Your Pet Question:
How can I stop my shih tzu-bichon from getting up at the table to see what there is to eat or drink? He has been drinking my coffee whenever he gets a chance, and recently has begun snacking on anything left unattended anywhere! I can’t answer the phone or door without taking my food and drink with me!
Susan, British Columbia
The Expert Says:
Sounds like your dog is sneaky and waits until you aren’t paying attention to help himself to human snacks, so you can be sneaky too and set him up for a surprise. Try putting a few drops of vinegar in your leftover coffee for starters and then set the stage. Leave a human snack on the table and lace it with a bit of hot sauce, and tie it to some empty cans filled with a few pennies all strung together and balanced on the edge of the table. When the little thief takes the bait he will get a horrible taste in his mouth and the scare of the cans clattering to the ground should be enough to teach him a lesson. If that doesn’t work, you might want to experiment with different methods of more intense behaviour training like a citronella collar with a remote to stop him in his tracks next time. But don’t forget to reward him with his own dog treats when you see he gets the message and stays away from human food no matter how tempting.
Deena Cooper is a certified animal behavior therapist and owner of four Deena Speaks Dog outlets throughout Toronto, Ontario.