Yikes, what to do? I had just finished decorating a Christmas cake to take to a family party and I turn around only to find a certain dog trainer's dog (who shall remain nameless) eating it up, right off the counter. My own dog and I stood there horrified as I realized that even a well-trained dog will steal food if given the opportunity, especially if the dog does not know this is not an acceptable behavior and has never been corrected for it. The key to stopping your dog from stealing food from the countertop or table is prevention. All dogs would rather eat human food. Therefore, if food is left lying around, the temptation is too great for them not to sample. Do not leave food out where the dog can reach it. Also, do not give in to your dog's pleading eyes and reward him/her with a tidbit of food or the dog will become a constant beggar and will encourage food stealing.
Why Dogs Steal Food
Hunger - When a dog is hungry, he will eat what food is available. Make sure your dog receives regularly scheduled, nutritionally balanced meals.
Cooking - The scent of food cooking teases the dog and sets his instincts in gear. Keep the dog securely out of the area while you are cooking.
Table Feeding - When a dog is fed from the table or offered leftovers from the owner's plate, the dog has just been encouraged to do it again and again, whenever he/she can.
Availability - If you leave food out and within reach, assume your dog will take it. It will only take your dog seconds to swoop in and grab that snack.
Problem Solving Techniques
Establish a regular feeding schedule and location for your dog's meals and do not allow the dog to eat anywhere else.
Keep the dog in a crate while you are preparing, cooking and eating food. When mealtime is over and all food is put away, let the dog out of his/her crate and reward with playtime or a special toy.
To keep the dog away from your plate and focused on his/her own bowl, make sure you give the dog a proper diet. Consult a veterinarian to determine your dog's proper diet based on the dog's height, weight, activity, and health.