Strangers keep giving my dog treats!

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Strangers keep giving my dog treats!

This is a discussion on Strangers keep giving my dog treats! within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; This is a little mini-rant. I'll start off by saying my 1 year old dog Bunsen is extremely friendly. We super-socialized him to bits when ...

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Old 05-14-2016, 03:32 AM
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Strangers keep giving my dog treats!

This is a little mini-rant.

I'll start off by saying my 1 year old dog Bunsen is extremely friendly. We super-socialized him to bits when he was a puppy (maybe overdid it?), and so he thinks everyone is his friend. Whether I am walking him down the street or if I take him into a store, all a person needs to do give him a look and talk in an excited voice, and then my boy becomes a tail-wagging goofball.

The problem is once a stranger sees my dog look at them with the big puppy eyes, wiggly butt, and frisky wagging tail, they take it as an invitation to give him a treat...often without even asking! Sometimes, I catch them before it happens, and I politely smile and say something like "Oh, no thank you, he's already got a lot of treats today already..." or "Oh, no thanks, he has a sensitive stomach". I know they have good intentions, so I say it nicely so I don't come across as rude.

The strangers who don't ask and give Bunsen a treat before I can say anything annoy me. Yes, I let them pet my dog...but that is not an invitation to feed him. And even if they ask and I say No... the person sometimes still gives him a treat! It's like they didn't hear me...? or don't care..? It happened today with the mailman - we were working in the front yard, and then the mailman comes up and starts petting my dog, he asks if I he can give my dog a treat, I say No and give some excuse, and then some seconds later, I see my dog taking food from his hand. Grrr...

The reason for this little rant is not because I am a control freak. I know these people like dogs and my goofball pup is hard to resist, lol. I'd prefer people not give treats to my dog for three main reasons:

1. In addition to ongoing training, I take Bunsen to regular agility and rally classes, so he is already eating his limit of treats. I need to save room for his dog food too!

2. I have no idea what the strangers are giving him. I want Bunsen to have a healthy diet. The treats I give Bunsen are relatively healthy, and I stay away from treats with chemicals such as BHA in them (for eg., Milkbone)....

3. I don't want treats from strangers to start or enforce bad habits.


The way I look at it is...I don't give out candy to your human children, and especially not without parent permission! ...so why would you think it is okay for my dog?
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Old 05-14-2016, 09:32 AM
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Train your dog to only eat and take treats with an associated verbal cue. Begin the process at home with just the two of you and then start proofing with the help of a friend who you can instruct when it is okay to release the treat.

The verbal cue should not be something like the word "treat" or "okay" because many a stranger will use these words not knowing it is the cue.

Two ways to train the behavior, only you release the dog or anyone can knowing the proper command. The second might be better because your training will not be compromised unless you always plan to to feed your dog and never be away from the dog.

Keep in mind, when you are away from your dog and someone else will be feeding your dog, they will need to know the verbal cue if you get your dog trained well enough in the discipline.
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Old 05-14-2016, 02:15 PM
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Oh, I hate when people do that! My boy is a bit sensitive to chicken, and he has the tendency to put on weight very quickly, so people randomly giving him treats is not a good thing. I completely sympathize with you.

Luckily not many people can just come up and randomly give my boy treats since he's fearful of people, the ones who have managed to make friends with Zody are the worst offenders, and I have managed to train nearly all of them to only give him the treats that I hand to them LOL. I still have one or two that ignore me and use their own but they are now few and far between.
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Old 05-14-2016, 03:06 PM
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There must be some dogs with allergies to food, perhaps quite severe ones? Similar to how some humans are allergic to peanuts, shellfish, etc.

If I was dealing with someone who insisted on giving my dog food that I felt very firmly on my dog not eating, I would give a slightly to very firm no, depending on how persistent they were, followed by he has severe allergies to some foods and can't risk eating unknown food.

This could very well be the case with some dogs. Those people should really understand not to do it. It may help them think twice next time before feeding a dog.

Another solution would be to offer the person one of your own treats to feed your dog. Then they get the satisfaction of feeding the dog, but you know what they're eating.

