Puppies, like small children, like to put everything in their mouths. Food or not, if your puppy sees something interesting lying around, he will probably investigate it with his mouth. While most things he picks up will be harmless, he may find an old bone, trash or even something poisonous that can mean expensive vet bills or worse. Put a stop to these worries by teaching him to only eat food out of his dish or when it is offered to him by hand.
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Tip #1 - Have a regular spot where you feed your puppy. Whether it is in the kitchen, laundry room or back deck, just make it a spot where he knows he can go to get his meals.
Tip #2 - Teach him the "leave it" command. To do this, set a treat on the ground. When he makes a move for it, tell him to leave it and cover it with your foot. When he backs off and looks at you, hand him another treat from your hand. Continue doing this, varying where you toss the treat, until he automatically looks at you when he sees the treat on the ground. Never give him the treat you have told him to leave.
Tip #3 - Challenge him. Set out some food items on the ground, then walk him by on a leash. When he goes toward the food, give the "leave it" command, reinforcing with a gentle tug of the leash if necessary.
Tip #4 - Take off the leash. Once he reliably leaves food on command, set some food out and let him find it on his own. If he expresses interest, be ready to give the "leave it" command and get him before he eats the food. Continue to practice until he ignores food that is not in his dish or offered by hand.
By Stephanie Dube Dwilson
About the Author
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.