By Ursula Birr
The safest solution is a well-fitting muzzle that allows the dog to pant and drink, but prevents it from ingesting food. For dogs that have lived on the street for a long time and those who are already veterans when it comes to recycling leftovers, it is sometimes the only way to move around safely outside.
If you always keep an eye on your dog while running free, you know the signals that announce a treat: stop, sniff, nose down. Then no more ranting. But distraction might lure him to your side. Call out in a promising voice, put your hand exaggeratedly clearly into the treat bag. And reward him every time he spurns the find and lets you give him the best pieces instead.
It’s not the ideal solution, but it prevents bad stomachs and worse. Where there has just been fresh manure, where horses have left their apples or cows have left their flat cakes, where open garbage cans hold leftover food and people relieve themselves in the bushes, take your dog on a leash and quickly walk past the temptations. Better still: you avoid these paths entirely. Especially if your dog has already found a taste for the forbidden fruits
Do you know the fable of the fox who cannot get hold of the grapes because they hang too high and who then disdains them as “too sour”? Spoil up all the delicacies that lie on the floor for your dog. Put out small pieces of sausage or cheese bites in the apartment and call him over. If he wants to eat such a treat in a flash on the way, clap your hands, shout hard “No!” and immediately lure him back to you. With you there is then enough reward. Unfortunately, you have to practice this more often, until even the most convinced garbage disposal has learned to pass everything that smells deliciously without changing a face.
An absolute no-go are delicacies that you throw on the floor. In doing so, you encourage the dog to eat what it has found. For search games, put the crackers and pellets in a food bag and let them search for them. If the dog brings him to you, he can snack on it. Otherwise there is nothing.
For dogs that are not yet habitually consuming found objects, a strict feeding rhythm helps. Always serve the dog meals punctually at the same time in the same place – if possible from the same bowl. Dogs are creatures of habit. Once they get used to a rhythm, they may well not develop an appetite at other times. But only if the rest of the time is filled with exciting companies.
Also worth a try: the food permit. The food is in front of the dog. He has to sit down and wait until he hears the longed-for “take it”. Then he can go about the contents of the bowl undisturbed. Docile dogs will soon sit by themselves and wait for their key word. Others take longer. But once they have internalized it, sitting before eating is part of a sequence of actions that they complete automatically. This considerably reduces the temptation to have a snack outside.
This article was published in our magazine issue 2/2015.
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