to work with me [with prior permission, B4 i even got the job - I asked at the end of the interview, & was assured that was fine] at the University Club / PSU campus; after work, i stopped over at a neighboring frat to ask the cook there, a fellow-member of the Frat Cooks Assoc, if we could borrow some equipment.

A pledge said he'd watch my pup, & i handed him the leash... less than 10-mins later, a blonde sorority-sister is dressing me down, outraged, claiming "YOUR PUPPY WAS STARVING - don't U ever feed him?!?!?!..." - she'd fed him three chili hot-dogs, one after another, in that brief time.
Over a pound of meat, plus the chili - made with 20% fat burger / no beans - for an under-20#, 6-MO dog.

Beau had diarrhea for 3 days - U have no idea how much i wanted to palm him off on that know-it-all ignoramus. I didn't have a whole lotta sympathy for Beau, either - the piglet had belly-grips & gassy guts from the spices, & when he flinched or moaned, i told him bluntly, 'Serves ya right, ya little hog.'

he was guilty of many dietary indiscretions in his life. Lovable & affectionate, yes, but a glutton.

- terry

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Old 12-15-2017, 09:51 PM
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I will say that, in all likelihood, the best that can be done is make the situation a little better. Given enough time and some real persistent and skilled attention, he could reform his hedonistic tendencies. But, it sounds like he isn't likely to get that. Even hiring a trainer might not be enough, depending on the trainer and depending on how much time & energy your mom was willing to contribute.

So, for sure, the most important thing is physical prevention. If he is around food, it doesn't much matter what else you do, his food drive is going to take over his brain. It doesn't sound like he's learned to shut off his food drive, and once that gets ingrained, it can be really hard to change.

In other words, the first thing you can do is just accept that's the way he is and understand that, as inconvenient as it is, he may just need to have access to food carefully controlled.

That's not actually complete resignation. That alone can help him improve on his own if he starts to associate the situation as somehow preferable to fixating on food. For example, if he really loves fetch, and he gets taken away from food to go play fetch, it shows him that it is possible to have more fun than mooching for food.

To really fix the core problem, though, really involves going way back to basics - things you normally teach a puppy in its first few weeks after weaning.

The first thing I teach a puppy is to make eye contact with me. Eye contact gets you a treat. If I move the treat to the side, and you follow it with your eyes - no treat. As soon as you look back at me, you get the treat.

We work up from that to learning "Leave it". I put a treat on the floor near the puppy and say, "Leave it". If he tries to grab it, I cover it with my hand. If he backs off, I uncover it and hand it to him. Gradually, we increase the time he must leave it before I give it to him.

Next, I leave a treat on the floor and say "Leave it." Then, I have the puppy do something else (sit, down, come, whatever) and he gets a treat for that. If he continues to leave the treat on the floor, he gets that too. After a while, I don't bother saying, "Leave it." We just learn that, if you don't earn the treat, you leave it alone.

This not only helps the dog suppress his food drive to focus on what he's being asked to do, but it also generally teaches impulse control. It helps the dog learn not to act on his first impulse, just for the instant gratification. Better things will follow if you focus on your job.

It is not too late to train this dog in this way, but at this point, it will be a long road. But, if you were able to devote the time and persistence, that's how I'd go about it.

Hope this helps.
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Old 12-15-2017, 10:09 PM
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I had a GSD, that would go thousand mile stare, pupils dilated, the moment food was out of fridge. We tred all sorts, his food drive, was very very strong. Act of god style training,when he decided, a piece of steak on the bbq was his, and jumped up to steal it, and got burnt paws. Never stole of a counter again.

But im not advocating this method, intentionally!

Here's a link to kikopup clicker training "leave it"

its worked on my 3
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