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bodyhead's avatar

How do I train my dog to not accept food from anyone but me using only positive reinforcement?

Asked by bodyhead (5515points) August 9th, 2008

I have a real good blue heeler that is really bonded with me. I can sit on the porch and drink a beer and she just lays at my feet. I almost never leash her except for our official walks. We train most days with a clicker and she knows sit, stay, shake, wait, lets go, time for a walk, lets go on a car ride, come, get in the kennel, get on your pillow and BANG! (play dead).

I’ve only had her for about six months and have only been working on training her for only three. She’s about two years old.

Any suggestions on how to train her to not accept food from strangers without spraying her with a water gun or smacking her on the muzzle? (two suggestions I read elsewhere).

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5 Answers

scamp's avatar

What about asking someone to offer her food, and you sharply say NO? Then give her some food and some praise when she does as you ask. Or you could try putting something bitter on the food your friend offers her. I think they have bitter sprays on the training sites that discourage dogs chewing on things. Try these things over and over again, and she should get the idea. You could ask a few friends to help out so she gets the idea only to take food from you, and doesn’t think the food is only bad from one person.

marinelife's avatar

What happens if something happens to you? Do you want her to starve to death?

Instead of training her not to accept food from people, tell people not to offer her food. As they approach, say it’s OK to pet her (if it is), but please don’t give her treats or other food.

Why is this so important to you? Sometimes it seems like a power trip to me. Dogs are opportunistic feeders. What you want to do is very much against nature. Unless she has health problems or serious allergies, one of something is unlikely to hurt her.

bodyhead's avatar

Marina, I think that it’s inconsiderate to try and talk down to me just because I’m asking a question. I’m just going to go out on a limb here and guess that you’ve never trained a dog before to do anything.

She’s not going to starve to death. That’s a crazy statement. Any dog will eat something when no one is around. Even if I told her not to eat her food and spanked her when she tried, as soon as I leave she would eat it. I wouldn’t actually be training her to not eat her food. I would just be training her to not eat her food while I’m around. That’s how dog psychology works (or so I’ve read).

It’s not a power trip either. That’s a completely inane and unfounded statement. When I bring her to work with me, she will get fed pretzels, dog treats, and any random food that’s in the fridge. People will do it either while I’m distracted talking to someone or while I’m right there but she will have eaten the food before I can take it from her.. When we get home she will either throw up or have terrible runny poo while she squats trying to get it out for ten minutes at a time.

I only am only on a power trip if somehow you have a twisted definition of power trip that means that I don’t want my dog to get sick from overfeeding (I already feed her as the vet directs and she gets treats while we train for about 15 minutes a day + one small bone every night at dinner time). On top of that, I don’t really know what type of allergies the dog has because I don’t feed her bananas, cookies, chips, etc. at home. I know that chocolate will kill dogs but that doesn’t mean that everyone on earth is smart enough to not feed my dog deadly chocolate.

You know what else is against nature? Having a dog run an obstacle course is against nature but I’ve seen dogs do it. Dog shows are against nature but they still have them. Having a dog catch a man-made Frisbee is against nature. Just about every human interaction with a dog could be considered against nature. Dogs are wild creatures that man has taken in and domesticated. Domestication is (by definition) against nature. People who have dogs that need operations are all against nature. Let those dogs die! We wouldn’t want to go against nature.

This dog has a really good life. You might keep your dogs at home in a cage but this dog goes everywhere with me. She seems to like being with me. There are different schools of thought on dog training and I am by no means an expert because I’ve only read five books on different types of training. I know that when I say ‘sit’ the dog will sit but if I say that do a person I might just get told to ‘go sit and spin’. The point I’m trying to make here is that it’s far easier to change the dogs behavior then to train every human on earth not to feed my dog.

Also, thanks for the suggestion scamp. I’ve been researching some on this though and I think I’m going to use a modified version of the trick ‘take it’ and ‘leave it’ to train her to not take treats from people unless I say it’s ok (i.e. the first time someone offers her something – stopping somewhere before she gets sick).

bodyhead's avatar

Marina, I apologize about the first thing I said. After looking through your responses for others on dog training, it does look like you have thoughtful responses for everyone except me. I’m guessing you have trained a dog before but our social interactions with our dogs and other people are extremely different. You have the ability to control those around you and I only have the ability to control myself.

Cop dogs are trained to not take food while on duty. Some of the people offering food might want to do the dog harm. I just want to do something similar with my dog so someone doesn’t make her sick or kill her.

It’s not just because I want her to like me better or that I’m mad that I’m not feeding her enough. She eats plenty. Believe me. She just doesn’t know when to stop and I feel like it’s my duty as a good owner to ration her food so she’s not one and half feet tall and 80 pounds.

marinelife's avatar

@bodyhead Sorry if we have gotten off on the wrong paw. I certainly understand you not wanting people to randomly feed things to you dog. I feed my dogs raw food. I prefer that they not get grain-based treats. I guess the people I have been around usually ask me if it is all right before offering the dog a treat. If they don’t, they certainly should. Would someone just go offer food to someone’s child?

I have read (looked quickly, but could not find online) stories of dogs almost starving to death after being trained to eat only on command and losing their owner.

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