I think mailmen must see a lot of different dogs, so they like the dogs to be friendly to them when delivering mail! :P
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Old 05-14-2016, 07:04 PM
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The first step with a puppy is the impulse control exercises, food on the ground or in your hand, dog goes for it, food get covered or hand gets closed, dog sits nicely hand opens.

Dog then gets told he can take the food (whatever word you use) If he ever tries to get food without cue, then food gets covered again.

We actually trained our puppy like this so that she wouldn't steal food from my kids and their friends or pounce on dropped food indoors or discarded chicken bones outside.

One day when Jasmine and I were sitting watching the kids in the playground a kid started trying to feed her chocolate raisins which she refused to eat. I was so happy!!! We had been using my kids friend's to reinforce this exercise, so she had learned she only gets the food after the cue word, even if the kids are waving the food in her face.

It is SUCH an important thing to teach your dog, there is dangerous "food"everywhere and you need 100% control over what your dog eats whatever the source.
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Old 05-15-2016, 12:47 AM
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Thanks for all your replies! Hmm...that is not a bad idea to teach him to only accept treats with a command word. I'm a bit shaky on how to teach this, but will do some further research on it.

I know it's going to take some time though...Bunsen is one year old, and I just managed to teach him to leave the goose poop at the park alone and not eat it.
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Old 05-15-2016, 07:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Turtle11 View Post
Thanks for all your replies! Hmm...that is not a bad idea to teach him to only accept treats with a command word. I'm a bit shaky on how to teach this, but will do some further research on it.

I know it's going to take some time though...Bunsen is one year old, and I just managed to teach him to leave the goose poop at the park alone and not eat it.
Goose poop is like candy to many a dog, beats the heck out me as to why???. So, if you conquered that task, I'll bet you can teach Bunsen a command and associated behavior with a different verbal cue to wait for your release to eat any food. Chances are it will be easier than you might think. Leave it training IMO is more difficult than making a dog wait for a release command to eat permissible items. Think of it this way, leave it training, the dog never gets what it wants ( as far as the restricted item) but certainly may get an appropriate food reward for obeying whereas a simple wait before it eats an acceptable item or a replacement item which you reward with rather than a stranger is easier for the dog to understand.

My process was fairly simple. Whether the dog is on a wait for its food, going out a door or other wait situations, I instilled in the dog that it must make eye contact with me ( and stay locked on to my eyes) before the release is given. This eventually becomes default behavior and the dog will always give you eye contact automatically awaiting your release. No release for the stranger's food and your problem should be solved.

Yes, it takes some time but once the process starts it might surprise you how it progresses from there. Number one mistake many make is not being consistent in the requirement for the eye contact. Do it every time for whatever situation you train for and in the beginning the eye contact may only be for a few seconds but when your dog gives you those eyes, use your positive verbal marker and release the dog and/or reward. I always chose the easiest times to start such as the dog wants its meal or the dog wants to go outside and play. Both of these situations require no additional reward because the release is the reward.
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Old 05-17-2016, 09:58 PM
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@DriveDog

I forgot to say thank you for your detailed response. I will try it out.

And just an fyi - I heard goose poop is sweet-tasting. Geese eat seeds, grains, etc...and as a result, their poop comes out with a slight sweet taste, which is why dogs can go crazy for it. Aah...sorry, maybe you didn't want to know that, LOL.
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Old 05-18-2016, 04:21 AM
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I also think that it's never wrong to condition any dog on a muzzle in situation where you know he could consume stuff he shouldn't and you can't 100% supervise his actions.
the muzzle also has the perk that people keep their paws of the dog, when you don't want them to have contact with your dog. :3
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Old 05-18-2016, 04:36 AM
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It's really frustrating when people do this! And it's really hard to teach a friendly dog not to accept food from strangers. But it's necessary. Most people out there are good natured and just want to do something nice for you and your dog, but other people aren't as good willed. I tell people not to feed my dog because I also don't want my dog eating food she finds on the street. There have been cases around where I live of people sticking nails into pieces of hot dog so that when dogs find and eat them, they end up ingesting the nail and often dying.

Better for your dog to only eat the food you provide..
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